Jesse H. Bunnell

In 1860 Jesse H. Bunnell was about 17 years old and was then a veteran telegraph operator. He was in Pittsburgh at the time when President Buchanan’s last message to congress was passed on the wires.

Jesse sent the message to L. O. Weir in Cincinnati in 2 hours without a break at an average speed of 38 words per minute.

This was sent with a straight key as bugs and sideswipers were not invented yet. I don’t believe typewriters were around in telegraph offices to copy on either, so Mr. Weir probably copied by hand. I think quite a feat by both men.

This account was taken from Jesse H. Bunnell’s obituary published in “The Brooklyn Daily Eagle” newspaper in 1899.

Jesse went on to be a civil war telegrapher and later founded the J. H. Bunnell Co. and patented the steel lever key that nearly every straight key made was fashioned after.