Ezra Gilliland

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Ezra Gilliland
Ezra Gilliand.jpg
Image of Ezra T Gilliland from Telegraph and Telephone Age (1903)
BornJune 17, 1845
DiedMay 13, 1903
ResidencePelham, New York

Ezra Torrance Gilliland (June 17, 1845 -- May 13, 1903) was an inventor who designed the telephone switchboard and the magneto bell.[1] Gilliland had a laboratory in his home and "kept seven expert electricians employed" as he worked on his ideas.[1] He built the first telephone exchange in Indianapolis in the 1870s under the name Gilliland Telephone Manufacturing Company and later worked for the Bell Telephone Company.[2][3][4]

Gilliland was a friend and colleague of Thomas Edison and the two worked together on many projects. They met as young men and called each other "Damon and Pythias" because of their close friendship.[4] Edison met his second wife at Gilliland's home.[5] Gilliland wrote frequently in trade journals promoting Edison's inventions.[6] The two were business partners, even occupying adjacent vacation homes in Fort Myers, Florida, until 1889 when they had a falling out over business dealings.[7][8][9]

Personal life[edit]

Gilliland married Lillian M. Johnson.[10] They movied to Pelham New York in the early 1890s.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Obituary - Ezra T. Gilliand" (PDF). New Rochelle Pioneer (Vo. 45 No. 8). May 16, 1903. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  2. ^ "E. T. GILLILAND DIED AT HIS NEW YORK HOME -- A FAMOUS INVENTOR -- KNOWN IN INDIANAPOLIS -- ASSOCIATED WITH EDISON,". Indianapolis News. 13 May 1903. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Early Telegraph and Electrical Manufacturers". Telegraph-History. 1918-02-16. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  4. ^ a b "The Diary of Thomas Edison". ariwatch.com. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  5. ^ "Obituary, Mina Miller (Mrs Thomas A.) Edison, August 25th, 1947 · Edison Papers Digital Edition". The Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University. 1947-08-25. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  6. ^ Gilliland, Ezra (May 19, 1888). "The Phonograph". Electrical World. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  7. ^ "The House (and Gardens) That Tom Built - October 2010 - Naples, FL". Gulfshore Life. 1947-02-19. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  8. ^ "AGAINST EDISON.; THE WIZARD'S SUIT AGAINST GILLILAND AND TOMLINSON DECIDED". New York Times. April 11, 1890. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Maintenance temporarily closes Edison guest house". The News-Press. 2014-10-10. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  10. ^ "Good Times Began At Home and Stayed There In The Old Days In The Manor" (PDF). Pelham Sun (Sep. 9, 1938). Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Historic Pelham: Lillian Johnson Gilliland's Memories of Thomas Edison and 19th Century Life in Pelham Manor". Historic Pelham. 2004-02-23. Retrieved 2019-01-06.

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