Anson Stager was the co-founder of Western Union, the first president of Western Electric Manufacturing Company and Union Army general, where he was head of the Military Telegraph Department during the Civil War.
Stager, Anson was born on April 20, 1825 in Ontario County, New York, United States.
Studied telegraphy in spare time.
At age sixteen, Stager began working as an apprentice on the Rochester Daily Advertiser for a printer and telegraph builder named Henry O'Reilly of Rochester, New York. After the latter had a telegraph line constructed from Philadelphia to Harrisburg he placed Stager in operator positions in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and then at age 21 he was put in charge of the first Lancaster, Pennsylvania office in 1846. In the spring of 1848, he was made chief operator of the "National lines" at Cincinnati, Ohio, where he made several improvements in battery and wire arrangement.
In 1852 Stager was promoted to superintendent, and also served as the first general superintendent of Western Union Company, newly consolidated in 1856. After the Civil War broke out in April 1861, Stager was requested by Ohio governor William Dennison, Jr. to manage the telegraphs in southern Ohio and along the Virginia Line. Stager obliged and immediately prepared a cipher by which he could securely communicate with those who had the key (notably the governors of Illinois and Indiana).
In October he was called to Washington and appointed head of the Military Telegraph Department, which oversaw government telegraphs in all departments. He remained in service until September, 1868, and was made a brevet brigadier general of volunteers for valuable services. In 1869 General Stager moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he served as president of Western Electric.
He was also president of the Chicago Telephone Company and president of the Western Edison Company, and secured a consolidation of the two. Anson Stager died in Chicago, Illinois on March 26, 1885 and was survived by three daughters.