avatar_wolfeGerhard Wölfe (1802-1881) had long been the proprietor of a small carrier pigeon route in Maryland when the Civil War broke out. As fate would have it, Wölfe was a childhood chum of Montgomery Blair, who had been appointed as Postmaster-General and a member of President Lincoln’s first cabinet in 1861. Blair contracted Wölfe Pigeon Express to expand throughout New England, and through the war and subsequent reconstruction, the company grew to include more than 20 routes across 12 states.

In 1864, President Lincoln made some changes in his cabinet, most notably requesting the resignation of Montgomery Blair, who was succeeded by William Dennison, the former governor of Ohio. Shortly before leaving office in 1866, Dennison (long known as a fervent networker) introduced Gerhard Wölfe to his son, Millard, who was a rising telecommunications star on the east coast.

avatar_dennisonMillard Dennison (1840-1912) went to work as an apprentice for Samuel Morse in 1857, as the earliest attempts at establishing a transatlantic telegraph cable were underway. Young Dennison was a noted technological contributor to the project, ultimately becoming project lead of the first commercially successful transatlantic telegraph cable, which was successfully completed on July 18, 1866.

In late 1866, having achieved a milestone that was lauded in newspapers around the world, Dennison launched his own firm, Dennison Telegraph Group, with the blessing of Samuel Morse. DTG grew rapidly, and by 1874 was the third largest telegraph operation in the United States.

The disruptive nature of the telegraph, however, had a noted impact on the carrier pigeon industry. Gerhard Wölfe saw the writing on the wall as an opportunity to enjoy his twilight years in comfortable retirement. He had become something of a mentor to Millard Dennison in the eight years since they had been introduced, which paved the way for an amicable merger in 1876, with Wölfe taking the position of chairman emeritus and Dennison, CEO, for the newly formed Dennison+Wolfe Communications Group.

A mere fortnight after completing the merger, D+W was retained as the official communications provider of the Centennial Celebration, which connected all 37 states and the territory of Colorado in the first event of its kind.

Millard Dennison artfully ran Dennison+Wolfe for another 36 years until his death in 1912. The company has been stewarded through a series of technological innovations, including key innovation partnerships that have led to the development of radiotelegraphy, telex, the ARPANET packet switching research network and ultimately, the modern Internet.

The company was renamed Dennison+Wolfe Internet Group in 1994, and continues to fulfill the founders’ vision of a new world communications network.