Kansas Homesteads Employed Primitive Phones

Folks living on close Kansas homesteads shared responsibility of keeping primitive phones working.

| Good Old Days

Within five years after we moved to a 160-acre place in Morton County, Kansas, there were probably a dozen Kansas homesteads widely scattered in our area and the people there decided to set up a phone system amongst the plains settlers.

Each family was responsible for its own phone, so we all installed a phone box on the wall and provided the two dry-cell batteries which powered it. Turning a crank on the box would ring every telephone on the line; each family had its own signal, such as two shorts, or a short and a long, and so forth.

The telephone line was the top wire of barbed wire fence, which gave good service only if all splices were tight. If there was a gate in the fence, a pole or a 2-by-4 about 10 feet high was nailed to each gate post, and then a wire was wrapped tightly around the fence wire and run to the top of one high pole, fastened to an insulator there, strung across the opening to the insulator on the second pole and down to the fence line again.

Stringing wire in this manner permitted high loads to pass thru the gate.

These phones saved the people many trips, but reception was not always good and in times of high wind it could be poor. 

Floyd Morgan
Vashon, VVashington

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: February 16-17, 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe today

Capper's FarmerWant to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at Grit.com — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $22.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds