It was late in the year when some early settlers decided to look for their holiday dinner. Between Lowell and Crown Point, when the prairie was open and wild, there were some small marshes scattered across the countryside. Here, many wild geese would stop for a rest and for food.
Two young men in a wagon drawn by two horses, one reputed to be lazy but quick enough in his actions when startled, were returning homeward across this open prairie. A woman was also in the wagon.
As they approached one of these small marshes, they saw a few hundred geese on the newly-formed ice. They had with them one double-barreled shotgun, loaded for geese.
The ground was very rough and there were many bogs, frozen hard. But the temptation was great as one of the young men picked up the shotgun, while the other drove the team along the jolting edge of the marsh. They came within nearly 100 feet of the big birds, the young man with the gun shouted, and the geese arose in one black mass. Suddenly both barrels of the gun were discharged, both horses started at a gallop, and the woman fell from her seat into the wagon bottom. The man driving wound the lines tightly around his hands, braced himself against the front of the box as the wagon bounded from bog to bog, and finally brought the horses to a halt.
The young man with the shotgun also found himself in the bottom of the wagon box, bewildered, but safe. When they returned to the location of the shot, they found five large fat wild geese on the thin ice, and their holiday feast was assured!
Residents of the area using their modern day telephones for holiday calls to their relatives may wonder when the system was established.
The Crown Point Telephone Company was organized April 5, 1896, and by 1900 two hundred and forty telephones were in that town, with lines leading out to the Lowell Telephone Company. Lines also went from Crown Point to Leroy to Eagle Creek Township, to Cedar Lake and on to Hammond. From the Lowell Office, there was a connection with Hebron, Valparaiso, LaPorte, Rensselaer and many other places in northwestern Indiana.
At the turn of the century there were 126 toll line stations extending to Logansport, Kentland, Michigan City and Lake Village.
Rev. Timothy Ball, historian, wrote in 1900: "There is a network of telephones all over these counties now, the prediction of which sixty years ago would have astonished the pioneers. It is a wonderful means of communication." At that time, some of the neighborhoods connected to Crown Point and Plum Grove and some of the farmers could talk with their neighbors or with friends at Lowell and other towns to enjoy the benefit of a personal visit.
The Jasper County Telephone Company, with stockholders Delos Thompson, C.C. Sigler, and others, was organized in 1895, and the construction began in July 1895. Before the end of that year, poles were erected and lines were extended to Remington, Wolcott, Reynolds, Brookston, Chalmers and to Lafayette. The towns, large farms, the cattle ranches along the Kankakee were connected by these "wonderful Telephone wires" with Rensselaer as the center. By the 1920's, not all of the telephone lines were installed in the country near Lowell. Telephone crews came to town with their large hard-tired trucks and stayed all week at the Heiser Hotel on West Commercial, while they worked constructing new lines in the area.
In the Lake County Directory of 1909, Clifford O. Hill is listed as the manager of the Lowell Telephone Exchange, a position he held for many years. The telephone office was on the second floor above the storefront at 418 East Commercial Avenue in downtown Lowell, and a large brick building to the rear was used as a storeroom. The Lowell Exchange, along with most of the other early telephone companies in the area, was taken over years ago by the larger Bell companies.
In 1900 there were over a million telephones in the U.S., and by 1947 that total had climbed to over 31 million, nearly 58 percent of the world's total. Today's cellular phone is quite a change from the old party line phone with a hand crank.
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