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Editor's Notes:

My Recollections of the Millburn Farmer's Line

by Vida Elizabeth Jamison White

This line was started by my father, Dr. H. E. Jamison, about 1898.

The first line was built between our house and Will Whites, the undertakers. They tell me Will White built a line between his house and John Cunningham's, but this is before my days. We had several switch boards. I tended phone when I had to stand on the middle round of the old stool to reach the top. In later years the old stool was replaced to a blue metal one.

The telephone batteries were first run with Salmoniac and later by Blue Vitrol. In later years Fletcher Clark of Libertyville and other Bell Telephone men used to want father to change to the Bell line. But he refused and our Bell phone was the only pay phone for five or six miles around. These Bell Telephone men used to help him get new model switch boards and etc. Although at last the old switch board was considered a relic.

This old Farmer's Line was a life saver a good many times. But as time goes on, our world is bigger and it has served its purpose.

There were two doctors at Millburn, father and Dr. Taylor, when this line was built. Taylor was antiquated in his ideas and tried his best for people not to give the right of way. Just as he thought father was crazy when the first appendicitis operation was performed on John _______ on the old kitchen table. But was a success. I think of the difference now.

The first line between father's and Will White's soon wasn't enough and this brings memories of how Aunt Mary White kept track of who was sick. So she could be on hand when they died. We never knew what she would be up to next. Lines on the switch board were numbered up to 10. On the wall next to the switch board was a large cardboard with all the lines. There numbers, people's names and their rings. Long rings were used up to six. Then short rings. Then short and long rings.

Number 1 line was the second line to be built. It went to Lake Villa to Boutwell and Shad's Hardware Store. From there is was later built to Antioch to Liola Hughes, who had the switch board. Father later used to call the drugstore at Lake village (which he owned). But he had his own drug office at Millburn where he fixed his own medicines.

The second line went to Wadsworth Depot. Now people could call father from Lake Villa and Wadsworth.

People commenced putting phones on these lines. They bought the phones from father and he kept the lines in repair. He charged the $3.00 a year for switching and upkeep. Later to $5.00 a year and people thought they were badly abused.

The third line went to Lamb's Corners to Charley Lambs, the undertaker. From this point the Warren Telephone Co. was formed. Later it being all in one township, it was able to have a hook up with Bell Telephone.

Number 4 went to Hickory Corners, later extended on to Bristol and Union Grove. Abbie Hollenbeck later had the central here when lines from Antioch and Rosencrans came there. Later last 20 years this was taken out of the lines went direct to Millburn.

Small lines were brought into the Millburn switch board making a total at one time of 12. For a long time people just came to father's office to do their telephoning.

Such people as Jim Pollock, the wool buyer, who was thrown from his buggy at Bean Hill (now Mrs. Wilton's). The telephone was used to call father. Mother went to Pollock's and called their daughter, Mrs. John Fulton home. When people were used up with liquor quite often their homes were called to tell them they could come home or were coming home not themselves.

Then there was Pikey Strang, the cattle buyer. I used to think he and Johnny Morley cooked up all the dirty _______ in the county and this was all talked on the phone from father's office.

I remember when we put in the first pay Bell Telephone. Mother used to repeat messages for nothing. Imagine anyone doing that now. Most all the Millburn Mutual Fire Insurance calls were transmitted by mother from the long phone John Thain, Sr., Millburn Insurance Co. Later to J. S. Denman, but soon after his term of office began, they put in a long phone.

They had one long ring on all lines in case of fires. When Dan Webb's ______, now Ravencrofts, Dave _______ , Alf Meads, Stevens buildings also the Millburn church. Everybody was called up. By the way, father had a small fire apparatus and they would call him to come on small fires.

The day the church burned, that old telephone buzzed. It was the Annual Insurance Day and the Ladies Aiders left their chicken pies half cooked and went to the fire. As I was head of the dinner committee that day, I always felt if I had left home a little earlier, I might have been there when it started. As it was, we had our chicken pie dinner later, but good at the Masonic Hall and the men had their meeting upstairs in the Hall, which was something unusual. But kindness always comes when most needed. Father was still alive in bed, but not excited. Said the men would take care of the fire. The old minister Holdson came over to the telephone at father's and crying called his Superior churchmen in Chicago and told them "his church was burning."

Sundays that the weather wouldn't permit church, mother would call everybody up and tell them not to come to church. Also when something special was at the church she would let the people know.

When it came to choir practice night and her choir didn't show up, she would go to the phone and rout them out. I expect she was a nuisance sometimes.

A great many Ladies' Aid dinners and meetings were planned over the phone, I wonder how many chickens had themselves almost cooked over this old phone. It might be interesting to know for ______ and Insurance dinners. I expect in the thousands. Insurance Dinner Day was the day telephone dues were almost always paid and the old office would buzz with gossip. If any insurance politics came up, mother would be called upon to rout the people out. As Pikey Strang was always up to something.

Number five line was the continuation of the first line that was built. We called it Ed Martin's Line (the storekeeper), the beau brummel of Millburn. This line extended north to Chris Paulsen's, almost to Hickory Corners.

If the line was wrong or wires crossed, etc, mother would walk with her long stick and uncross them. Chris wouldn't uncross them to save his soul if it was right in front of his house.

Then John Thain, Sec. Millburn Insurance, was on this line. Later Jess Denman, Sec. Millburn Insurance Co. Then the parsonage always had a phone on this line. The Jamisons donated the preachers a phone and their switching until Jess Denman appropriated the phone.

Number 6 line had Jim Pollock, the wool buyer's, phone on it. Later Frank Edwards had this phone and they sure could use the line, blow central up not _____ any switching.

Number seven was Pikey Strang's line, political stirrer up. Also Scott LeVoy had a phone on this line. Who later shot and killed himself and Jim's wife. The old butter factory had a phone on this line. It was situated across from the Millburn School.

Number eight. This line run from Millburn to Antioch and Rosencrans. D. H. Minto, President of Lake County Farm Bureau for centuries, was on this line and his telephoning was repeated by mother to long phone. George and my courtship had something to do with this line, as the White's were on this line. Father was called for the births of our two boys, Homer and Robert. We were called to our homes over this line at the death of all our parents. All telephoning from Antioch to Gurnee went over this line.

Number nine was the Bonneville Line or South Side Line. It at one time had 28 phones on it. They owned and took care of their own line and paid mother for switching. Alfred Bain's store had a phone on this line.

The Masonic Hall, John M. Strang's store, the church, Dave Young's blacksmith shop, Jimmy Jamison's wood work shop or Muzzy wood shop never had phones.

Number ten went to Guy Hughes, VanPatten's, Miller's and Jack's.

Number eleven went up to P______ John Strahn this side of Rosencrans.

Bonneville line and the line running from Ed Martin's store to Frank Edward's were kept running after the switchboard and other lines were discontinued after mother's death in 1937.