Kauai’s early telephone days

During the early 1870s, Grove Farm Plantation owner G.N. Wilcox and W.H. Rice introduced telephone service to Kauai by constructing a private telephone line linking their homes at Grove Farm and Lihue by phone with Dr. James W. Smith’s residence at Koloa.

In 1880, Wilcox incorporated Kauai Telephone Company and extended the phone line to A.S. Wilcox’s house at Hanamaulu and George Dole’s place in Kapaa.

Then in 1891, John Ashton Hogg was hired on at Kauai Telephone Company to install an island-wide telephone system, and under his direction, by 1911, Kauai’s telephone network stretched from Haena to Mana.

Hogg superintended the Kauai system for about 22 years, when he retired to start his own business, Kauai Garage Company.

One of his sons, by the way, was Hawaii aviation pioneer Bertram James “Jimmy” Hogg.

Making a phone call on Kauai in those early days was no piece of cake, as is indicated by Kauai Telephone Company’s general calling rules for 1914:

1. Before making a call, take down the receiver and see if the line is in use; if in use, hang up the receiver at once, and wait for disconnect bell.

2. Conversations limited to five minutes.

3. To call Central, ring one short bell (DO NOT WAIT FOR CENTRAL TO ANSWER YOU BACK ON THE BELL), place the receiver firmly to the ear, when Central will ask “NUMBER PLEASE,” give the number you wish for first and your number last.

4. When you have finished your conversation, hang up the receiver and ring one short bell.

5. When your call is rung, always answer with one short bell.

6. Never ring one bell after you are connected with a number, unless you are through with the line; please remember it is Central’s signal to disconnect.

7. In talking to the transmitter, stand facing it with the mouth not more than one inch from the opening.

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