In the Beginning
In May, 1889, after a representative of the Equitable Telephone Company of Cape Girardeau, Missouri planted the idea to build a telephone line connecting adjoining towns, business men from La Cygne, Pleasanton & Mound City formed a stock company, “Border Telephone Company.” With much enthusiasm, the line connecting all three towns was completed by the end of the year and plans to connect to Paola with an eventual link to Kansas City were being discussed.
On December 17, 1902, C.R. Baldwin established a La Cygne City Exchange. A central office was setup over Broadwell’s Drug Store and by May 1, 1903 the La Cygne Telephone Exchange was serving the city with 58 phones. While building the La Cygne Exchange, G.W. Yenser was also building some country lines. In July 1903, he completed a line to Amsterdam and other points east of town.
The telephone snarl was rapidly becoming a problem. On May 26, 1905, representatives from all lines met to discuss what might be done to unite the various lines and furnish service to all. This led to the formation of Peoples Mutual Telephone Company. Under direction of N.D. Patterson, a central switch board was ordered July 7, 1905 and a new office was opened above the La Cygne State Bank at Commercial and Broadway in La Cygne.
During this time, the La Cygne Exchange and Toll lines, started operating under the name of Consolidated Telephone Company and was in competition with Peoples Mutual Telephone Company. The two companies eventually joined together.
As Peoples Mutual Telephone continued to expand into the rural areas, the process to incorporate was started January 3, 1914. April 1, 1916, all offices moved to the upper floor of a building located at the southeast corner of Walnut and Broadway. Exchange lines reached from the Missouri border on the east to Fairview, Prairie Home and other adjoining communities on the west. In July, 1929 the purchase of the Boicourt Exchange completed the coverage to the south.
With the coming of automation, a new building was built at 224 North Broadway. This building housed the switching, garages and business office. 1976 brought the completion of upgrading the system to buried cable and to one party service, a building expansion and move of the switching and business offices to 210 N Broadway. An upgrade to digital switching was installed in 1985 and computers became part of the switch and daily routines in 1989. The current office building located at 208 N Broadway, was built in 2000.
In 2004, Kathy (Faircloth) Billinger became the first woman manager for Peoples Telecommunications, LLC. In 2005, the new outside plant building was built at 210 Commerce St. In 2007, the first Fiber to the Premises was placed in a portion of Linn Valley Lakes replacing the existing copper lines. The digital switch was replaced in 2009 by a softswitch and Fiber to the Premises was constructed within the City of La Cygne. In 2011 and 2012, the remaining portions of Linn Valley and the rural portions of the exchange were all upgraded to Fiber to the Premises.
Internet was first introduced to customers of Peoples in the 1990s. This was accomplished through dial up. Gradually, this service was improved through the means of DSL (digital subscriber line) over copper. This has now been replaced with high speed internet through fiber optics. In 2013, Peoples began offering television over the fiber through its affiliate, Peoples Services, LLC. In 2016, Peoples was recognized by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association as a Gig-Capable Certified Provider.
2016 has seen expansion through Peoples Services, LLC into the city of Louisburg, Kansas. A Fiber to the Premises network is currently being constructed within the city. Through this network, high speed internet and television will be available.
Jennifer Leach, CEO/General Manager