Before the development of radio, some amateur experimenters linked together with each other by stringing private telegraph lines throughout their neighborhood or town.
 
Electrical Review, August 6, 1892, page 308:

Amateur Telegraphers.

    It would be interesting to see some statistics of the little amateur telegraph organizations now in operation all over the country, says the New York Evening Post. No one knows how many of these there are, but it is said that nearly every State has several. Out in the village of Cranford, N. J. are a couple proposing to consolidate, after the manner of all telegraphs. If they do, they will have no fewer than 30 stations and a total of 3½ miles of circuit. The lines are governed by an executive committee, which gets the supplies and transacts routine business, and there is a complete code of fire, burglar and emergency signals. Evidently the young people, with a little training, could make such a service of great convenience in our straggling villages and suburbs; and by and by, when the telephone is common property, it is not too much to expect that these amateur bodies will increase rapidly in number and usefulness. The same idea carried out in farming regions would go far to overcome the monotony and isolation of farm life, and to offset the drawbacks of bad roads. The expense of an outfit is trivial.