An 1883 article in Scientific American narrated how a New Jersey clergyman’s deaf wife was finally able to hear her husband’s sermons in church with the aid of an apparatus. As illustrated in the engraving, the apparatus connected a series of trumpets underneath the church floor, connecting the preacher’s desk to the pews, so that the wife was able to make use of a flexible tube to increase her hearing amplification:
Two cones of tin, about two feet long, fifteen inches diameter at one end and four inches at the other, were placed one on either side of the preacher’s desk, the large end up. A fine wire cloth covered the smaller end, and this end was extended down through the floor. Thence a four inch pipe, gradually diminished to three inches, extended to the cellar, where the two pipes were joined in a single one of three inches, and carried a distance of thirty feet under the floor of the church. Here the three inch pipe was reduced to two inches, and extended upward through the floor and the seat of the pew. Another reduction in size to a diameter of one inch was here effected, and then a flexible tube connected it with a nickel plated ear piece at the proper height. The introduction of the wire cloth serves to obviate the roaring sound, which would otherwise be annoying.
-Scientific American June 16, 1883, p.373