This system was just about noiseless when solid fuel was the source of heat. The heat regulator was a device of some sort that controlled the draft across the fire. As time went on, oil fired burners were put into these units and the thermostat, as we know it today, turned a burner on or off. Occasionally there would be a room, which had trouble being heated, and a circulating fan was introduced to help gravity along.
The octopuses were being installed right up to WWII. By the 50s, almost everyone wanted oil or gas and very few new solid fuel units were manufactured. The high oil prices of the late 70s and early 80s got solid fuel going again - usually as stoves and fireplace inserts. Out in the country, many folks who have access to woodlots have installed remote wood-fired water boilers. Water is then circulated to the house. These furnaces can usually accept chunks of wood that do not have to be split. Wood needs to be added once a day or maybe twice if a house is large and the weather near zero.
I have a neighbor on West Lake Road who heats his house with about $300-$400 worth of logs that he cuts into chunks and splits. He has two high-quality stoves and really enjoys the comfort of real heat and the feeling that he doesn't need lots of sweaters like those of us who have seen the price of propane triple since we put in our heating systems. He still has an oil burner that can maintain minimum heat if he goes on a winter vacation.
Mr. Lemon showed great vigor with lots of nose-down, tail-up sniffing around on Tuesday when the temperature hit the middle 30s. He was reluctant to jump in the Trailblazer to accompany me to the office just to lounge around. In as much as the control collar was in my pocket rather than around his neck, I was worried he would get on a scent and take off if I couldn't trick him into the car. Beagle brains and ears are short-circuited and disconnected when the tail is up and the sniffer is down