Saturday, May 20, 2017

Remnants of Haish mansion furniture

My great-aunt Pam Haish-Brockhaus recently met Janet Anne Fawcett and the two discussed their connections to Jacob Haish. 

Jacob Haish is Brockhaus' second great uncle, while Fawcett's stepfather, Charles Roland, once had scavenging rights to the Haish mansion before it was eventually razed.
The railing spindles were salvaged from the Haish mansion. Charles Roland, of DeKalb, used them to create a railing for his DeKalb home. The piece was later painted white. | Photo provided by Janet Anne Fawcett
"I so loved the Haish home when I was younger," said Fawcett, who was 11 years old when the house was demolished. "My stepdad brought home the railing when the house was demolished. He used most of it in the upstairs of our house in DeKalb. These smaller pieces he used for legs and feet on woodworking projects he built."

Fawcett still utilizes these pieces throughout her DeKalb home. 

"The top and bottom of the railing were built by my stepdad and the original spindles were mounted in between,"  Fawcett said. "The rail was painted white but I would have left it wood. ... It is possible that this rail was from a back staircase or not one in the main entrance."
A small table was salvaged from the Haish mansion by Charles Roland, and it was later painted white. Roland's stepdaughter plans to refinish the table. | Photo provided by Janet Anne Fawcett
A hope chest, made by Fawcett's stepfather, has "feet" that are repurposed wood pieces from Haish mansion railing. | Photo provided by Janet Anne Fawcett
"My stepdad made several pieces of furniture and saved and salvaged lots of stuff," Fawcett said. "My older sister and I have hope chests that he made us that have small feet made from pieces of the rails."

She was also kind enough to provide Haish mansion spindles to Brockhaus and myself, one of which is pictured below.
A mahogany spindle from the Haish mansion. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Fawcett is grateful to be able to incorporate the various pieces in her home, but she wishes the mansion had a different fate.

"I am still sad about the mansion," she said. "I drive past there often and so wish it could have been saved."

Thanks to Janet for sharing her story, and thanks to Pam for connecting me with Janet.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jacob Haish to be recognized with historical marker

Mark your calendar: the dedication ceremony for the Jacob Haish historical marker has been set.

The dedication ceremony for the Illinois State historical marker honoring Jacob Haish will be held at 10:30 a.m. on June 17, 2017, at the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St.

The Haish marker is the latest historical marker designation through the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association, and donations to fund the project have rolled in from barbed wire groups, locals, family descendants and more.
A photo-shopped image shows where the Jacob Haish historical marker will be placed at the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak Street. | Image provided by Bob Myers
The historical marker will detail Haish's contributions to the agricultural community through his innovations such as barbed wire and farming implements. The text on the marker also honors his "eccentric personality and generous philanthropy."

The marker will be posted outside of the DeKalb Public Library, or Haish Memorial Library, as it was originally known, due to Haish's decision to leave $150,000 in his will for a community library.

What: Dedication for the Illinois State Historical Marker honoring Jacob Haish
When: 10:30 a.m. on June 17, 2017
Where: DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St., DeKalb, Illinois

Speakers include: 
Norm Larson, DAAHA board president
William Furry, Illinois State Historical Society executive director
Rep. Robert Pritchard, Illinois House of Representatives, 70th district

Jerry Smith, Mayor of DeKalb
Emily Faulkner, DeKalb Public Library director
Dr. Jeffrey Chown, Northern Illinois University, Dept. of Communications
Jeff Marshall, Haish family representative

The marker will be unveiled following remarks from the speakers.

For more information contact DAAHA at 815-756-8737, or visit

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Barbed wire inspiration started with Henry Rose

Henry M. Rose historical marker in Waterman. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
How did Joseph Glidden, Isaac Ellwood and Jacob Haish have the same idea of attaching barbs to wire? It started with Henry Rose, a farmer from Waterman.

In 1873, all three of the future barbed wire barons were attending a county fair on property that now belongs to Northern Illinois University. 

According to "The Devils Rope: A Cultural History of Barbed Wire," by Alan Krell, "there they came across a most unusual object: a strip of wood about sixteen feet long and one inch square studded with short metal points. Made by Henry M. Rose and patented on 13 May 1873, it was designed to be hung on a plain wire fence as a deterrent to cattle." 

It was on this day that Glidden, Haish and Ellwood spotted the fencing, and they all had the notion to attach the barbs to wire, rather than fence posts. This sole invention spurred three business-minded men to change history.

According to "The Wire that Fenced the West," by Henry D. and Frances T. McCallum, Rose was a farmer from the Waterman area, who just wanted to control a "breachy cow."

"His design was not as good as a few other 'armoured fencing' patterns which had appeared in the lists of United States patents issues five or six years earlier," the book states. "...It was a plain, rough-hewn exhibit and might well have gone unnoticed and unknown, as had most other efforts by other men. But because Henry Rose's work showed up at the right time and place -- the prairie farm belt of Illinois in the early 1870's -- it became famous as the device which triggered action by three men who went ahead to become inventors of practical barbed-wire fencing.

...The men came with no thought of making a discovery. Yet, when by chance they met and stood together examining the crudely spiked strip of wood, each considering how it might fit his personal needs, there was borne in upon the consciousness of each the realization that what he saw gave promise of things to come ... the files of the United States Patent Office record that within six months each of the three men had applied for patent on separate types of fencing, and each type was equipped -- as Henry Rose's had been -- with 'sharp projections' made of wire."

More than 100 years later, a historical marker was dedicated to Rose outside of his former farm on Waterman Road. The marker was dedicated in 1976 by the DeKalb County Board and the DeKalb County Historical Society. The marker can still be found today, outside of the home at 10302 Waterman Road, Waterman, Illinois.

Henry Rose historical marker | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Henry Rose historical marker | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The marker reads:
Originator of barbed fencing

"In the early 1870's when rural life held promise for a nation almost 100 years old, Henry M. Rose farmed this farmstead. He received United States Patent 138-763 for an 'improvement in fence.' Rose used a strip of wood sixteen feet long and an inch square. He cut wire pieces two inches long at a 90 degree angle which were driven into the strips about eight inches apart. The strips were tied to wire fence. When displayed for the public at a fair in 1873 it triggered ideas for all wire barb fencing. His creation was a great step forward in fencing history."

Marker placed by DeKalb County Historical Society and the DeKalb County Board, September 25, 1976.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Haish determines donation to Northern Illinois State Normal School

Click image to enlarge.

Jacob Haish once penned an agreement that stated he would donate $10,000 to the Northern Illinois State Normal School, now known as Northern Illinois University.

He would stay true to his word, and his donation helped fund the school's first library.

Below is the text from the document, dated July 15, 1895. The school was founded that same year.
"For value received, I promise to pay on or before July 15, 1898, to the order of the trustees of the Northern Illinois State Normal School $10,000, without interest, upon the following conditions.

First, that said school be located at DeKalb, Illinois.

Second, that said amount be applied and used by said Trustees for either establishing a library, telescope or gymnasium or any other object that may be deemed advisable for the best interests of said school at my election. Provided that in the event of my death previous to said time of payment, my wife Sophia A. Haish may exercise such election."
Image provided by the Northern Illinois University Archives & Regional History Center

Monday, April 10, 2017

Jacob and Sophia's marriage "license"

I had previously obtained Jacob and Sophia Haish's death certificates from DeKalb County. This time, I reached out to DuPage County to see if they had a copy of Jacob and Sophia's marriage license. The two were wed in the Naperville area.

What the clerk's office sent me was surprising. Jacob and Sophia do not have an official "certificate" on record, instead, their marriage was a listing in a book at the time. (Book 1, page 30, to be exact.)

However, that didn't stop the DuPage County Clerk's office from providing me information. They provided this "placeholder" marriage certificate. The image below is courtesy of the clerk's office, and provides details of Jacob and Sophia's wedding day, including their wedding date of May 24, 1847, and the name of the officiate of the ceremony.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

More About The Old Timers Here

The below article was printed in the June 19, 1915, edition of the Daily Chronicle. It was a follow-up to the article in which Haish claimed he was the oldest living resident in DeKalb.

Jacob Haish Writes The Chronicle Concerning the Early Days
- - -
Still Thinks He Is It One
- - -
Joins With All of the Rest of the Claimants for the Honor in Saying That He Has Enjoyed it Here

The following letter from Jacob Haish is self explanatory. Apparently there seems to be no doubt that Mrs. Mary Huntley King, who was born in 1846 on North First Street, within two blocks of Main Street, is our oldest residenter, but we can all unite with Mr. Haish's statement that he has "had a good time" here and hope that he and all of the rest of our old settlers will be with us many more years.

The Chronicle still thinks that some kind of a social affair each year for our old settlers would be a grand good thing.

Mr. Haish says:

DeKalb, Illinois, June 18, 1915.
Editor DeKalb Chronicle, DeKalb, Illinois.

Dear Sir,
In your paper the other evening I note several of our old residents are taking issue with me as to my being the oldest living resident in point of years spent in DeKalb.

Now, I am positive there is a misunderstanding on their part. I meant to convey the idea that I came here in 1853 and made no reference to others living in the county at that time. I do, however, contend I am the oldest resident from a standpoint of years spent in the corporate limits of DeKalb as well as the oldest resident from the same standpoint that came from outside of the county.

I do not dispute the fact others were born in the vicinity of DeKalb and maybe still living prior to my coming.

After my arrival, others, such as the Bradts, Sweets, Brookings, Garner, Newitt, Ralph, Bristow families. 

I might also state there was no corporation at that time, as it required a certain number of people living here at the time I came to incorporate, and it was sometime afterwards before the necessary number came in order to allow us to do so.

As I look in the matter it does not matter to me who is who but I will say that I have had my residence in DeKalb a " Hallelujah, Rattlety Bang Grand Good Time" and am happy to say I am still on my feet.

Yours very truly,
Jacob Haish

Article provided by the Joiner History Room.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Haish Says He Is The Oldest

The below article was printed in the June 12, 1915, edition of the Daily Chronicle:

Haish Says He Is The Oldest
Brings Down Documents In Proof of His Statement to Chronicle
- - -
Came to DeKalb in 1853
- - -
Makes the Distinction That He Was the First One Now Living to Settle in the Corporation and Not in Township Outside

Jacob Haish was in this morning to set our minds at rest as to who was the oldest "residenter" of DeKalb still in existence here. Mr. Haish claims the honor for himself and has the documents to prove it.

Jacob Haish photo courtesy of
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University
He says that he is the first settler of the tract at present inside the corporate limits of DeKalb, who is still living. He came here in September of 1853. There were others who lived outside the city limits on farms but if they moved to DeKalb they did it many years later.

To prove his statement Mr. Haish had the deed to his first piece of property he owned in this city, the lot on South First street south of the Northwestern tracks on the east side of the street. 

He bought this, he says, in 1858, but did not have the money to pay for it and was not given his deed until the following year. The deed bears the date of December 1854. 

A couple of years afterward, about 1855, he says a lot of other people came here, Robert Newitt, the Garners, the Rolfes, Bristows, Bradts, Brooks, Sweets and others.

Mr. Haish entertained us for some time this morning telling about the early days. He told how he left home in Pennsylvania in the late forties with prospecting parties to come west and look over the country here. Their destination was Naperville and he spent some months in DuPage County ...

Then he moved on again to Kaneville and then he got on a farm down in the "Rooster" church district. Here he was taken sick and afterwards moved back to Kaneville for a short time where he worked at his trade. One day he decided to come a little farther west and he walked from Kaneville to what is now Maple Park.

Just as he trudged into this village along came a little engine dragging two flat cars and making awfully hard work of it. 

"Where are you going?" queried young Jacob.

"Down to the end of the line," said the engine.

"Can I go to Buena Vista with you?" asked the young pilgrim.

"Sure," said the good natured engineman and Jacob hopped aboard.

When he came to the end of the road, about where Fourth street now is the train had to stop and the young pioneer asked the engineer, "Where's Buena Vista?"

"This is it," said the engineer pointing down the street to where there a couple of little buildings and this was Jacob Haish's advent into DeKalb. Buena Vista, for the benefit of those who don't know, was the old name for this village.

There was little of a village here when Mr. Haish arrived. Dr. Basil had a little shack of a store where Hiland's store now is, and Goodell had a general store where the Chronicle is now located. There was a blacksmith shop where the Glidden house now is and that was about all the business houses there were.

Living on farms near the city at this time were Joseph Glidden, William Plank, Clark Barber and others whose names are enrolled in the list of our early settlers but they were not in the village, which is the honor Mr. Haish contends for.

Along in 1854 a Mr. Nichols started a lumber yard here and shortly afterwards a Mr. Page also started one. After that the growth of the little village was steady and rapid, and in all of its growth the personality of Mr. Haish was always prominent.

The Chronicle would be glad to hear from others of the old timers.
Article provided by the Joiner History Room