Sunday, July 23, 2017


The below article was published in the March 9, 1922, edition of the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. Although Jacob Haish looked forward to his 100th birthday, he would die just a few weeks before he could celebrate it. This article celebrates Haish's 96th birthday.

- - - 

Veteran Manufacturer Banker Spends 96th Birthday at the Bank

"Ninety-six years young! I don't feel any older today than a year ago, and I believe I feel younger than I did when I celebrated my 86th birthday."

Such was the answer to the inquiry made by Jacob Haish, DeKalb's veteran manufacturer, as he sat in his usual chair at the Jacob Haish State Bank this afternoon, when, after congratulations, he was asked how he felt.

Mr. Haish, with just a slight moisture in his eyes, told how many people had remembered him on his birthday, friends in New York remembering that today marked his 96th year of a most successful life. Ninety-six beautiful rosebuds, with an extra one "to grow on," were sent to his home during the day, and everyone knows how Jacob Haish admires flowers. He spoke feelingly of the donors of the flowers, expressing the wish that he might live to receive 101 of such roses.

"Today is a beautiful day, and I wish that I might walk home, but I begin to get tired after I walk a block, so I save shoe leather and ride back and forth in my car."

Mr. Haish stated that he was feeling as well as he had ever felt in years past, in fact better than ten years ago. His physician tells him that he is sound and in unusually good health for a man that is starting out on his 97th year of life. 

"You know," concluded Mr. Haish, "I have been around this country, this state and this city so many years I like it, and I have no great desire to go anywhere else for many years yet. I hope to live to celebrate my 100th anniversary and it will be a most enjoyable celebration, too."

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Jacob Haish's improvements for lighting railway coaches

Jacob Haish had the creative, working mind of an inventor. If he thought there was a better, more efficient way of doing something, he was going to create it. 

And then patent it. 

The patent below is for "new and useful Improvements in Lighting Railway Coaches." The application was filed October 14, 1886, and the patent was awarded April 12, 1887. Click the below images to enlarge.
Image via Google Patents
Image via Google Patents

Image via Google Patents

An excerpt from the patent papers is below: 

"This invention relates to improvements in simultaneously lighting the interior of the railway-coach and the platform, also in using the same light for a train-signal, all as will now be fully set out and described, reference being had to the accompanying drawings." 

To read more from the patent description, click here.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Jacob Haish historical marker dedicated

The Jacob Haish historical marker now stands outside of the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The Jacob Haish historical marker was sponsored by DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association, the Illinois State Historical Society, and local contributors. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The Jacob Haish historical marker was dedicated and unveiled Saturday, June 17, at the DeKalb Public Library. The marker was sponsored in part by the Illinois State Historical Society and DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association (DAAHA.)

The marker was 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.

Many members of the community, as well as members of the Haish family, gathered Saturday to listen to speeches and see the official unveiling of DAAHA's seventh historical marker in the area. 
DAAHA Board President Norm Larson speaks during the Jacob Haish historical marker dedication on June 17, 2017. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Haish family representative Jeff Marshall told Haish's story during the marker dedication ceremony. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Larry Mix, member of the DAAHA historical marker subcommittee, read the marker's text to the audience. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
DAAHA Board President Norm Larson remarked how incredible it is to think that the Haish marker will be there for generations 100 years from now to enjoy.

Emily Faulkner, DeKalb Public Library director, spoke during the ceremony and told her own story as a young girl living on Haish Boulevard in DeKalb, growing up believing Haish was a president of the United States, much like most other street namesakes in the town.

Jeff Marshall, of DeKalb, represented the Haish family and gave a historical perspective on his third great uncle, a German immigrant who spent his life creating agricultural innovations, such as barbed wire and farming implements.

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith and Rep. Robert Pritchard, Illinois House of Representatives, also spoke during the ceremony, recognizing Haish's philanthropy and generous gifts to the community, including money for a library, hospital, and the first college in the area, today known as Northern Illinois University.

Local historian Steve Bigolin said it was a great day for Haish to "finally get more recognition."

Following the remarks, Haish family descendants Jeff Marshall and Jessi LaRue unveiled the marker to the community. 
Haish family descendants Jeff Marshall and Jessi LaRue unveil the Jacob Haish historical marker on June 17, 2017. | Photo by Christopher LaRue
Jeff Marshall and Jessi LaRue, Haish family descendants, unveil the historical marker. Jacob Haish is Marshall's 3rd great uncle, and LaRue's 4th great uncle. | Photo by Christopher LaRue
A photo of all Haish descendants that were in attendance that day was also taken.
Haish family descendants Jeff Marshall and Jessi LaRue pose by DAAHA's latest historical marker. | Photo by Christopher LaRue
Some Haish family descendants pose by the Jacob Haish historical marker. | Photo by Christopher LaRue
DAAHA also acknowledged the generous contributions of the following individuals and organizations whose gifts made the marker possible:
Pat Barger
Gordon's Hardware
Kevin and Becky Haish
Steve Heinsohn
Historical Museum of Barbed Wire
Ronald Klein
Christopher and Jessi LaRue
Henry Leonard
Jeff Marshall
James Morel
John Nelson
Penny A. Rosenow Trust
James Stoddard
Delbert and Ruth Trew
Eldona Willrett
The Jacob Haish historical marker is now posted outside of the Haish Memorial Library/DeKalb Public Library on Oak Street in DeKalb. Click photo to enlarge. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Haish advertisement in The Prairie Farmer Journal

Photo by Jessi LaRue
I recently stumbled upon this edition of "The Prairie Farmer Journal" while browsing through eBay. 

The masthead and flag of this publication are unique; it states "The Prairie Farmer Weekly Journal for The Farm, Orchard and Fireside." It also encourages readers: "Farmers, Write for Your Paper." This particular edition is labeled as "Chicago, Saturday, March 22, 1879."
Photo by Jessi LaRue
The seller of this newspaper pointed out that the journal boasted many advertisements, including an ad for Jacob Haish's spools of S-barb wire.

The ad encourages farmers to "Write J. Haish & Co., DeKalb, Ills., for particulars" and to "send for 'Barb Fence Regulators,'" which was Haish's publication that promoted his own wire and other products.
Photo by Jessi LaRue

Photo by Jessi LaRue

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.