Sunday, November 5, 2017

Nephews of Haish's housekeeper share her story

Anna Anderson and her brother Charlie. | Photo provided by John Anderson, of DeKalb.
Anna Anderson is known to some as Jacob Haish's longtime housekeeper, someone who was close enough to Jacob and Sophia that she was given lifetime use of the mansion after their passing.

To others, she's remembered as a sweet, hardworking aunt.

I met with John Anderson, of DeKalb, and Jim Anderson, who currently resides in Utah. Anna was their great aunt. Anna was the sister of their grandfather, who was also named John Anderson. 

Anna's nephews remember her as a "quiet" woman. Although she was an immigrant, both John and Jim remember that she could speak English very well.

"She had a funny voice," Jim recalls. "I remember her voice, it was a little bit on the deeper side."

John said he recalls her being a "big boned" woman.

"Well, all the family is big Swedes," Jim said with a laugh.

Anna was born May 28, 1881 in Skane, Sweden, according to her obituary in the Daily Chronicle. She died Nov. 8, 1953.

John said he believes it was Jacob's wife who hired Anna.

"[Sophia Haish] told a friend she needed a housekeeper and she said 'I've got just the person -- my sister Anna,'" John said. "I'm not sure what [Anna] did before that."

Anna Anderson (in front wearing a corsage on her chest) and some of her family members. | Photo provided by John Anderson, of DeKalb.
John shared a letter, which was written by Genevieve Jacobson, a niece of Anna's, to document family history. The information regarding Anna is in full below:

"I don't know when Aunt Anna came over [from Sweden] but she must have been older because she was engaged to be married. She broke the engagement because she felt he drank too much. It is my understanding he was so despondent he was sick in bed for two months afterwards. Aunt Anna also worked for wealthy people and Mother said they were all so fond of her. After our father and mother got married though, she came to DeKalb and for a while was very unhappy.

Dad's aunt got her a job with Jacob Haish (one of the inventors of barbed wire,) who had an elegant home on the corner of Third and Pine in DeKalb, Illinois. It was modeled after a German castle and he even had artists from Germany come over and paint his childhood scenes on the walls and domes of the ceilings. She was sort of a practical nurse as they were both getting up in age. He lived to be 99. The work was pretty hard because he was more or less bedridden the last few years, and at one time, she thought she couldn't take it any longer. Mrs. Haish had died probably 8 years previously. Anyhow, Mr. Haish's lawyer advised her not to leave because she would be well taken care of when he died -- which she was. The home and everything in it was hers as long as she lived. Anything she wanted, all she had to do was ask for it -- automobile, living expenses, trips, clothes, upkeep of the grounds, decorating, etc.

I think Aunt Anna lived about 27 years after Mr. Haish died, so I guess it was worth it. After he died, she did marry but it didn't last long. She got a divorce and he was sent on his way (sort of a hushed up affair.) She didn't have to even go to court. Haish's lawyer was also the judge, so all she had to do was sign the papers, and it was all over." 

John explained what he recollected about Anna's divorce.

"After Jacob died, she did get married and he just thought she was going to be full of money, because she lived in this big house and everything." John said. "That's all he wanted was the money. So she went to the lawyer and told him about it, and he had it annulled."

Jim said they've never been able to even find a record of this marriage.

Anna's brother John Anderson (left) and Jacob Haish (right) pose for a photograph in front of the Haish mansion. The photograph was taken by Anna Anderson, "who was usually the one taking the photos," said John Anderson, the grandson of John in the photo. | Photo provided by John Anderson, of DeKalb.
Jim and John have faint memories of visiting the Haish mansion once it belonged to their great aunt. 

Jim recalls seeing the third floor of the mansion, with a stage area for a band or orchestra. 

"There was also a side room with a barber chair," Jim said. "I just assumed he had his hair cut there."

The Andersons would have family reunions at the Haish mansion in the summertime. Jim also once attended a Thanksgiving dinner that Anna hosted there. John was in California at the time, but Jim still remembers the dinner they had that night.

"I remember [Anna's] pudding," Jim said. "My wife, I always give her a hard time, because I can't remember how [Anna] made it. I know it had brandy in it and it tasted really good. I can't remember if it was dates or fig. It was great!"

John wonders if Mrs. Haish or Anna would have done the cooking for the household.

"All I know is that [Jacob Haish] hired a housekeeper, and that just evolved into more work as [the Haishs] got older," John said.

Jim recalled that the Ellwood family had a housekeeper that close friends with Anna. Her name was Emma, and she was a fellow Swedish immigrant. 

"They were very close," Jim said.

John said Anna is remembered as a friendly person, up until she passed away in 1953, almost 30 years after Jacob Haish's death.

"[Jim] has a good friend that was raised in that neighborhood," John said. "Aunt Anna would come up from the grocery store in her car, and when they'd see the car there, they'd go help her take the groceries in. She was always good for some cookies."



Anna Anderson's death certificate | DeKalb County Clerk's Office
Anna Anderson's obituary, as it appeared in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Barb City Bank takes shape

Barb City Bank check, courtesy of Steve Bigolin. Click image to enlarge.

Printed in the Dec. 9, 1885, edition of the Sycamore True Republican:

"That $100,000 project has taken definite shape, and the curious as well as the interested public can have an opportunity, on Thanksgiving day, between the hours of 8 and 10, of inspecting a new bank. It is to be called the "Barb City Bank," with Jacob Haish as president, and Paul Holm as cashier.

The office furniture and belongings will be of the latest design, and everything pertaining to the outfit will be designed with special care for the comfort and accommodation of its patrons, while giving ample security for the safe keeping and accounting of all funds entrusted to its protection. Not only is the vault fire proof, but within its walls will dwell a burglar and fire proof safe of the very latest pattern, provided with a time lock and all the modern improvements that skilled labor can invent to make it absolutely secure. The vault will also be provided with a set of fire proof, securely locked, drawers, where persons desirous of depositing valuable papers, silverware, etc., can do so, having entire control of their own key. They can at any time inspect or change or look over their contents in the private room of the bank without being disturbed. To parties leaving home for a season this feature of the bank will supply a growing need.

Arrangements are made for furnishing Chicago, New York and foreign exchange, and the utmost attention will be given to needs of the people. Mr. Haish desires it understood that the most gentlemanly treatment and courtesy will be accorded all. An exchange, loan and discount business will be done on the most liberal terms. The bank will occupy the room of the "S" barb wire office, the latter moving to rooms overhead on the second floor."

Thanks to Joiner History Room for providing this article.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Artwork keeps spirit of Haish mansion alive

From September 1978 through June 1981, W. Joseph Zack, a Northern Illinois University student, was working on his thesis for his Master of Fine Arts degree. His "one-man show" captured the likeness of many of DeKalb's most famous buildings, including the Egyptian Theatre, Ellwood mansion, and the Jacob Haish mansion.

According to his thesis, "the concentration of work for my one-man show dealt with the refinement of illustrations, rendered in ink, watercolor and airbrush, and the execution of museum quality architectural models. It was also my wish to develop strong competencies in the area of architectural history."
An undated photo shows former NIU student W. Joseph Zack working on a model of the Jacob Haish mansion. | Photo at Regional History Center, taken by Jessi LaRue
Shortly after Zack's project was completed, his items were on display at both the Ellwood House Museum, and later the DeKalb Public Library. After exhibition, the items were donated to the Regional History Center at Northern Illinois University, where they remain to this day.

Of all the items Zack created for his project, he created four Haish-related pieces: a watercolor, two ink drawings, and a model, all of the Haish house. The current owner/location of the watercolor is unknown, but the drawings and model can still be viewed at the Regional History Center.
An illustration of the Jacob Haish residence by W. Joseph Zack. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

An illustration of the Jacob Haish residence by W. Joseph Zack. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
"My one-man show was ultimately a presentation of architectural illustrations and models as an art form and as an educational effort directed towards the public interest," Zack wrote in his thesis.

According to the thesis, the model was created using a variety of woods, paper and plastic products, and paints. Woods used in the model include maple, walnut, mahogany, oak, pine and more.

An undated photo of the Jacob Haish model, taken shortly after completion. | Photo at Regional History Center, taken by Jessi LaRue
The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Below are photos of the model and drawings. The model is not in the same condition as it was in its prime, however, it still gives a great representation of a building that no longer stands.

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The Jacob Haish mansion model today. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Thank you to Cindy Ditzler of the Regional History Center for allowing me to photograph and share these items.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

More Haish mansion photos unearthed

Remember Sycamore resident Roger Alexander? As a teenager in July 1961, he took what may be some of the last photos of the Haish mansion. He shared some of his photos last year, and they were posted here.

Alexander just discovered more photos from that day in summer 1961, and they are below, posted with his permission.

Alexander said the woman who led him through the house told him that "each of the fireplaces were made from marble from five continents." 

He added, "I am sorry to say I wasn't much of a photographer back then, but they do give a feel for what was lost."
Details of the Haish mansion. | Photo by Roger Alexander

Details of the Haish mansion. | Photo by Roger Alexander

Details of the Haish mansion. | Photo by Roger Alexander

Details of the Haish mansion. | Photo by Roger Alexander

Details of the Haish mansion. | Photo by Roger Alexander

Details of the Haish mansion. | Photo by Roger Alexander

Details of the Haish mansion. | Photo by Roger Alexander

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Haish Monument at Fairview Cemetery

Below are a few recent photos of the Haish monument, taken on Sept. 21, 2017 by Jessi LaRue. The Haish monument, where barbed wire baron Jacob Haish and his wife Sophia are buried, resides in the back of Fairview Cemetery, in DeKalb.

The Haish monument in Fairview Cemetery, DeKalb. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Detail of the Haish monument in Fairview Cemetery, DeKalb. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The urn at the Haish monument in Fairview Cemetery, DeKalb. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Haish monument in Fairview Cemetery, DeKalb. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The copyright on the Haish monument in Fairview Cemetery, DeKalb. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The Haish monument in Fairview Cemetery, DeKalb. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Jacob Haish funds college library

The Haish Library, in Altgeld Hall, as pictured in the 1900 edition of the "Norther," the school yearbook. 
In 1895, Jacob Haish donated $10,000 for construction of a library at the Northern Illinois State Normal School, now known as Northern Illinois University. The library, seen in images below, was originally in Altgeld Hall, or the "castle" of NIU.

The college library was called the "Haish Library," not to be confused with the city library, the Haish Memorial Library, which was constructed after Haish's death.

According to documentation in the Ellwood House Visitor's Center, "this money was used to acquire almost 6,000 books during the library's first year of operation. By 1952, the library outgrew its space in Altgeld Hall and was moved to Swen Parson Hall. Once again, outgrowing the space, the 314,000 square-foot Founders Memorial Library was constructed."

A Daily Chronicle article, reprinted in a 1926 edition, stated: "Mr. Haish's gift was the nucleus of a library that is on a par with the libraries in the other four state colleges of the state ... Mr. Haish was a lover of books and wished others to realize the same joy. In giving the money for a library at the college he realized that he would afford students the opportunity of using books that they might not otherwise have been able to secure."

One piece of history was lost somewhere along the way, however. The white bust of Haish, seen in these images of the library, was somehow lost in transition from building to building, according to multiple local historians. The eventual outcome of the bust is unknown.

According to the same Daily Chronicle article, "the bust is a perfect likeness of the great man and is so located in the large room that it commands the attention of all who enter."
The Haish Library, on the campus of Northern Illinois State Normal School, now known as NIU. The white bust of Jacob Haish can be seen on the back wall. | Courtesy Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

HAISH ENGINE GETS AN ORDER

The below article was published in the Sept. 18, 1916, edition of the Sycamore True Republican, as provided by the Joiner History Room:

HAISH ENGINE GETS AN ORDER
--
Superintendent of Wisconsin State Fair Buys Machinery For Himself
--
Local Mechanism is Chosen Above All of the Famous Kinds of the Country at State Fair

Superintendent Allan Hinds of the Haish industries is feeling highly pleased today over a little business news concerning the famous Haish engines. 

It seems that the Haish concern had a big exhibit at Milwaukee last week at the Wisconsin state fair in charge of Messrs. Rose and Gibler. At the same fair were the products of a score or more of other engine factories and the competition for orders was hot.

After looking thoroughly into the merits of the various machines, Mr. Chinock, superintendent of the fair, member of the Wisconsin legislature and a prominent farmer, ordered a lot of Haish machinery over the others exhibited there and asked the Haish people to establish an agency at his home town of Hudson.

This unsought for and voluntary expression of confidence in the DeKalb machine pleases the local officials very much. The firm has exhibits now at Elkhorn, Wis., Knoxville, and Aledo, Ill., under charge of Messrs. Briggs, Curns, and Needham and next week they will all unite in an exhibit at the Peoria fair.

Details of a Haish gas engine currently owned by Haish family descendant Jeff Marshall. | Photo by Jessi LaRue