Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Book recalls Haish's wire story

I've been reading the book "Early United States Barbed Wire Patents" by Jesse S. James, and I must say, it has become one of my favorite books on the topic. From the clever index that features drawings of every included patent, to the interesting stories throughout the book, it's a good reference! I thoroughly enjoyed, and laughed out loud, to this story that begins by referencing Henry Rose's creation, which inspired Haish, Glidden and Ellwood to create barbed wire, once they saw the display at the county fair. 

Hope you enjoy this story about Haish, even if the author may have taken some creative liberty with the dialogue!

"...Jacob Haish also developed and patented a two-strand barbed wire similar to Glidden's. This was the famous 'S' barb. (Patent No. 167,240.) He had previously patented other wires and he believed Glidden's patent infringed on his patent. 

He said, 'It seems to me that old Joe Glidden is trying to steal my idea! Well, I just won't let him do it! I'm gonna see him in court about this!' 

This started the legal battle over barbed wire that lasted many years.

In the meantime both of these guys had their small factories going like mad, and working overtime! They would buy plain smooth wire from back east, fasten their patented stickers upon it and the stuff would sell like hotcakes!

In fact they bought so much of this wire from one large company, that the sales aroused the curiosity of the company's management, and they said, 'Just what the heck's going on out there at DeKalb anyhow?' and, 'What does this Glidden feller and this upstart of a Haish think they're up to?' 

They could easily see that this barbed wire business was going to be a big thing! 

And so at a special meeting of the executives of the Washburn and Moen Manufacturing Co., it was agreed by all that Charles Washburn, who was Vice President of the company, should go to DeKalb and attempt to buy the patent rights and factories of Haish and Glidden.

When Washburn arrived in the busy little town of DeKalb on that day in February 1876, he went first to Jacob Haish and ask him if he would sell. Haish answered, 'Of course, Mr. Washburn, I would sell my patent rights and factory but I would have to have $200,000.' 

'I'm sorry,' Mr. Washburn said, 'But that's quite a bit more than I could pay.'

Haish later told his friends, 'Had Washburn been a typical Yankee and offered me $25,000, I believe I would have accepted it.' Then he added, 'I believe Washburn would have been ahead if he had paid me the $200,000, I asked for, as I've been told that the lawsuits alone have cost his company $1,325,000!'"

Below are images from the book:

Monday, March 8, 2021

Jacob Haish Co. postcards

These two postcards advertise products from Jacob Haish Company: the poultry fence and the twin tie woven wire. "Jacob Haish Co." and "DeKalb, Ill." are printed on the image side of both postcards.

Front side of Twin Tie Woven Wire postcard. | Image provided by Jessi LaRue
Back side of Twin Tie Woven Wire postcard. | Image provided by Jessi LaRue

Twin Tie Woven Wire postcard:

This postcard, above, shows the twin tie woven wire fence, and a cowboy who has been thrown from his horse and right over the fence. In the background you can see a woman running over to help.

The backside of the postcard reads: 

"C. Fischer & Son, Lancaster, Wis. 
Haish Wire Fence, Haish Barbed Wire, Nails, etc."

Front side of Poultry Fence postcard. | Image provided by Jessi LaRue

Back side of Poultry Fence postcard. | Image provided by Jessi LaRue

Poultry Fence postcard:
This postcard, above, shows a well-dressed young boy and his dog. The boy appears to be saying "cock-a-doodle!" with the rooster, who is on the other side of the fence.

The backside of the postcard reads:

Adjustable square mesh chicken fence does not bag, buckle or sag. No top or bottom rails or line posts needed. Only corner posts necessary. Costs no more than old style netting and makes a heavier, more durable fence. Sold by A. Driesens & Son, 338 W. Leonard St., Grand Rapids, Michigan."

Monday, January 18, 2021

Photo: Haish School students and Hattie Chesebro

This photograph of students sitting in front of Haish School was found on eBay. The image, according to writing on the backside, features "Class of 1913, Haish School, S. 9th St." It also names teacher Hattie Chesebro.

According to an article in the March 15, 1990, edition of the Daily Chronicle, in which the paper highlighted local leaders for Women's History Month, Chesebro attended Northern Illinois State Normal School (now known as NIU) and taught eighth grade at Haish School from 1908 to 1943. 

From the article:

"A former student described her as 'a small person who exerted great influence on her pupils.' Someone else called her a 'once-in-a-lifetime teacher.'"

Also from the article:

"Loyal to Haish School, she organized the annual Haish School reunion that took place every summer. Today that school has been razed, but her memory lives on at the newest school in the DeKalb District, the Hattie Chesebro Elementary School." 

Today, this school building is vacant.

Stella Hattie Chesebro was born in DeKalb and lived 1876-1956.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Sell The Chanticleer advertisement

 A unique advertisement for Haish's Chanticleer engines, found on eBay. 

Photo by Jessi LaRue

It reads:

"Sell the Chanticleer
Built in sizes 1 1/2 to 22 horse power
A good line for good dealers
Chanticleer engines have no batteries -- no coils -- no switches -- no wires
Start instantly winter or summer
Chanticleer engines have many exclusive features not found on other engines
Simple -- Durable -- Reliable and Very Powerful
If you want to get the engine business get the agency for the Chanticleer 
Send for catalog and dealer's contract

Chanticleer engines, feed grinders, wood saws, pump jacks, washing machines, ear corn slicers, silo fillers

Send for Bulletin 4-B showing our special binder engine

15 Haish Ave., DeKalb, Illinois
1401 South Main St., Council Bluffs, Iowa
316 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Missouri"

To see a Haish Chanticleer engine in use, click here to watch a video.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Photograph of Jacob Haish

Rob Glover of the Joiner History Room shared this wonderful photograph of Jacob Haish with us. It's one I've never seen before, but what a great image! 

Courtesy of Joiner History Room

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Helen Bingham writes about Haish

The late Barry Schrader gifted me a plethora of books shortly before he passed this year. I've been slowly working through them all, so when I picked up a plain, red-cover book titled "My Scrap Book of Collections and Recollections," I wasn't sure what to expect. I found that this book, written and published by the late DeKalb resident Helen Bingham in 1972, documents her time in the area as well as some local history. She has various sections on early Northern Illinois University, DeKalb corn, and barbed wire. I wanted to share the section on Jacob Haish specifically, the lengthiest section of all the barbed wire inventors. It's truly worth the read. I enjoy her title for the Haish section: "The Nearly Forgotten Man."

- - -

"Jacob Haish was born in Germany. When he was nine years old, he and his family sailed for America; the year was 1836. His mother died soon after reaching this country, and the father took his young family to Ohio where he farmed and did carpentry work on the side. Jacob, as with so many pioneers, worked hard and received a meager education. In 1846, he left his father's home and settled in DuPage County; there he married Miss Sophie Brown in 1847. One year after that they moved to Pierce Township, DeKalb County, where he farmed for three years.

When the young couple moved to the village of DeKalb, Haish worked at his carpentry trade. With the first one hundred dollars he saved, he purchased lumber and started his successful building and lumber business.

Haish was annoyed with the farmers who purchased boards from him for the purpose of fencing and then complained to him because the lumber was not strong enough to hold out against brute force. It was this problem which led him to experiment with a stronger fence, and thinking of the effectiveness of the osage-orange tree thorns upon livestock, he conceived the idea of making thorns of wire. He made a fair barb in 1873; and in January, 1874 it was perfected enough to be patented. 

In the Biographical History, a book which gave the biographies of a few of the residents of DeKalb County, it pointed out how Haish next conceived the idea of inventing a machine to make his fence wire. As he was working on this idea, his counsel advised him to enter a caveat to secure his rights, but time ran out before he applied for a patent.

Those were trying days. The childless Mrs. Haish proved herself to be a true and faithful wife, a loving helper, not only in the days of comfort and luxury but also in those days of opposition and competition-- most assuredly a time which would try the temper and disposition of any man or woman.

The Young Friend: Haish had a loyal friend in Charles Salisbury. When Haish first started his business in DeKalb, he hired this bright young man to help him with his affairs. Salisbury took time off to serve in the Civil War (he was made first sergeant upon his enlistment and was honorably discharged three years later as a decorated Lieutenant,) and upon his return from the war he resumed working for Haish. He was a man of many talents that made him indispensable to his employer. 

While the Haish Manufacturing Company was going through its long and fiery litigation, Salisbury's pen and pencil were busy-- supposedly for advertising purposes. But, his cartoons and verse carried barbs of their own. The following is an example:

'Well, perhaps you may be dreaming, perhaps you're in a whirl; But somehow Haish's fence is winning the plaudits of the world.'

The fight between the barb wire manufacturers was very intense. Some of the opponents of Haish tried to have a little fun at his expense, because he was a 'Dutchman.' In reply to this, Salisbury wrote:

'The June bug has gaudy wings, the lightning bug has fame. The 'Dutchman' has no wings at all, but he gets there just the same.'

These rhymes and cartoons by Salisbury created great interest throughout the country, and the Haish barb wire became even more prominent because of them.

Haish Pleads His Case: After the fight was over, Haish published a pamphlet with the title of -- (now get this) -- 'A Reminiscent Chapter from the Unwritten History of Barb Wire Prior to and Immediately Following the Celebrated Decision of Judge Blodgett, December 15, 1880' in which he rather wistfully sets forth an account of how he came to 'realize' the idea of barbed wire. It was a wordy document, so only this part of it shall be quoted here.

'It never occurred to me that the Patent Office might disclose some knowledge of prior use or state of the art. In fact, at this time, I hardly realized the purpose of the Patent Office, or the need of its services; but later on it behooved me to seek knowledge of friends familiar with its workings, and immediately got in line to protect my interests. My ignorance was almost my undoing, and two or three trips to Washington, D.C. became necessary to put me 'en rapport' with its system.'

An Adjustment Made: Haish switched to another form and manner of applying a wire barb to plain wire, in his thoughts wished 'Uncle Joe' Godspeed, and proceeded to manufacture his own type of barb wire. Haish did well in his business. Not only did his factory turn out millions of pounds of barb wire, but he also manufactured woven wire fencing, plain wire, staples, nails, harrows, tubular steel, barrel carts, bobsleds, etc. He employed hundreds of men at good wages, and he even built a series of group houses, or more appropriately, they were apartment houses (one was called the 'Beehive House.') By this means, he could furnish his employees with an opportunity to rent housing at a moderate fee. Many of these structures, now modernized, are standing today-- an example of such can be seen on North Fourth Street.

Haish's Dream House: Haish designed his own large very ornate house. It was located on Pine Street, diagonally across the street from the First Lutheran Church. It was torn down in the 1960s. The house was vaguely reminiscent of the architecture found in the more humble homes in Germany. The revealed timbers on the upper story, with the cement-like product applied between the wooden beams, and a few round projectures imitated the turrets found on the ancient stone castles occasionally seen in that country. It was a complex house, once called an 'architect's nightmare.' But, it suited Mr. and Mrs. Haish.

Alice Darnell Weeden recalls attending a party at the Haish residence. It was a party given by Verna Haish, a niece from out of town who had been offered the use of her great uncle's home for the event. Alice Darnell was fresh from a little country grade school, along with Miss Haish, Clara Hubbard and other girls at the party who had won scholarships to the State Normal School. They were first-year students and, since Alice was only fourteen, she didn't observe much of the details of this interesting home as she would have had she been a few years older.

To Alice the home was awe-inspiring, the grounds neat and attractive, and especially memorable were the white lion statues guarding the driveway gate. Verna enthusiastically took her young guests on a tour of the house. There was the circular staircase intricately carved from some kind of dark wood and four large, elegantly furnished bedrooms. They especially intrigued the young girls, because the walls in each room were painted with a pastel mural -- each one of a different country in Europe. There was the Switzerland room, Alice's favorite, and the other three rooms were dedicated to views from England, Germany and either Sweden or Norway.

The built-in bookcases were plentiful, each shelf completely filled with the most interesting looking books. Here and there throughout the house were oil paintings and a small statuary, but the girls naturally remembered the dining room best for the delicious refreshments were served there upon the finest china. Of course, the crystal and silverware were elegant also. Mr. and Mrs. Haish, quiet, gracious people, seemed to enjoy the young ladies' presence very much.

The Quiet Couple: Haish became a wealthy man, owning land in six different states; in the township of DeKalb alone, he owned about twelve farms. In the city of DeKalb proper, he owned 130 houses. Besides his manufacturing business, he started the Barb City Bank in DeKalb, of which he was president. In spite of all this monetary success, the Haish family remained just as humble as the day they moved from the farm into the village of DeKalb. He always admired the formal education he was deprived of, and was helpful to young students. Among other acts of generosity, he gave money to the new Normal School when it opened in DeKalb and willed to the city the beautiful and well-stocked library located on Oak Street.

Haish, who surely had a fine selection of horses and carriages to choose from, was, nevertheless, known to stroll by the Glidden residence and if children happened to be playing in the yard, he would pause and pleasantly visit with them for a time. Mr. and Mrs. Haish were a gentle couple, unselfish and kind, but not particularly concerned with the social whirl."

For more information on Bingham, please see this column by Barry Schrader.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Rattler envelope

This Haish Company envelope was shared with us by Kevin Haish, who found this item on eBay. 

The envelope was mailed from DeKalb, IL to Chicago, IL in 1888. The design features Haish's "The Rattler," his wire fence stretcher invention, as well as his trademark rooster, which works as a return label reading "If I don't catch him in ten days return me to J. Haish & Co., 'S' Barb Steel Fence Wire, DeKalb, Ill."

Haish company envelope | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Haish company envelope | Photo by Jessi LaRue