Friday, July 29, 2016

"Pleasantest Gatherings of the Half Century Club"

The Haish Mansion in DeKalb | Photo courtesy of Steve Bigolin
This article below, provided by the Joiner History Room, is notated as a page one story from the May 5, 1906, edition of the DeKalb Evening Chronicle:
"The Half Century Club and a half dozen neighbors were entertained at the home of Mrs. Jacob Haish yesterday afternoon in a most pleasing manner. 

There seemed a happiness and jollity to pervade the company a little out of the usual order. While piecing blocks for quilts the ladies sang old time songs and there were a number of fine singers present, who enjoyed this part of the program.

An elaborate luncheon was served of substantial viands and delicacies of the season.

Mrs. I.L. Ellwood, who has been spending the winter in her Florida home was present and surprised the club by presenting them with orange colored majolica pitchers. On one side were the inscription, "From Florida" and on the other side were raised orange blossoms for decorations, and almost natural enough to imagine the odor was in them.

Mr. Haish presented each of the ladies with a spool of thread, which was excavated from the Opera House ruins.

Yesterday will long be remembered as one of the very pleasantest gatherings of the Half Century Club."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Find of the Week: Sophia's Cane

Ron Klein has always had an interest in local history. Klein grew up among members of the Haish family that lived in Hinckley; Klein's great aunt, Mary (Maynie) Klein, married Jacob Haish's nephew, William R. Haish, who was a trustee of Jacob Haish's estate.

Jacob Haish had also loaned money to Klein's great grandfather so he could purchase a Hinckley farm. That farm has been in Klein's family since 1875.
"I've always been interested in our connection to Jacob Haish," Klein said.

Klein, of DeKalb, is an avid book collector with more than 3,500 books in his collection, but he's also the owner of one rare piece of local history: the cane that belonged to Jacob Haish's wife Sophia. The cane came from a cousin of Klein.
Ron Klein, of DeKalb, holds a cane that belonged to Sophia Haish. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
A replica of Sophia Haish's wedding ring is at the base of the cane's handle. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Klein said some of the cane has had to be refurbished, and a recreation of Sophia's wedding ring has been added under the handle of the cane.

"Local history has been an interest of mine for all of my life," Klein said. "But Jacob's story is very interesting."
Ron Klein, former chairman of the Kishwaukee Community Hospital board of directors, is pictured in a 1980 newspaper receiving a check from Haish Board President C. Edward Raymond. The money, from Haish's estate, was given to the hospital's surgery unit and at the time was believed to be the largest check presented in the county, according to the July 1980 edition of the Kishwaukee Kommunicator.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Jacob Haish postcards

Jacob Haish surely left his mark on DeKalb, and although many of his contributions and buildings may no longer stand, postcards from the area preserve the image and history.

These images of vintage postcards are used with permission from Susan White Pieroth and larger versions, as well as more DeKalb cards, can be seen on her page here:

Interior view of Haish Auditorium in DeKalb | Postcard courtesy of Susan White Pieroth
First Evangelical Lutheran Church postcard shows Haish mansion and fountain. | Postcard courtesy of Susan White Pieroth
Haish Memorial Library in DeKalb | Postcard courtesy of Susan White Pieroth
Haish School in DeKalb | Postcard courtesy of Susan White Pieroth
Jacob Haish Company postcard shows Haish's DeKalb factories | Postcard courtesy of Susan White Pieroth
Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Haish along with the Haish mansion | Postcard courtesy of Susan White Pieroth
For larger versions of these and many more DeKalb and Sycamore postcards, visit Pieroth's site here.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Haish mansion fountain

Pieces of Jacob Haish's life can be found scattered throughout the county...even in a DeKalb warehouse.

Jim Hovis, of DeKalb, is a collector of various historical and unique items, and he is the owner of this fountain, now deconstructed, which he says was once on the property of Jacob Haish's mansion.
Jim Hovis, of DeKalb, sits on a piece of a fountain that was owned by Jacob Haish. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Hovis purchased the fountain from the auction of a home that once sat at 315 N. Third St. in DeKalb. Hovis said he was unsure of how the fountain came to the Third Street home, other than its proximity to Haish's former mansion. The auction was for the house and its contents, which Hovis purchased.
Hovis said he put a lot of money into the Third Street home to try to restore it, only to find out it could not be saved. Hovis then sold the house so the property could be used for the expansion of the library: the DeKalb Public Library, or as some know it, the Haish Memorial Library. 
Jacob Haish's fountain features barbed wire. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The fountain's pieces currently sit in a DeKalb warehouse, but Hovis said he is interested in donating it to the library to be a part of its previous owner's legacy. 

The picture below shows the fountain in use at Jacob Haish's home. The image is part of a postcard that featured the First Evangelical Lutheran Church.  
Postcard image shows the fountain in use at the Haish mansion. Image used with permission from Susan White Pieroth. Larger versions, as well as more DeKalb postcards, can be seen on her page

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Jacob Haish's will

A sign on the "Haish floor" of Barb City Manor, 680 Haish Blvd., DeKalb. Haish's will left funds for Haish Memorial Hospital, which today is the Barb City Manor retirement community. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Jacob Haish's will seems telling of his character. The document emphasizes the projects he wanted to contribute to throughout DeKalb, while his entire family is mentioned in one brief paragraph, the eighth section.

In one document Haish expressed his desire for his money to go toward a public library, a hospital (now known as Barb City Manor,) and much more. I find that the document is an interesting read. Check out the document below; it's best viewed on a larger screen.

Thanks to Steve Bigolin for sharing.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Searching for Jacob and Sophia's son

Did history forget Franklin Haish? | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Jacob Haish's will is usually simplified down to "he didn't have any kids, that's why he donated all of his money to the city."

But...he did have a child.

I discovered Franklin Haish while I was requesting Jacob Haish files from the Joiner History Room in Sycamore. Innocently enough, tucked in between old newspaper clippings, was census information for Haish's Pine Street home. It showed Jacob, Sophia, servants, and Franklin Haish.

Franklin Haish was Jacob and Sophia's adopted son. I'm not sure where he came from, why he was adopted, or why Jacob and Sophia never had biological children of their own.

I've never even seen a photo of Franklin Haish, but here's what I do know:

Franklin appears on the 1860 census as an 11 year old living in the Haish mansion, which means he was born in 1849. It states he was born in Illinois.

He appears on the 1870 census as a 21 year old who works in a cheese factory. 

After that, articles about the 23 year old Franklin appear in the Sycamore True Republican newspaper. 

The articles state that Franklin was taken sick, and:
"in a short time seemed to lose all reason, in which condition he has been most of the time since, and at times unmanageable, necessitating tying his arms ... to prevent personal injury to his friends. Frank has lived with Mr. Haish since he was two years of age, and greatly beloved by the family who have done everything possible to restore his health. He was a young man of ordinary intelligence, upright in character and industrious disposition. As nothing in his physical condition indicates anything wrong, it is believed that his insanity is hereditary."
The article mentions that he had previously showed remorse for striking his father in the days before. However, he was taken to Sycamore for "examination by the proper authorities."

Within a month another article states:
"A letter from the superintendent of the insane hospital at Jacksonville, to Jacob Haish says: 'Frank has been doing well since he came, not showing any violence or excitement, and his mind and health have improved. He is very quiet, conversing very little with the other patients. His mind is still a little confused. Apparently he is as contented as one can be in his condition, and it is hoped will continue to do well."
From these articles, it can be deduced that Franklin was taken to the Jacksonville State Hospital, a sanatorium in Morgan County, Ill., at the time. However, I haven't been able to find anything that states what happened to him during or after his stay. It's as if he just disappears from history. I'm currently seeking birth and death records in his name.

I'll be doing research to learn more about Franklin, but if anyone has information, I'd really appreciate the help. Please reach out to me, Jessi Haish-LaRue, by email at, or contact me at this website's Facebook page here.