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.

1 comment: