Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Haish Stone "Is Splendid One"

Jacob and Sophia Haish's monument can be found in Fairview Cemetery in DeKalb. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The Haish monument is a regular stop for bus tours, locals and historians in the DeKalb area. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The monument for Jacob and Sophia Haish, located in DeKalb's Fairview Cemetery, has been of interest to many locals and historians. The article below, printed in the Daily Chronicle newspaper in 1928, details the construction of the monument.

From the Dec. 11, 1928, edition of the Daily Chronicle:

Memorial for Pioneer DeKalb Manufacturer Has Been Erected at Fairview
"The major portion of the work of the Jacob Haish monument at Fairview cemetery was completed yesterday afternoon when stone cutters in the employ of Robert Trigg & Sons of Rockford the task of of erecting the large granite monument. The memorial will not be fully completed until next spring when landscape engineers will treat the plot of ground around the granite edifice.

Actual work on the monument was started about two weeks ago, after the concrete foundation had been built. The granite arrived several days ago and since then has been erected.

The base, made of Stony Creek granite, is triangular in shape. On this has been placed two other triangular pieces of granite, each piece smaller than the other, forming three steps, representing the three steps in Masonry. On the top piece of granite has been erected three fluted columns, one at each of the three corners of the triangle. On top of the columns has been placed another triangular piece of granite. The columns have the tapestry finished while the four triangular pieces that form the base and the top is polished granite.
The urn is located at the center of the Haish monument. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Urn in Center

In the center of the monument is a solid urn. On the top of the urn will be placed a bronze plate, on which will be written a brief history of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Haish. This plate has not yet been placed on the urn. 

On one side of the top of the monument is the name "Haish," the letters being of raised bronze, the first time that letters of this type have been placed on a granite monument in this city, it is stated.

The symbols of the Masonic order have been used in the design of the monument, which is of a canopy type.

As was stated previously, the base of the monument is composed of three triangular pieces of granite, forming three steps. The bottom piece, which form the first step, weighs 12 tons, it was stated, while the weight of all of the granite in the monument is 30 tons. O.C. Scott of Robert Trigg & Sons has been in charge of the work.
A plate on the urn details the lives of Sophia Haish and Jacob Haish. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The granite, which comes from Connecticut, was shipped to this city and hauled from the railroad track to the cemetery on a trailer. The largest piece, which weighs 12 tons, was placed on a trailer having a weight of 6,800 pounds, and hauled to the cemetery by a large truck. The greater portion of a day was required in removing this piece of granite from the railroad flat car to the truck trailer.

The monument is one of the most beautiful of its type to be erected in a DeKalb cemetery and next spring after the surrounding ground has been landscaped, a number of DeKalb people will no doubt make pilgrimages to the cemetery to view the monument."
Details of the urn at the Haish monument in DeKalb's Fairview Cemetery. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Thanks to the Joiner History Room for sharing this article.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Brother Jacob Haish

A portrait of Jacob Haish, which once hung in the Haish mansion, has been on display at the DeKalb Masonic Lodge since the mansion was demolished in 1961. Haish was a member of the Masons for 59 years, until his death in 1926. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Jacob Haish's portrait can be seen in the DeKalb Masonic Temple, greeting those who pass through the lobby. It has been with the organization since the Haish mansion was awaiting its demolition. In the years since, curious locals, bus tours, and historians have made the visit to the Masonic Lodge on Fairview Drive to get a glimpse of the large portrait.

Local lore, and members of the Masonic Lodge, recall it being saved by members of the lodge shortly before the house's demolition because of Haish's involvement with the fraternity. After all, the organization was such a large part of his life that a Masonic emblem is emblazoned on his monument in Fairview Cemetery. His monument also features three steps up to the urn, and the three steps represent the three steps in Masonry, according to a Dec. 11, 1928, Daily Chronicle article.
A plaque inside the DeKalb Masonic Lodge commemorates the donations Jacob and Sophia Haish made to the organization. It hangs just to the side of Jacob's portrait. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Haish, or "Brother Jacob" as he'd be known by fellow members, was a member of DeKalb Lodge #144 for 59 years, said current secretary Richard Spahn. Their records show he was the first and only Haish to be a member of the DeKalb Lodge, a group of men who meet the fraternity's prerequisites: a male who lives a good moral and social life, and who also believes in a Supreme Being. 

Spahn said during Haish's time, the Lodge was also a great way to "rub elbows" with other members of the growing community. To this day, the organization regularly hosts and participates in charitable projects, including Illinois child identification programs and local fundraisers.
An article from the Feb. 19, 1926 edition of the Daily Chronicle details Haish's donation of the "Bee Hive" building to the Masons. Click the image to enlarge. After Haish's death in 1926, the Chronicle shared articles that celebrated his life and contributions. | Article courtesy of Joiner History Room
"It's a way for men to gather, improve themselves morally," Spahn said. "You meet and make friendships."

The portrait of Haish is a reminder of the organization's earlier days, Spahn said. Local historian Steve Bigolin's book "Landmarks of the Barb City" describes the portrait as it was in the Haish mansion, through the recollections of Haish's neighbor Beatrice Gurler.

"According to Gurler, when one would enter through the front door, a large, lifelike portrait of Mr. Haish stared one in the face. She told me that even she found it necessary now and then to do a double take, so to speak, when Haish opened the door himself, to be sure which was which," Bigolin wrote.
Jacob Haish's portrait once greeted guests at the Haish mansion. It now greets members and visitors of the Masonic Lodge on Fairview Drive in DeKalb. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Although the Lodge has little information on Haish, they do have the dates of which he received his first, second and three degrees in Masonry. Each degree signifies another step, or accomplishment, in masonry. Haish's dates on record are as such:

Initiated: 04/04/1866
Passed: 07/18/1866
Raised: 08/15/1866

As Haish was known for many philanthropic and charitable givings, he also donated to the Masonic Lodge. Newspaper articles state that he donated an entire building for the organization's use. (See newspaper article above.) Once the group outgrew that building, they moved to another on Locust Street before finally settling in their current building on Fairview Drive.
The DeKalb Masonic Temple is currently located on Fairview Drive in DeKalb. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Celebrating the Haish Memorial Library restoration

Dee Coover, executive director of the DeKalb Public Library, speaks during the "Grander Opening" of the Haish Memorial Library on Sept. 10 in DeKalb. The event celebrated the restoration of the historic building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Jacob Haish's monetary donation for a city library in the early 1900s was a big deal at the time, says Dee Coover, executive director of the DeKalb Public Library. 

"The library was dedicated in 1931, it was being built during the Great Depression," Coover said. "It was almost unheard of at the time. That could not have been done without his donation."

Haish had left $150,000 in his will for DeKalb to have a building for a library. Before that, the library had held odd spaces in other locations, such as the second floor of the city hall building. 

With Haish's major donation, a building was erected on Oak Street, and it served the community for decades. In recent years, however, issues came to light, such as the need for an updated HVAC system, and the fact that the building was not handicap-accessible.The community had also outgrown the 19,000 square foot building, so the library built a modern addition to add space.
The exterior wall and entrance to the Haish Memorial Library is seen from the lobby of the DeKalb Public Library on Sept. 10. Hundreds of people attended the dedication ceremony for the buildings. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The former exterior wall of the Haish Memorial Library is now inside of the newly expanded DeKalb Public Library. It was cleaned up as part of the building's restoration efforts. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Instead of razing the Haish Memorial Library building, it was restored and now features a variety of services, including a teen room, computer lab, 3D printers, and the fitting "local history room." The completion of both the Haish building restoration project and the brand new, 65,000 square foot addition were celebrated Sept. 10.

Coover said it was important to keep "the ambience of 1930," after all, the Haish building is featured on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cork flooring was added to the Haish Memorial Library to pay homage to the original flooring in the building in the early 1930s. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The sign denoting the Haish Memorial Library as a historic building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The teen room in the Haish building features, books, TVs and even video game consoles. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Library patrons learn about the three 3D printers that are now housed in the Haish Memorial Library building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Preservation and restoration efforts included installing cork flooring similar to the floor in the original building. The DeKalb Public Library's main lobby, which connects the Haish building and the new addition, shows off the exterior wall of the Haish building, with a large doorway added for entering the Haish building. 

"This wall is just stunning," Coover said while pointing at a wall of the Haish building, which is now part of the library's main entryway. "The entire thing was cleaned up with baking soda, and now it's inside. It's beautiful."
Members of city government and the library, as well as major donors to the expansion project, gather for the ribbon cutting at the entrance of the Haish Memorial Library building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Community members hold up a "Proudly DeKalb" sign during the dedication ceremony for the newly restored Haish Memorial Library building on Sept. 10. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Contractors worked to keep "the ambience of 1930" in the Haish building, said library executive director Dee Coover. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Details of the Haish Memorial Library building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The original desk is still featured in the Haish Memorial Library. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The Haish Memorial Library was the appropriate building to house the local history room, said Steve Bigolin, local historian and library employee. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The local history room features regional books and resources. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
For more information on the history of the library, click here. For more information on the library's new addition, as well as the Haish building restoration project, click here.
The enscription "This building is the gift of Jacob Haish to the City of DeKalb," can still be found in the original entryway of the Haish Memorial Library building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The original entrance to the Haish Memorial Library is now closed off. The art deco building was designed by Chicago architects White and Weber. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Interview With: Jeff Marshall

Jeff Marshall, of DeKalb, poses with some of the Haish engines in his collection. Haish began manufacturing and selling engines in the early 1900s. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Jeff Marshall's love of history and genealogy have made him an important figure in the Haish family tree.

Marshall, of DeKalb, is a Haish family descendant (Jacob Haish is his third great uncle,) the mastermind behind a lengthy Haish family tree, and the creator of the Jacob Haish Mfg. Co. website, where he shares the stories behind his collections.

He credits his family with his interest.

"We had pictures, things that were directly related to [Jacob Haish] because my family members were close to him," Marshall said. "I was always taught to respect him. The stories were that he was always the outsider, something that my family always believed, and they always 'rooted for the underdog.'"
Jeff Marshall has displays of Jacob Haish barbed wire, which he often uses to give presentations on his third great uncle. Marshall regularly gives presentations at the Glidden Homestead. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Marshall's quest into documenting the Haish family tree began more than 20 years ago, when he was in college. It's been his mission to document "any person related to Christian Haish," the father of Jacob Haish.

"Since I've started this project, I've kind of become a depository for Haish things," Marshall said with a laugh. "Once I meet with one member of the family, then I have other members of the family contacting me. It's been challenging, and I like a challenge. One generation has a generation of kids, then there's another and another; sometimes I don't know about that until someone contacts me."

But Marshall's interest runs much deeper than just the family tree. He's become an avid collector of Jacob Haish-related items, particularly farming equipment. He said he's not surprised that Haish's inventions and patents stretched beyond barbed wire.
A case in Marshall's home displays some of his Haish memorabilia and artifacts. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
"We were an agricultural community, at a much higher percentage than we are now," Marshall said. "If you're going to be developing ideas you're going to be developing them for things that would be of benefit to you here."

The list of Haish inventions is fairly extensive, and Marshall collects his fair share, including barbed wire canes and even Haish Mfg. Co. corn shellers. Unlike some collectors, Marshall's interest in Haish-related items is purely out of love for his roots. 

"I don't remember not having an interest in Haish things," Marshall said. "I've been interested in collecting Haish things my whole life. The [Haish barbed wire canes] were something I'd never dreamed of affording when I was a kid."
Marshall is very fond of his Haish barbed wire canes, a rather unique Haish item. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Marshall also loves stories about his distant relative. 

"I was always told stories as a kid, that he always did things he didn't have to," Marshall said. "Like at Christmastime, he would go to his employees and give each one of them a turkey. These are things that I think he was being smart enough to know he needed to go above and beyond and keep his employees and keep good employees. 

He cosigned on several documents that are from branches of my family that aren't Haish-related. Both sides of my family have always had good things to say about him because he had helped both sides.

I think he was a down-to-earth person, a lot of books and places don't seem to imply that he was down to earth, more like he was rough. But my family stories don't describe him that way. He seemed to be much more personable. I get the impression that he was somebody who expected you to do well, too. He was going to give you an opportunity expecting you to do something with the gift he gave you, and be appreciative of what you got." 
Haish advertising material belonging to Marshall. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Marshall considers the possibility of one day bringing together the descendants of Jacob Haish's father, Christian Haish in a big family reunion.

"To print out the family tree, with just basic information like first and last names, it would be more than 66 feet long," Marshall said. "But it can be done."

To learn more about Marshall and his interest in Jacob Haish, please visit his website at He is also scheduled to give a presentation on Haish on Sept. 25 at the Glidden Homestead, 921 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb.