Sunday, March 26, 2017

Haish Says He Is The Oldest

The below article was printed in the June 12, 1915, edition of the Daily Chronicle:

Haish Says He Is The Oldest
Brings Down Documents In Proof of His Statement to Chronicle
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Came to DeKalb in 1853
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Makes the Distinction That He Was the First One Now Living to Settle in the Corporation and Not in Township Outside

Jacob Haish was in this morning to set our minds at rest as to who was the oldest "residenter" of DeKalb still in existence here. Mr. Haish claims the honor for himself and has the documents to prove it.

Jacob Haish photo courtesy of
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University
He says that he is the first settler of the tract at present inside the corporate limits of DeKalb, who is still living. He came here in September of 1853. There were others who lived outside the city limits on farms but if they moved to DeKalb they did it many years later.

To prove his statement Mr. Haish had the deed to his first piece of property he owned in this city, the lot on South First street south of the Northwestern tracks on the east side of the street. 

He bought this, he says, in 1858, but did not have the money to pay for it and was not given his deed until the following year. The deed bears the date of December 1854. 

A couple of years afterward, about 1855, he says a lot of other people came here, Robert Newitt, the Garners, the Rolfes, Bristows, Bradts, Brooks, Sweets and others.

Mr. Haish entertained us for some time this morning telling about the early days. He told how he left home in Pennsylvania in the late forties with prospecting parties to come west and look over the country here. Their destination was Naperville and he spent some months in DuPage County ...

Then he moved on again to Kaneville and then he got on a farm down in the "Rooster" church district. Here he was taken sick and afterwards moved back to Kaneville for a short time where he worked at his trade. One day he decided to come a little farther west and he walked from Kaneville to what is now Maple Park.

Just as he trudged into this village along came a little engine dragging two flat cars and making awfully hard work of it. 

"Where are you going?" queried young Jacob.

"Down to the end of the line," said the engine.

"Can I go to Buena Vista with you?" asked the young pilgrim.

"Sure," said the good natured engineman and Jacob hopped aboard.

When he came to the end of the road, about where Fourth street now is the train had to stop and the young pioneer asked the engineer, "Where's Buena Vista?"

"This is it," said the engineer pointing down the street to where there a couple of little buildings and this was Jacob Haish's advent into DeKalb. Buena Vista, for the benefit of those who don't know, was the old name for this village.

There was little of a village here when Mr. Haish arrived. Dr. Basil had a little shack of a store where Hiland's store now is, and Goodell had a general store where the Chronicle is now located. There was a blacksmith shop where the Glidden house now is and that was about all the business houses there were.

Living on farms near the city at this time were Joseph Glidden, William Plank, Clark Barber and others whose names are enrolled in the list of our early settlers but they were not in the village, which is the honor Mr. Haish contends for.

Along in 1854 a Mr. Nichols started a lumber yard here and shortly afterwards a Mr. Page also started one. After that the growth of the little village was steady and rapid, and in all of its growth the personality of Mr. Haish was always prominent.

The Chronicle would be glad to hear from others of the old timers.
Article provided by the Joiner History Room

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Haish requests features for DeKalb courthouse

In the early 1900s, Jacob Haish and many other DeKalb notables offered ideas and even monetary pledges to bring a new courthouse to DeKalb. Sycamore had been home to the courthouse for years, but the city of DeKalb thought it should host a larger building to fit the growing county's needs.

Below is an image and excerpt that Haish used to "sell" his ideas for a DeKalb courthouse. In the end, Sycamore "won" and a new courthouse opened in 1905 on State Street, where it still stands today.
Click image to enlarge.

New Courthouse To Be Built at DeKalb
Published in the DeKalb Advertiser on Nov. 3, 1903

"A few of the distinguishing features of the Court House, designated for DeKalb, DeKalb County, Illinois, as desired and requested by Mr. Jacob Haish:

The inside of the dome will be arranged to contain the names and busts of the pioneers of the county. The officers and soldiers of the Civil War from the county will have a niche, and engraved emblems or other such suitable memorial as may be suggested by those interested. Receptacles for photographs and relics will have chosen places expressly prepared for them. The emblems adorning the structure will represent the Arts, Sciences, Music, Agriculture, Mechanics and other products of the county.

There will be two main entrances and eight large columns will present their imposing presence at each entrance, together with life size figures of Generals Dustin and Dutton, one at each entrance. Each column will represent a township with its name inscribed thereon, while the sculptured work would be engraved DeKalb and Sycamore thus giving representation to each one of the original eighteen townships.

It is intended to have copies of the above picture at all the polling places as nearly as possible and they can be had at any time at the Barb City Bank if any should fail to secure them before." 

Article and image courtesy of Northern Illinois University Archives & Regional History Center