Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Looking forward to 2018

I wrote a similar post on this blog last year, but it needed to be said again:
I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read this blog, leave a comment, or share a document with me.

While 2016 was the year of growing this project, 2017 was the year I was growing...myself. I had incredible opportunities this year because of this blog and because of the people in this community. Those opportunities included:

Participating in a talk at the Ellwood House

Unveiling the Jacob Haish historical marker

Leading a presentation on Jacob Haish at the Glidden Homestead

Speaking on the radio about Jacob Haish

Just a few years ago, I never would have imagined having the guts to do these things, let alone the opportunity. I am so grateful to everyone who has given me the chance to try new things and share the stories I've dug up. I'm also excited to say that I'll be out there again next year; I'll be giving a presentation on the Haish mansion in September 2018 at one of my favorite places -- the Glidden Homestead.

Some of these stories may just be old articles, or things you've heard before, but I am so excited to share each and every one with you. I keep hoping that this project will only help to spread the name and sometimes forgotten fame of Jacob Haish, a fantastic inventor and my fourth great uncle.

As always, I encourage you to please contact me at JHaish09@gmail.com if you'd like to get together or share information regarding the life and legacy of Jacob Haish. I've been at this for just over a year and a half, and while I feel like I've learned SO much, I know that I've probably only discovered 10 percent. I'm excited to see what's still out there. This project is easily one of my biggest joys in my life.

To anyone who is reading this, thank you for your support, assistance, and encouragement during 2017. I could not do any of this without you. I look forward to learning alongside you all in 2018.


Jessi (Haish) LaRue

Monday, December 18, 2017

Western Stock Journal and Farmer IX:100 5/79 Interview with J. Haish

Western Stock Journal and Farmer IX:100 5/79
Interview with J. Haish
Provided by Northern Illinois University Archives & Regional History Center:

Desiring to obtain the fullest information on the barbed wire controversy one of our editors took a trip to DeKalb, Ill., to interview Jacob Haish, one of the parties against whom the original suits were brought, and the man to whom the honor is due of preventing the consumation of the monopoly.

Editor: Mr. Haish, I have called to ask you some questions on the barbed wire question, if you have no objections.

Haish: No objection to answering anything I may know.

Editor: Now, please state, Mr. Haish, why the Ohio Barbed Fence Co. and others compromised with Washburn & Moen, if, as you say, there is nothing in this so-called "Brood-claim," and that it can never be sustained by the courts.

Haish: It is this way. The Ohio Barb Fence Co. and the others were not so much alarmed at the suits as at the prospect of there being so many manufacturing establishments that the price of wire would be reduced to living rates. The President of the Ohio Company told me that the only way to save ourselves was to make a combination with Washburn, Moen, & Co., and allow them to take a decree against us. The decree of the courts would scare the dealers and farmers, and we could have everything our own way.

Editor: Did Washburn, Moen & Co. ever propose to you a definite plan of compromise?

Haish: Yes. I have here their terms of settlement.

Editor: If you have no objections I will take a copy. 

Haish: I have no objections. Of course you understand this is simply the substance of the terms of compromise.

1st. Haish should pay a portion of the expenses of litigation.
2nd. He should sign over all his patents and pay a royalty of 1 3/8 cents per pound on all he should manufacture.
3rd. He should be limited to 2,500 tons per year.
4th. He must buy all his wire of Washburn, Moen & Co.
5th. Washburn, Moen & Co. should fix the price of all barbed wire sold.
6th. He must allow a decree of the court to be taken against him by Washburn, Moen & Co. 

Do you think this is the same basis as that accepted by H.P. Scott & Co., Joliet, Ill., the Ohio Barb Fence Co., Cleveland, Ohio, and the Thorn Wire Hedge Co., of Chicago?

Haish: It is undoubtedly the same, with one exception; they bound Washburn, Moen & Co. to sue every manufacturer of wire who did not enter into the combination.

If the above be facts, and we have no reason to doubt them, the combination plan of settlement contains several points detrimental to the public interest.

1st. If they had driven all the manufacturers of barbed wire into the combination, it would have given Washburn, Moen & Co. the monopoly on smooth wire.
2nd. Limited the amount manufactured by each party is in the sole interest of monopoly and high prices.
3rd. This idea is squarely presented in the article which allows Washburn, Moen & Co. to fix the prices of barbed wire.

As a fight between manufacturers, the people of Iowa have no interest in the issue, but when it involves the question monopoly on such a vast interest as barbed wire, every citizen of Iowa is intensely interested. If the citizen thinks that this question will be settled by a few newspaper articles, he is mistaken; there is too much money involved, and the monopolists will never surrender till after the persistent fight. We have seen the opinions of two of the best patent attorneys in the United States on the validity of the Hunt patent, and in their judgment there is no question of the invalidity. But must the people wait and travel through the slow process of litigation, appeals, demurrers, etc.? Congress should enact a law immediately, covering two points--1st, prohibiting the issue of broad-gauge patents, 2nd, protecting the innocent purchaser. Our imbecile Congress can do an immense amount of hard work to gain strategic positions for the next political campaign, but when a little healthy legislation is asked in the interests of the people from the extortions of patent rights, these broadcloth representatives of the farmers are constitutionally tired. Farmers, there is one way to reach this thing. Send men to Congress whose interests are identified with the producer. The man that won't get right out and work for his rights, and fight for them, too, will be a slave. After the producer has refused to help himself, let there be no sickly howl about oppression.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Death of Jacob Haish

"The Death of Jacob Haish," below, was written by local historian Stephen Bigolin and appeared in his writings "This Was Jacob Haish."

By Stephen Bigolin

In the spring of 1916, after being in the Barbed Wire business some 43 years, having reached the age of 90, Jacob Haish decided it was finally time to retire. He sold his beloved Barbed Wire Factory to P.A. Nehring, for $35,000. For the remaining decade of his life, Mr. Haish's only business connection was with the Jacob Haish State Bank, which he was the active President of. He would come to the bank each day, sit in his rocking chair in the lobby, twirl his gold headed cane, conduct his business affairs, and occasionally reminisce about the early days of Barbed Wire.

On September 9, 1918, Mrs. Haish, who for twenty years had been practically confined to a wheelchair because of ill health, died at age 90. Although the loss of his helpmate of 71 years created a void in his heart, Jacob Haish's love of life proved strong enough to endure the hardship, as he came to rely more and more for care on his housekeeper, Anna Anderson. Mr. Haish's last goal in life became to see his 100th birthday.

On March 8, 1920, the day before his 94th birthday, Mr. Haish drew up his Last Will & Testament. Whether this was but one of a series of Wills he wrote is not clear, although several changes were made in this Will by the time Mr. Haish died in 1926. The changes appear to have resulted from the fact that all the people to whom Mr. Haish wanted to leave some small portion of his estimated $5,000,000 estate, were going to the grave before him! In the final form, the Will provided for practically everything to be left to charity. One provision remained unchanged from the Will of March 8, 1920; that being that no relative of Mr. Haish's got even one cent of his estate. Upon his death, Mr. Haish intended for his mansion to be left to Anna Anderson; with enough money for her to always live comfortably in it.
A copy of the DeKalb Daily Chronicle boasts the headline "Jacob Haish Dead." | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Late in 1925, Mr. Haish fell victim to pneumonia. His constitution fought it to the best of its ability, with the goal of reaching 100 years of age guiding the struggle. In the early weeks of 1926 he rallied from the bout, but was totally blind, and afraid of being poisoned, so as to be robbed of that last great objective. He knew the soft touch of Anna Anderson's hands, however, and would only take food from her, according to Beatrice Gurler. On the afternoon of February 19, 1926, just 19 days before his 100th birthday, Jacob Haish died at his palatial residence. His death made headlines in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle for several days. His funeral was held in his mansion, which was opened to the public. In his Will, Mr. Haish left money for construction of a monument in Fairview Cemetery over the spot where he & his wife rested.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Opera House Burns

Printed in the Jan. 13, 1906, edition of the DeKalb Daily Chronicle:

Haish Opera House Block At DeKalb Is Totally Destroyed With Contents
Fire Starts At Two O'clock Wednesday Morning from Unknown Causes. Eight Business Concerns and a Number of Roomers Lose All. Loss of Jacob Haish on Building, $25,000 and No Insurance.

It has been 30 some years, when a quarter of the north side of Main street was burned, since DeKalb has suffered from a fire so disastrous as that which occurred at 2 o'clock on Wednesday morning of this week, when the Haish Opera Block, on the corner of Third street, was totally destroyed, together with practically all of its contents.

The flames were first seen in the rear of Gus Kirchner's drug store, which was the second store from the corner, and when discovered the whole rear of the store was ablaze. The firemen arrived promptly, but the fire spread with great rapidity, and the firemen succeeded only in confining the blaze to the block in which it started. They were delayed by lack of water pressure. In an hour or two the rear walls had fallen, the basement was a heap of blackened and water-soaked ruins, and only the front walls and a portion of the south part of the east walls were standing.

This block was occupied by eight different business concerns, and the third or top floor was occupied by a number of roomers.

The loss to Jacob Haish on the building will be almost $30,000, on which there was no insurance. The rental was about $3,000 per annum.

J.A. Watson & Co., dry goods, loss $15,000, about two-thirds covered by insurance.

Gus Kirchner, drugs, loss about $6,000, insurance $2,000.

Tyrrell & Fay, publishers of the DeKalb Review, loss about $6,000, insurance $4,800. H.W. Fay's famous collection of pictures was destroyed, with the exception of two cases, in which was the Lincoln collection, the most valuable portion, but which consisted of only about 10 percent of the whole.

John Dunn, plumber and tinsmith, loss about $2,000, insurance $300. 

Honroe Cusson, notion store, loss about $500, no insurance.

J.S. Cusson, harness, loss about $2,900, insurance $1,900. He also lost two valuable high-bred Beagle bitches with their puppies.

C. Schuyler, dentist, second floor, partially insured. 

John E. Erickson, merchant tailor, second floor, loss about $900, partly insured.

Peck's School of Music, loss on instruments and music.

The roomers on the third floor lost nearly everything.

The Leishman building adjoining, occupied on the first floor by the Barb City grocery store and upstairs by Dr. Leishman, dentist, together with its contents, was damaged by fire and water.

The hook and ladder team ran away during the fire but did no damage. The street cars were blocked, and ran no further west than the scene of the fire all the next day.

Many of the roomers ran into the street in their night clothes and saved nothing but their lives.

One of the greatest losses, and which has aroused the sympathy of his friends, was Mr. Fay's loss of pictures. He had been collecting them for over a quarter of a century, and it is said they had been offered $14,000 for them. They had a national reputation, and were used by high-class eastern magazines to illustrate articles. Hardly a person of importance in statesmanship, literature, science, war or in any other way, living or dead, for half a century, but whose picture was in this collection. Hardly 10 percent of the collection was saved, and in getting these few out Mr. Fay sprained an ankle and Fred McLean had his hands badly burned.

Mr. Haish announces that he will begin immediately the erection of another block, and that it will probably be extended some 40 feet back toward the north, making two additional stores facing on Third street.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Fire Destroys Haish Shop

Jacob Haish | Photo courtesy of Joiner History Room

Printed in the May 20, 1914, edition of the Sycamore True Republican:

Heaviest fire loss in the history of De Kalb
Nothing Remains of Extensive Factory In Which Spreaders Were Made, Located North of Northwestern Railroad, After Fierce Fire This Tuesday Morning

One of the most disastrous fires in the history of DeKalb was the destruction at about 3 o'clock this Tuesday morning of Jacob Haish's manure spreader factory, just north of the Northwestern railroad.

When the flames were discovered they had gained such headway that it was at once seen that the big factory was doomed. But the firemen did their best to subdue the fire as much as possible and save adjoining property. So rapidly did the fire extend and so intense was the heat, that the firemen were forced to abandon a lead of 750 feet of hose which was destroyed.

Nearby buildings were saved except three dwellings across the street north of the factory which were largely burned. 

All of the contents of the big shops, which included some 200 completed manure spreaders, and a great amount of other products and raw materials, were completely destroyed.

The poles and wires of the DeKalb-Sycamore electric line which run along the street for a couple of blocks opposite the factory were destroyed, and no cars were run until late in the forenoon, delaying the Sycamore morning mail, which included the Chicago papers.

Heavy loss fell on the DeKalb County Telephone company whose wires, cable and poles were destroyed for some distance. 

The loss is variously estimated, but is more generally estimated at about $100,000. It is known that Mr. Haish's policy has been for many years to carry no insurance on his many buildings, which include three other factories and about 100 other buildings in DeKalb. He has suffered from several fires in the last few years, among which was the destruction of the three-story business block known as the Beehive block.

The manufacture of manure spreaders was one of the largest and most profitable of the several manufacturing enterprises of the veteran manufacturer, and the machine produced is one of the best made, and there has been a large and sustained demand for it throughout the country.

Mr. Haish is in active charge of all of his large business affairs, although he has passed his 87th birthday. It is expected that the factory will be rebuilt.