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.

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