Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Barb City Bank takes shape

This article was printed in the Dec. 9, 1885, edition of the Sycamore True Republican, and was provided by the Joiner History Room:

That $100,000 project has taken definite shape, and the curious as well as the interested public can have an opportunity, on Thanksgiving day, between the hours of 8 and 10, of inspecting a new bank. It is to be called the "Barb City Bank," with Jacob Haish as President, and Paul Holm as Cashier.

The office furniture and belongings will be of the latest design, and everything pertaining to the outfit will be designed with special care for the comfort and accommodation of its patrons, while giving ample security for the safe keeping and accounting of all funds intrusted to its protection. Not only is the vault fire proof, but within its walls will dwell a burglar and fire proof safe of the very latest pattern, provided with a time lock and all the modern improvements that skilled labor can invent to make it absolutely secure.

The vault will also be provided with a set of fire proof, securely locked, drawers, where persons desirous of depositing valuable papers, silverware, etc., can do so, having entire control of their own key. They can at any time inspect or change or look over their contents in the private room of the bank without being disturbed. To parties leaving home for a season this feature of the bank will supply a growing need. Arrangements are made for furnishing Chicago, New York and foreign exchange, and the utmost attention will be given to needs of the people. Mr. Haish desires it understood that the most gentlemanly of treatment and courtesy will be accorded all. An exchange, loan and discount business will be done on the most liberal terms.

The bank will occupy the room of the "S" barb wire office, the latter moving to rooms overhead on the second floor.

 - - -

See photos of the Barb City Bank by clicking here.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Jacob Haish sites (DeKalb and beyond)

Below is a list of Jacob Haish sites in DeKalb and beyond, taken from a presentation I gave at Glidden Homestead in Sept. 2019. These are just a few examples of Jacob Haish history that are still present today.

DeKalb Public Library (Haish Memorial Library) and Jacob Haish historical marker
309 Oak St., DeKalb

The Haish Memorial Library, now known as the DeKalb Public Library, was built because of a $150,000 donation from Jacob Haish in his will, when he died in 1926. The library was dedicated in 1931, and the original building still features the Haish name on the outside of the building, as well as a dedication inside. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

In 2017 a historical marker was dedicated to Haish, which was fitting because there is no museum or other location dedicated in his honor. The marker was placed by the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association to tell Haish's story to passerby. The marker's text was written by Haish relative Jeff Marshall, and mentions Haish's "inventive genius" and "eccentric personality." It also notes Haish's contributions to farming equipment creations, Northern Illinois University, and other DeKalb buildings.

Former location of Haish mansion
Corner of Third and Pine streets, DeKalb

The Haish mansion was located on the corner of Third and Pine streets in DeKalb, and was three stories tall. Haish, a carpenter, chose to model his home after memories of castles from his homeland of Germany. He left the house to his housekeeper, Anna Anderson, in his will. 

There was no plan for the mansion after her death, however, so the home had to be sold to pay for other projects Haish mentioned in his will. The neighboring First Lutheran Church purchased the home and used it for years as a parsonage and school. However, the house would need costly repairs, which the church couldn't afford. When there were no interested buyers, the church decided to demolish the mansion for a parking lot in 1961, and it still remains that way today.


Carriage house
Next to the parking lot on corner of Third and Pine streets, DeKalb

The neighboring carriage house is the only remaining part of the Haish mansion. Today it is still in use as apartment complexes.

Haish portrait

Founders Memorial Library, 217 Normal Road, DeKalb

Founders Memorial Library on the NIU campus is now home to a Jacob Haish portrait, but it took many years for it to get there. The portrait was originally located in the Haish mansion, and it could be seen when you first opened the front door. The portrait remained there until the house was about to be demolished in 1961. It has been said the members of the local Masonic lodge (which Haish had been a member of) snuck into the home shortly before demolition and took it. It remained in the DeKalb lodge until 2018, when it was placed in the Founders Library, along with images of other NIU/DeKalb founders Joseph Glidden and Isaac Ellwood. It can now be viewed in the library during open hours. It does have a large tear, and NIU is looking for monetary donations to fund the reported $22,000 worth of repairs needed.

Haish Gymnasium

303 S. Ninth St., DeKalb

Haish Elementary School was opened in the 300 block of South 9th Street in DeKalb in 1903. It would be torn down in 1975, but the Haish gymnasium, which was part of the school, still remains. Today it functions as a fitness center and is owned by the DeKalb Park District.

Jacob & Sophia Haish burial monument (Fairview Cemetery)

509 N. First St., DeKalb

Sophia died in 1918, and Jacob died in 1926, just 18 days short of his 100th birthday. Sophia and Jacob were buried in the Fairview Memorial Cemetery on the south side of DeKalb. Jacob had the design of his monument copyrighted, which you can see on the monument itself. The monument features an urn design with an inscription, which describes Jacob’s life as distinguished for his contributions to the barbed wire industry, and “the history of wire fencing would be incomplete without the record of his achievements in that field.”

The burial monument is in the very back of the cemetery, as Jacob was under the impression that the new cemetery would be built from that direction, and that his monument would be featured at the front. That was changed later, and his monument is now located in the rear of the cemetery lot, near the pet cemetery. 

Furniture from Haish Mansion (Ellwood House Visitors' Center)

509 N. First Street, DeKalb 

The Ellwood House Visitors’ Center is home to a display of furniture that once resided in the Haish mansion. Many of the items from the mansion were purchased in an auction after Jacob’s death. Paul Nehring purchased quite a bit of the furniture, and his wife Shirley Hamilton Nehring, used it in their home, which is on the museum grounds. After that home was donated to the museum in 2011, the furniture was sold to the Ellwood House so that it could be on display. These items can be viewed during the Visitors Center hours.

Statues from the Haish mansion (Red Barn Golf Course)

12379 Wagon Wheel Road, Rockton, IL

Antique collector Walter Williamson owned the Wagon Wheel Resort in Rockton. He purchased scavenger's rights to the Haish mansion before its demolition in 1961, and filled multiple trucks with decor and fixtures from the house. These two statues are now on display at the golf course in Rockton. They once stood proudly outside of the Haish mansion door.


Chandeliers and woodwork from the Haish mansion (China Palace Restaurant)

625 S. Blackhawk Boulevard, Rockton, IL

More Walter Wiliamson items are on display at the China Palace Restaurant, including woodwork and chandeliers. All of these items must be worth well more than the $1,200 Williamson spent for his scavenger's rights.

Looking for more information on Jacob Haish sites?
DeKalb County History Center/Joiner History Room
NIU Regional History Center
DeKalb Public Library
Historian Steve Bigolin

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Event: Photo tour of Haish sites

Portrait of Jacob Haish | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Take a tour of Jacob Haish sites and landmarks and never leave your seat. 

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 8 at the Glidden Homestead, Jessi Haish LaRue will give a virtual tour on inventor, manufacturer, and DeKalb benefactor Jacob Haish. She will show some landmarks in DeKalb and beyond that tell Haish’s life story and show his philanthropy. 

LaRue, a Haish family descendant, is a writer who blogs regularly about Jacob Haish at JacobHaishStory.com. The blog shares photos, interviews and news articles which relate to Haish's life. LaRue has been documenting her 4th great uncle's story since early 2016 in an attempt to spread the story of the "underdog of barbed wire." 

“Jessi has spent great effort and care finding, visiting, and documenting Haish sites,” says Rob Glover, executive director of Glidden Homestead. “Her ‘virtual tour’ will help you see these sites more completely and leave you wanting to see them in person.” 

Haish is renowned for his “S barb” patented in 1875. Jacob Haish was born March 9, 1827, in Germany and came to America in 1835 when he was nine years old. In his youth, he learned the carpentry trade from his father and “possessed natural mechanical ingenuity and displayed ready aptitude in the use of tools.” At 19, he moved to Illinois and then to DeKalb in 1853 where he entered the lumber business. He built many of the city’s most notable buildings, past and present, including the Glidden Homestead.
His first barbed wire patent is dated January 20, 1874. His “S barb” was patented August 31, 1875. He followed these with many later designs for wire and other innovative devices. 

Also on Sunday, noon-4, you can tour the home where Joseph Glidden and his family lived when he created his most famous invention, see a working onsite blacksmith shop, and walk where Glidden walked. Joseph Glidden developed barbed wire in DeKalb in 1873 and went on to patent numerous other inventions. Glidden’s brick barn, where an archaeological excavation has taking place, can be considered the monument for the invention of barbed wire, a symbol of innovation in the Midwest, the workshop of an iconic inventor. Programs at Glidden Homestead are made possible in part by the Mary E. Stevens Concert and Lecture Fund.

A full season of programs highlighting “Center of It All” continues at the Glidden Homestead in 2019. A program listing can be found at http://www.gliddenhomestead .org/events.html. The Glidden Homestead, located at 921 W Lincoln Hwy, is open Tuesdays 10-2 or by special arrangement. Admission is $4 per adult and free for children younger than 14. For more information, visit www.gliddenhomestead.org or e-mail info@gliddenhomestead.org or call (815) 756-7904.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Haish Manual Training School - Denver

"Haish Manuel Training School - University of Denver." I purchased this photograph from eBay. The largest sign reads "HAISH MANUAL TRAINING SCHOOL." The sign above the door reads "UNIVERSITY OF DENVER." Another sign reads "UNIVERSITY BUSINESS COLLEGE." | Courtesy of Jessi Haish LaRue

The Haish Manual Training School was built in Denver, Colorado, after a monetary donation from Jacob Haish.

According to this article, "the main building for the manual school was built at a cost of $25,000, the gift of Mr. Jacob Haish of De Kalb, Illinois ... Mr. Haish attended the commencement at Denver University last spring and was so well pleased with the school that he told Bishop Warren that he would give the university $15,000 for the medical department if that would be sufficient to build upon the vacant ground adjoining the manual training school ... It is built of brick and is three stories high with a basement. This makes a total gift of $40,000 by Mr. Haish to the university."

I reached out to the Special Collections and Archives department of the University of Denver to learn more, and they generously provided the below information and photographs of the building:

The school, which was located at the intersection of 14th Street and Arapahoe Street in downtown Denver, was only open from 1885-1892, and it was a high school for the first couple of years, they said. The building itself was later demolished in 1963.

As I've researched, there have been varying dates and purposes for the building. According to the Archives department's website, the school was located at 1025 14th Street in Denver, and the cornerstone was laid on July 13, 1887. 

"Building served multiple functions for the University of Denver, including residence of the Haish Manual Training School, University Business College, Dental College Infirmary, and Denver College of Pharmacy," according to the website.

The below photos, provided by the researchers at the University of Denver, are believed to be from a time after it was the "Haish Manual Training School." 
Students at the Haish Manual Training School building sit in windows and wave at the photographer. | Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, University of Denver
Haish Manual Training School building in Denver. | Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, University of Denver
Another great image of this building can be seen by clicking here.

But why Denver? Local historian Steve Bigolin believes Haish either sold a lot of his wire in Colorado, or that he wanted to expand his business prosperity to the West.

The Archives department also provided "a class listing likely from the late 1880s or early 1890s." The PDF can be viewed below.

Thank you so much to the University of Denver's Special Collections and Archives group for providing us with this wonderful information and imagery.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Haish in the DRM newsletter

Jacob Haish (and my recent visit to the Devil's Rope Museum with my father) are mentioned in the latest edition of the museum's newsletter. Below are a few pages from the newsletter:

Click the images to enlarge.

For more information on the Devil's Rope Museum, or to become a member and receive this newsletter, click here. Thanks again to the DRM for providing us a wonderful visit back in May.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Haish picnic and baseball game

Sycamore True Republican, July 8, 1916
The July 8, 1916, edition of the Sycamore True Republican newspaper printed this small article about a company picnic and baseball game that Jacob Haish organized for his employees. The article states:

"Some 200 people attended a picnic given near Brush Point on Sunday by Jacob Haish to his employees and their families. Several autobuses and many automobiles brought the people to the grounds. There were the usual sports and a baseball game between the East and West side shops. The East side team won by a score of 6 to 10. The venerable Mr. Haish was among the picnickers."

Haish would have been 90 years old at the time of this picnic!

Article accessed here.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Ballad of Ellwood House

Here's another video from the cassette tape I purchased in Texas last month. This song is "The Ballad of Ellwood House." Words and music by Francis Stroup, and performed by Dave Parker with Paul Nelson.

If you've ever visited the Ellwood House Museum, you need to hear this song, posted below.

To hear "The Barbed Wire National Anthem," click here.

The Barbed Wire National Anthem

While in Texas at the Devil's Rope Museum this year for their annual swap meet and reunion, I purchased a cassette tape that features songs and stories about barbed wire. I'll be sharing the videos on YouTube/this blog. 

This is a fun one: "The Barbed Wire National Anthem," written and performed by Charlie Dalton.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Jacob Haish at the DeKalb County History Center

DeKalb County History Center in Sycamore, IL | Photo by Jessi LaRue
I visited the DeKalb County History Center to view the Crossroads: Change in Rural America exhibit. I was pleasantly surprised to see Jacob Haish represented within the museum, as well.

The barbed wire display included wire samples, a Haish barbed wire cane, and images and background information on Haish, Isaac Ellwood and Joseph Glidden.

Barbed wire display at DCHC | Photo by Jessi LaRue 
Barbed wire display at DCHC | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Displays tell the story of the three men seeing the Henry Rose exhibit in DeKalb, and pondering how to improve Rose's creation of "a thin wooden rail with nails driven into fence wire:" 

"One source relates that Glidden, seeing the fence, said out loud, 'The barbs should be on the wire.' Over the next few months, all three worked to perfect the idea."

The display also details Haish's other contributions to the agricultural world, including gas engines, fencing tools, and more.

Barbed wire display at DCHC | Photo by Jessi LaRue 
Barbed wire plaque at DCHC | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The exhibit also features other legendary local stories, such as the Sandwich Fair, Pumpkin Festival, the Egyptian Theatre, Kishwaukee College history, and much, much more.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Haish School & Haish Library postcards

I recently visited the Kane County Flea Market and was lucky to stumble across these wonderful Jacob Haish related postcards. (And for a bargain!) They depict the former Haish School, and the Haish Memorial Library (now known as the DeKalb Public Library.) Both sides of the postcards are below.

Haish School postcard

The back of the Haish School postcard

Haish Memorial Library postcard, dated 1981

The back of the Haish Memorial Library postcard

Monday, June 3, 2019

Yard gate from Haish's home

Jacob Haish gate on display at the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum in LaCrosse, KS | Photo by Jessi LaRue

This gate, described as a "yard gate from Jacob Haish's home in DeKalb, Illinois," is on display at the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum

This is the text that is displayed next to the gate:

"Mr. Jacob Haish was born in Colsue, Baden, Germany in 1826 and came to America as a child. Haish had been granted three patents for barbed wire before Joseph Glidden invented the Glidden 'winner.' 

Over the entrance of the Haish home, a placard was placed reading, 'Jacob Haish, Inventor of Barbed Wire.' 

Note the cast iron trim and braces are cast with acorns and the letter 'H' is centered in each corner. In the top center of the gate is a brass plate inscribed with the company name and patent dates. 

In addition to mesh wire patents, Mr. Haish patented eight additional barbed wires and a wire stretcher. The stretcher is on display in the museum.

Presented by Marion and Val Ferrin
Bucklin, Kansas"

Detail of the Haish gate | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Haish, Ellwood, Glidden barbed wire plaque

Barbed wire samples belonging to Kevin Haish
This barbed wire sample plaque has been owned by my dad, Kevin Haish, for almost forty years.

He purchased this plaque from the local Ace Hardware store in 1980 for a school project. The front features wire samples from Joseph Glidden, Jacob Haish and Isaac Ellwood, DeKalb's barbed wire barons. 

The back features text from Howard A. Nelson, who created the plaque:

"Each wire on the plaque is identified by the last name of the inventor and the year he received a patent for that wire. With over 600 patents granted for wire this display is obviously a small representation. It is impossible to tell when any barbed wire was manufactured because it depends on the quality, size and kind of metal used, the treatment given the wire such as paint or galvanizing and lastly where it was used. In areas with high rainfall and humidity, the life of a piece of metal exposed to the weather is relatively short, while in areas with low rainfall and dry atmosphere the life is considerably longer."
The backside of the display

Saturday, May 25, 2019

"The Rattler" wire fence stretcher

Jacob Haish's wire stretcher on display at the Devil's Rope Museum in Texas. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
This wire fence stretcher, called "The Rattler" was patented by Jacob Haish in 1882 and was produced by his manufacturing company. 

Wire stretchers were essential for installing barbed wire, as they ensured that the wire had the proper amount of tension. 

Below is paperwork from the patent for Haish's wire stretcher, which he would market as "The Rattler."
From Google patent. Click to enlarge
Click here to see an advertisement for this wire stretcher, as posted on Jeff Marshall's website.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Haish family takes barbed wire journey

Last week, my father and I traveled to check out some barbed wire sites, and learn more about Jacob Haish, our distant barbed wire baron relative. Two Haishes, one fantastic road trip. 

We first ventured to La Crosse, KS, which bills itself as the "Barbed Wire Capital of the World." It seemed like a fitting title; my first drive through Kansas gave me the opportunity to see miles and miles of barbed wire stretching across the state. It was quite a sight for this Illinois girl.

The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum features displays of wire and fencing tools. It's also home to a research center and houses collections from the Antique Barbed Wire Society.
Jessi Haish LaRue at the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum
From there we traveled to McLean, TX, the home of the Devil's Rope Museum, which is billed as the largest collection of barbed wire and fencing tools in the world.

A member of the museum once invited me to visit the museum during their annual reunion and swap meet. That invite inspired this entire trip. During the show I met many interesting, important people from the barbed wire collecting world. This included people who have authored their own barbed wire identification books!
Kevin Haish at the Devil's Rope Museum in McLean, TX
McLean's museum features thousands of pieces of barbed wire memorabilia, and is also home to a Route 66 museum. I was incredibly moved by the friendliness and generosity of everyone I met during the McLean tour; the museum board presented us with this commemorative piece of art (seen below,) which was created by Delbert Trew, curator of the museum.
"Salute to Haish," created by Delbert Trew, of Texas
He explained the "Salute to Haish" piece as a way to recognize our trip to the museum, as well as all members of Jacob Haish's extended family. The wood base is from an antique wagon wheel from Trew's ranch, which represents the time period in which Haish was creating his wire. The bull represents the cattle that was fenced in with the wire, allowing the United States to expand across the West.

Thank you to both museums for their assistance with my research, and a HUGE thank you to everyone associated with the Devil's Rope Museum for their incredible hospitality and generosity. I can't wait to visit again someday.

- - - 

More posts on our finds within both museums will be coming up soon. I'm officially "hooked" on barbed wire.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

"Honoring DeKalb's Inventors" envelope

This commemorative envelope, distributed by the Land of Lincoln Barbed Wire Collectors Association in 1974, honors "DeKalb's inventors."

Isaac Ellwood, Jacob Haish and Joseph Glidden are portrayed on the envelope to advertise the Barbed Wire Centennial. Although the Land of Lincoln group was later disbanded, many of these commemorative envelopes (in various designs) are still floating around today. I recently posted about a Haish design here.

Thanks to Rob Glover, Glidden Homestead executive director, for sharing this with me.

Detail of the envelope. Ellwood, Haish and Glidden are pictured.

Haish mansion model restoration complete

NIU student Cameron Simpson has been hard at work to restore the model of the Jacob Haish mansion, and now, her work is complete!

After more than 85 hours of work on the model, Simpson shared the news on her blog that she's used to document the project. 

While she made many tweaks to improve the structure of the model, most notably she repaired the chimney, replaced missing window glass, and reattached the gazebo.

Visit Simpson's blog by clicking here, or click here to read my interview with her.

Before and after of the Haish mansion model (FRONT) | Photos by Cameron Simpson 
Before and after of the Haish mansion model (SIDE, featuring gazebo) | Photos by Cameron Simpson

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Haish wire fence and wood gate

Haish wire fence with wood gate, owned by Jeff Marshall. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Haish family descendant Jeff Marshall continues to bring forgotten Jacob Haish history back to life.

This Haish wire fence and wood gate is a unique item, and another piece that shows off Haish's ingenuity while inventing. Thanks to Jeff for sharing this item with us. Visit his website here.

Click to enlarge the photos and see details of the gate, patent papers, drawings and more.