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.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Haish Company Billhead Receipt

This billhead/letterhead was an Ebay find. The sale listing did not provide much information, but it's interesting to see an order for "The Haish Mfg. Co., Manufacturers of The 'Eli' Steel Barb Fence Wire, Stretchers, Staples and Nails."

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Haish mansion model restoration underway

Cameron Simpson, NIU student, restoring the Jacob Haish mansion model. | Photo provided by Cameron Simpson
I've posted about the model of the Jacob Haish mansion before: It was a project by a former Northern Illinois University student, W. Joseph Zack, and provides a great representation of a beautiful building that no longer exists. Its condition has worsened over the years, so I was ecstatic to find out that a current NIU student has tasked herself with the big project of restoring it. 

I interviewed Cameron Simpson, the mastermind behind this restoration project, and her responses are below. I'm looking forward to seeing the model once this project is complete. 

Simpson is also blogging about the progress of this project, and you can follow her journey here

Jessi: How did you get involved with this project? 
Cameron: When I first arrived at NIU, I contacted the Glidden Homestead about possibly volunteering with them in some capacity. I went to chat with Rob Glover ... It was the week before the Memories of the Jacob Haish Mansion event, and Cindy Ditzler from the Regional History Center was dropping off the Haish model for use in the event while I was there. I’d had some dollhouse-building experience in the past, and the model was in extraordinarily rough shape, so I just asked Cindy and Rob if I might be able to stabilize it. I wasn’t expecting anything to happen, but Cindy said yes and I ran with it. 

Jessi: Why did you decide to take on this project? 
Cameron: I decided to take on the Haish house project for a couple of reasons. I am in the honors program at NIU and one of their requirements is that students take part in co-curricular “experiential learning” which can take a variety of forms. Since the Haish house project is pretty involved, and I’m interested in public history-related careers, I decided it would align well with my experiential learning requirement as well as my own interests. 

Jessi: What are you currently working on? 
Cameron: As of late February and early March, I am replacing some lost window glass along the top of the gazebo, and reattaching one of the porches that has fallen off. The gazebo has had some pretty significant moisture damage over the years, so adding a new, thicker set of windows will hopefully reinforce it significantly so I will not have to completely replace the top of the gazebo. As for the porches, there are two in bad shape. One has had the roof and columns fall off with the base remaining attached, and the other has lost the base and columns while the roof remains in place. I’m working with the latter first, since the weight of the roof piece is actually pulling the wall downward. Due to the way each column broke off the base, I have been able to replace them with a pretty significant degree of precision. I am 90% certain where each column went, and in what orientation. In the next couple of months I will be working with the other porch, the porte-cochere (which is the overhang which stretches between the house and the gazebo), and creating a base for the whole model to sit on within its case. 

Jessi: What has been most difficult about this project? 
Cameron: Despite my experience with dollhouse-making, the most challenging part of this whole process has been that I came in with a base level of knowledge at just about zero. I’m not an artist, and I had a limited understanding of a) the quantity of work that this project would take and b) the techniques and materials I would need to execute the stabilization. I was very fortunate that I was surrounded by people who could answer those questions for me and the Regional History Center was willing to purchase the things I needed, but I’ve had to proceed very slowly and carefully in order to make sure I’m not leaving anything in worse shape than I’ve found it. 
Details of the mansion model | Photo provided by Cameron Simpson
Jessi: What has been most enjoyable? 
Cameron: When I first saw the model, it was just a collection of related pieces more than anything. After 40+ hours working with it, the most exciting part has always been finding out where something actually goes. There have been a few times where a piece has been totally mysterious to me, but the feeling when I finally figure out what it is can’t be beat. For instance, there was a strip of sandpaper floating around my supplies for nearly two months, but while I was trying to figure out how to affix the tower back onto the main structure of the model I realized that the sandpaper filled a gap between the wall of the tower and the main part of the mansion! There was a matching piece on the other side that I hadn’t even recognized until I looked for it. 

Jessi: What is the final goal of the project? 
Cameron: Whereas in a museum you might see paintings or furniture that look flawless, that is not our goal with the Haish model. Our goal is to stabilize the model so it can be displayed in the Founders Gallery within the Founders Memorial Library, not necessarily a full restoration to its 1981 glory. For instance, I will not be repainting any areas where paint has flaked off or discolored. The Regional History Center has decided that my work should tell the visual story of the model as well as the Haish mansion. 

Jessi: What have you learned about Haish along the way? 
Cameron: My primary occupation has been with the physical structure of Haish’s house rather than his biography, but nevertheless in the process of my work I’ve realized how important Haish is to this community. I’ve attended events about Jacob Haish and spoken to people who have an unexpectedly vested interest in my work. 

Jessi: Anything else you'd like to add? 
Cameron: This project has given me all kinds of weird and wonderful experiences. The most pinch-me-I’m-dreaming moment was almost certainly when I went to speak with a conservator at the Art Institute of Chicago. I got the idea in my head that I would call the Art Institute and ask to speak with someone who could answer my questions about how, exactly, I would do this big and scary project. I ended up calling and they put me in contact with the conservator of the Thorne Miniature Rooms, who invited me to come visit her back in October. I got a tour of her studio, as well as the larger conservation studio within the Art Institute. Everyone I met was very helpful and gave me some great procedural and material recommendations.

Details of the mansion model | Photo provided by Cameron Simpson

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Commemorative Haish envelope

This commemorative envelope, distributed by the Land of Lincoln Barbed Wire Collectors Association, celebrates Jacob Haish's barb wire creation.

The front of the envelope illustrates a spool and a single piece of Haish's "thick set 'S' barb." The envelope is postmarked 1975 and details the Land of Lincoln Barbed Wire Collectors Association Convention in September of that year.

The card inside reads:

"Jacob Haish, of DeKalb, Illinois, patented this wire Aug. 31, 1875. This invention consists of this double-pointed wire-fence barb, made from a single piece of wire, bent at its center laterally so that all its parts lie in the same plane in the form of the letter S, forming two loops adapted to clasp both strands of the twisted wire.

This first invention was manufactured and pieces are still found, but good wire of this first S barb is really scarce.

Haish soon made a slight change or improvement that took place in the barb construction. The barb wires were made a little longer so that each of the two ends of the barbs could make another quarter turn or wrap around the two twisted strand-wire, and made the barb more stable on the wire.

Still another change was made in the "S" by adding more and still another quarter wrap or bend was given the barb ends. There are at least four or five variations in this wire.

The Kishwaukee Valley Stamp Club of Sycamore & DeKalb area thanks the Barb Wire Collectors Club for their cooperation in producing and in the sale of this special envelope." 

Thanks to Danny Wright (editor of The Devil's Rope Museum's newsletter) for sharing this with me. 

Detail of the envelope
Detail of the envelope
The card provided inside the envelope.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Haish cane finds its way to Haish family

Jacob Haish barbed wire cane
A Jacob Haish barbed wire cane has made its way to Haish family... it's now in possession of members of my immediate family!

Haish manufactured these barbed wire canes as a promotional item, another innovative way he advertised his products. These canes vary in design; the brass tops can vary in shape, and there are 10 different versions of the cane that can be collected. It is unknown how many were made, or how many are still in existence.

There is a wealth of information and photos regarding Haish canes here.

Detail of the Haish cane shows Haish's barbed wire design | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Top of the Haish cane reads: "Compliments of J. Haish, 'S' barb. Steel Fence Wire, DeKalb, Ill" | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Detail of the Haish cane | Photo by Jessi LaRue