Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Helen Bingham writes about Haish

The late Barry Schrader gifted me a plethora of books shortly before he passed this year. I've been slowly working through them all, so when I picked up a plain, red-cover book titled "My Scrap Book of Collections and Recollections," I wasn't sure what to expect. I found that this book, written and published by the late DeKalb resident Helen Bingham in 1972, documents her time in the area as well as some local history. She has various sections on early Northern Illinois University, DeKalb corn, and barbed wire. I wanted to share the section on Jacob Haish specifically, the lengthiest section of all the barbed wire inventors. It's truly worth the read. I enjoy her title for the Haish section: "The Nearly Forgotten Man."

- - -

"Jacob Haish was born in Germany. When he was nine years old, he and his family sailed for America; the year was 1836. His mother died soon after reaching this country, and the father took his young family to Ohio where he farmed and did carpentry work on the side. Jacob, as with so many pioneers, worked hard and received a meager education. In 1846, he left his father's home and settled in DuPage County; there he married Miss Sophie Brown in 1847. One year after that they moved to Pierce Township, DeKalb County, where he farmed for three years.

When the young couple moved to the village of DeKalb, Haish worked at his carpentry trade. With the first one hundred dollars he saved, he purchased lumber and started his successful building and lumber business.

Haish was annoyed with the farmers who purchased boards from him for the purpose of fencing and then complained to him because the lumber was not strong enough to hold out against brute force. It was this problem which led him to experiment with a stronger fence, and thinking of the effectiveness of the osage-orange tree thorns upon livestock, he conceived the idea of making thorns of wire. He made a fair barb in 1873; and in January, 1874 it was perfected enough to be patented. 

In the Biographical History, a book which gave the biographies of a few of the residents of DeKalb County, it pointed out how Haish next conceived the idea of inventing a machine to make his fence wire. As he was working on this idea, his counsel advised him to enter a caveat to secure his rights, but time ran out before he applied for a patent.

Those were trying days. The childless Mrs. Haish proved herself to be a true and faithful wife, a loving helper, not only in the days of comfort and luxury but also in those days of opposition and competition-- most assuredly a time which would try the temper and disposition of any man or woman.

The Young Friend: Haish had a loyal friend in Charles Salisbury. When Haish first started his business in DeKalb, he hired this bright young man to help him with his affairs. Salisbury took time off to serve in the Civil War (he was made first sergeant upon his enlistment and was honorably discharged three years later as a decorated Lieutenant,) and upon his return from the war he resumed working for Haish. He was a man of many talents that made him indispensable to his employer. 

While the Haish Manufacturing Company was going through its long and fiery litigation, Salisbury's pen and pencil were busy-- supposedly for advertising purposes. But, his cartoons and verse carried barbs of their own. The following is an example:

'Well, perhaps you may be dreaming, perhaps you're in a whirl; But somehow Haish's fence is winning the plaudits of the world.'

The fight between the barb wire manufacturers was very intense. Some of the opponents of Haish tried to have a little fun at his expense, because he was a 'Dutchman.' In reply to this, Salisbury wrote:

'The June bug has gaudy wings, the lightning bug has fame. The 'Dutchman' has no wings at all, but he gets there just the same.'

These rhymes and cartoons by Salisbury created great interest throughout the country, and the Haish barb wire became even more prominent because of them.

Haish Pleads His Case: After the fight was over, Haish published a pamphlet with the title of -- (now get this) -- 'A Reminiscent Chapter from the Unwritten History of Barb Wire Prior to and Immediately Following the Celebrated Decision of Judge Blodgett, December 15, 1880' in which he rather wistfully sets forth an account of how he came to 'realize' the idea of barbed wire. It was a wordy document, so only this part of it shall be quoted here.

'It never occurred to me that the Patent Office might disclose some knowledge of prior use or state of the art. In fact, at this time, I hardly realized the purpose of the Patent Office, or the need of its services; but later on it behooved me to seek knowledge of friends familiar with its workings, and immediately got in line to protect my interests. My ignorance was almost my undoing, and two or three trips to Washington, D.C. became necessary to put me 'en rapport' with its system.'

An Adjustment Made: Haish switched to another form and manner of applying a wire barb to plain wire, in his thoughts wished 'Uncle Joe' Godspeed, and proceeded to manufacture his own type of barb wire. Haish did well in his business. Not only did his factory turn out millions of pounds of barb wire, but he also manufactured woven wire fencing, plain wire, staples, nails, harrows, tubular steel, barrel carts, bobsleds, etc. He employed hundreds of men at good wages, and he even built a series of group houses, or more appropriately, they were apartment houses (one was called the 'Beehive House.') By this means, he could furnish his employees with an opportunity to rent housing at a moderate fee. Many of these structures, now modernized, are standing today-- an example of such can be seen on North Fourth Street.

Haish's Dream House: Haish designed his own large very ornate house. It was located on Pine Street, diagonally across the street from the First Lutheran Church. It was torn down in the 1960s. The house was vaguely reminiscent of the architecture found in the more humble homes in Germany. The revealed timbers on the upper story, with the cement-like product applied between the wooden beams, and a few round projectures imitated the turrets found on the ancient stone castles occasionally seen in that country. It was a complex house, once called an 'architect's nightmare.' But, it suited Mr. and Mrs. Haish.

Alice Darnell Weeden recalls attending a party at the Haish residence. It was a party given by Verna Haish, a niece from out of town who had been offered the use of her great uncle's home for the event. Alice Darnell was fresh from a little country grade school, along with Miss Haish, Clara Hubbard and other girls at the party who had won scholarships to the State Normal School. They were first-year students and, since Alice was only fourteen, she didn't observe much of the details of this interesting home as she would have had she been a few years older.

To Alice the home was awe-inspiring, the grounds neat and attractive, and especially memorable were the white lion statues guarding the driveway gate. Verna enthusiastically took her young guests on a tour of the house. There was the circular staircase intricately carved from some kind of dark wood and four large, elegantly furnished bedrooms. They especially intrigued the young girls, because the walls in each room were painted with a pastel mural -- each one of a different country in Europe. There was the Switzerland room, Alice's favorite, and the other three rooms were dedicated to views from England, Germany and either Sweden or Norway.

The built-in bookcases were plentiful, each shelf completely filled with the most interesting looking books. Here and there throughout the house were oil paintings and a small statuary, but the girls naturally remembered the dining room best for the delicious refreshments were served there upon the finest china. Of course, the crystal and silverware were elegant also. Mr. and Mrs. Haish, quiet, gracious people, seemed to enjoy the young ladies' presence very much.

The Quiet Couple: Haish became a wealthy man, owning land in six different states; in the township of DeKalb alone, he owned about twelve farms. In the city of DeKalb proper, he owned 130 houses. Besides his manufacturing business, he started the Barb City Bank in DeKalb, of which he was president. In spite of all this monetary success, the Haish family remained just as humble as the day they moved from the farm into the village of DeKalb. He always admired the formal education he was deprived of, and was helpful to young students. Among other acts of generosity, he gave money to the new Normal School when it opened in DeKalb and willed to the city the beautiful and well-stocked library located on Oak Street.

Haish, who surely had a fine selection of horses and carriages to choose from, was, nevertheless, known to stroll by the Glidden residence and if children happened to be playing in the yard, he would pause and pleasantly visit with them for a time. Mr. and Mrs. Haish were a gentle couple, unselfish and kind, but not particularly concerned with the social whirl."

For more information on Bingham, please see this column by Barry Schrader.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Rattler envelope

This Haish Company envelope was shared with us by Kevin Haish, who found this item on eBay. 

The envelope was mailed from DeKalb, IL to Chicago, IL in 1888. The design features Haish's "The Rattler," his wire fence stretcher invention, as well as his trademark rooster, which works as a return label reading "If I don't catch him in ten days return me to J. Haish & Co., 'S' Barb Steel Fence Wire, DeKalb, Ill."

Haish company envelope | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Haish company envelope | Photo by Jessi LaRue

The Barbed Wire Collector Jacob Haish special edition

The Barbed Wire Collector, published by the Antique Barbed Wire Society, recently published a special edition that focused solely on Jacob Haish's legacy. Various articles explored his barbed wire history, patents, family history and more.

To purchase a copy of this edition, visit this link.

To learn more about the Antique Barbed Wire Society or to become a member, visit this link.








Monday, August 3, 2020

Haish Mfg. Co. Price List document

This original Haish document was shared with us by Danny Wright, who found this piece of advertising on eBay. The document was sent to Dallas in 1895. Thanks for sharing, Danny.


Friday, July 17, 2020

Kishwaukee Hospital recognizes Haish (1987)

Kishwaukee Hospital advertisement in the Daily Chronicle's "Milestone 150" | Photo by Jessi LaRue

In 1978, the Daily Chronicle published a special edition in honor of the 150th anniversary of the founding of DeKalb County. The publication features reminiscing columns, sports and culture highlights, and much more from the county's history. It is also filled with various advertisements from county establishments. The advertisement for Kishwaukee Community Hospital pays homage to Jacob Haish.

It reads:

"Building on a rich heritage...
One of this hospital's major benefactors was born even before DeKalb County was founded. He was the late Jacob Haish, leading industrialist, outstanding philanthropist, and great humanitarian. Though his concerns and benefactions were many, the barbed wire king had a special interest in health care. He left the bulk of his estate for a hospital and health care. Half a million dollars went to construct the Jacob Haish Memorial Wing, predecessor of DeKalb Public Hospital and of KCH. Later, directors of the Jacob Haish Memorial Corporation awarded $200,000 to KCH, a gift memorialized in 1981 with a dedication of the Jacob Haish Surgical Department here.

Jacob Haish was one of the earliest DeKalb County residents to support local health care. Today, we salute the memory of him and all the other generous givers through the years. We honor, too, the many citizens of today who share that concern for better health care, supporting KCH through memorial gifts, the Tree of Life, KCH 100, and other giving opportunities. We appreciate all you have done to make this hospital and its services possible. And we pledge to use your gifts as a steppingstone to build on all that has gone before. We promise, in short, to build on a rich heritage ... to provide better health care for this and all future generations.

Kishwaukee Community Hospital
Route 23 and Bethany Road.
DeKalb, Illinois 60115"

Cover of the Daily Chronicle's "Milestone 150" published in 1978 | Photo by Jessi LaRue

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

1955 auction of Haish's belongings

Furniture auction at Jacob Haish mansion | Photo courtesy of Joiner History Room, DeKalb County Archives

When Jacob Haish died in 1926, he left his palatial mansion to his longtime housekeeper and caregiver Anna Anderson, who resided in the home for years until her death in 1953. However, Haish's will did not state what should happen to the mansion after Anderson passed, so it was determined that the house and contents would be sold in order to fund other projects in his will, including a hospital.

An auction of the contents of the mansion was held May 12, 1955, on the lawn of the mansion, located on the corner of Pine Street and North Third Street in DeKalb. These photos from that day were provided by the Joiner History Room.

The auction announcement, posted in the May 11, 1955, edition of the DeKalb Chronicle reads:

"ANTIQUE FURNITURE AUCTION: The trustees of the Jacob Haish estate will sell at public auction at 405 North Third Street in DeKalb, Illinois, on Thursday, May 12, beginning at 1 p.m. many items of antique furniture consisting of marble top chairs, cherry tables, walnut chairs, birds eye maple bedroom set, walnut settees, walnut desk-bed, walnut clocks, mirror and some antique dishes. Whitman and Whitman, auctioneers."

Furniture auction at Jacob Haish mansion | Photo courtesy of Joiner History Room, DeKalb County Archives

A large number of items were purchased by Paul Nehring that day, and he enjoyed those items for many years with his wife Shirley Hamilton-Nehring, in their home on the Ellwood House museum grounds.

After they donated their private home to the Ellwood House museum in 2011, the museum purchased the Haish furniture so that it could be enjoyed by the public. Click here to see photos of the furniture as it has been displayed in the Ellwood House Museum's Visitors Center.

Furniture auction at Jacob Haish mansion | Photo courtesy of Joiner History Room, DeKalb County Archives

Sunday, May 17, 2020

1917 Farm Implement News Buyer's Guide

The 1917 Farm Implement News Buyer's Guide advertised many products available for purchase from the Jacob Haish Co. in DeKalb. 

The most notable was this advertisement from the book:

1917 Farm Implement News Buyer's Guide via Google books

"CHANTICLEER 
'ALL QUALITY'

Gasoline Engines and Feed Grinders are different --- and better. They were designed and built to meet the exacting farmer's needs and will give long satisfactory service in every respect. Chanticleer's Engines deliver more power on less fuel than any other gasoline engine made. We have a complete line of Chanticleer Engines for every possible use --- from 1 1/2 to 22 h.p. --- and every one of them carries the ironclad "Haish Guarantee." Write for prices.


The Chanticleer Feed Grinder has a larger capacity than most grinders and will produce from 6 to 30 bushels of perfectly ground, evenly mixed feed per hour with from 3 to 6 h.p. It is a splendid all-purpose grinder for ear corn, small grain or mixed grain. Write for prices.


FREE. Our 48-page book shows our complete line of Gasoline Engines, Feed Grinders, Silo Fillers, Wood Saws, Pump Jacks, Washing Machines, Ear Corn Slicers and Barrel Carts. Write for a copy today.


Jacob Haish Co.

37 Haish Avenue, DeKalb, Ill."


In the section titled " General Directory of the Manufacturers," this is what's listed as "goods" available from the Jacob Haish Co.:

"Gasoline engines (stationary, portable and skidded), binder engines, wood saws (steel and wood frame), portable saw outfits equipped with engines, feed grinders, corn and cob grinders, pump jacks, washing machines (belt power and electric), pumping outfits, farm trucks, farm and home lighting plants, barrel carts, milk carts, silo fillers."

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Church's appreciation to Mr. and Mrs. Haish

Written appreciation to Mr. & Mrs. Jacob Haish | Northern Illinois University Archives, Waite W. Embree Collection

"'We are laborers together with God.'
First Corinthians 3:9

On behalf of the members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of DeKalb and of the citizens of this community, we the Official Board of this Church, hereby express to Mr. & Mrs. Jacob Haish our appreciation of the very generous manner in which they have co-operated in the building of our new house of worship. May Earth's choicest blessing attend them, and may we enjoy their companionship for years to come.

Dated September 29, 1909

Trustees:
Frank W. Ray, Pres., S.F. Parson, Sec., Girard Hammond, M.D. Shipman, G.L. Oakland, J.M. Piper, G.H. Salisbury, S.E. Bradt, Andrew Bradt; Stewards. R.P. Culver, P.N. Joslin, Gabriel W. Jacobson, E.S. Hurd, F.L. Terwilliger, Clifford S. Hunt, John T. Bowles, E.O. Wood, Edward C. Page, D.E. Moon, W.S. Voust, C.E. Bradt, S.W. Patten"

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Image of Denver's Haish Manual Training School

The back cover of the 1889-90 NWU catalog | Courtesy of the Nebraska Wesleyan University Archives, Cochrane-Woods Library
"The above cut represents the building erected at Denver through the munificence of Mr. Jacob Haish, of DeKalb, Illinois, for the Haish Manual Training School of Denver University. Bishop Warren has secured from Mr. Haish an agreement to erect and endow a department for the Nebraska Wesleyan University, on similar terms as originally given to Denver University. One-half of the gross receipts from the sale of the Haish barb wire in the state of Nebraska is to be devoted to this department, until the sum of fifty thousand dollars has been secured. Thus the department of Technology, originally projected by the University, and published in the Prospectus, has been lifted from the realm of struggle into that of security, and was inaugurated formally by Bishop Warren, at Lincoln, June 18, 1889. For further particulars address the Chancellor.

Friends of the University will adopt as their motto: 'No fence but barb wire; no barb wire but Haish.'"

Friday, April 24, 2020

Original Haish barbed wire patent model

Jacob Haish's original barbed wire patent model | Photo courtesy of Larry W. Love, barbed wire collector and historian
I just received an email that included photos of the original Haish barbed wire patent model! This model belongs to a private collector, Larry W. Love, of Texas, who was willing to let me share his story and photos here.

The patent model itself has had a long and winding history. It was originally submitted to the U.S. Patent Office as part of Haish's patent proposal. 

Haish patent 167,240, as notated on the model tags | Image from Google Patents

Haish patent for the reissue RE9036, as notated on the model tags | Image from Google Patents
However, on September 24, 1877, the United States Patent Office in Washington, D.C., where the model was housed, suffered its second fire

"The surviving models proved too expensive to maintain and store, and so in 1926 thrifty Calvin Coolidge ordered the remainder sold off. The Smithsonian took some, independent retailers scooped up others, and finally in 1942 an auctioneer couple bought the last 50,000 with plans to open a museum," according to this article.

Tags associated with the Haish patent model | Photo courtesy of Larry W. Love, barbed wire collector and historian
When a museum never came to fruition, the items were once again sold off. Cliff Petersen, a collector from California, purchased many, many models, including this Haish patent model. 

You can read an interesting article about Petersen's life and collection by clicking here.

As the years passed, bits and pieces of Petersen's collection were sold off, said Larry W. Love, a barbed wire collector and historian from Texas.

"From time to time Cliff issued catalogs picturing various models for sale," Love said. "The model was purchased from Cliff directly by a fellow collector over thirty years ago."

Tags associated with the Haish patent model. | Photo courtesy of Larry W. Love, barbed wire collector and historian
Tags associated with the Haish patent model. | Photo courtesy of Larry W. Love, barbed wire collector and historian
The collector would display the model as a centerpiece at various barbed wire shows, where Love would see it. He told the collector that he would be interested in purchasing it, if the opportunity became available.

That opportunity came just six weeks ago.

"The most important item in my collection is the original Haish barbed wire patent model," Love said. "Each barb is slightly different with the barb on the far right side being two 'S' barbs side by side. I believe Jacob knew that, while what was being described in the patent was important..."

Close-up of a barb on the Haish patent model | Photo courtesy of Larry W. Love, barbed wire collector and historian
Close-up of a barb on the Haish patent model | Photo courtesy of Larry W. Love, barbed wire collector and historian
Thank you to Love for sharing this item with us! Love's interest in barbed wire began when he was 16 years old, working on a ranch in Central Texas. He saw a display of barbed wire on the wall of the boot shop, and the owner gave him information about the Texas Barbed Wire Collectors Association. He built his collection and interests from there. But why the interest in Haish?

"Jacob was but just one of the players whose advertising I collected," Love said. "He, like Bet-A-Million Gates, played the role of underdog to their advantages."

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Haish Manual Training School - Lincoln, NE

A drawing of the Lincoln Haish Manual Training School, as seen in the Nebraska Wesleyan Catalog 1891-92.

The Haish Manual Training School was built in Lincoln, Nebraska, after a monetary donation from Jacob Haish, much like the training school he donated in Denver, Colorado.

The purpose of these schools was to teach students hands-on education, such as iron work, wood carving and foundry, typewriting and more. Money for a building was to be raised through barbed wire sales, with one half of gross receipts going toward the building until $50,000 was raised.

The Somonauk Reveille newspaper in Illinois called the idea "A good big advertising scheme for Mr. Haish, as all the Wesleyan ministers, church people and students will preach and talk Haish wire until the required sum has been raised."

And did they ever talk....

Advertisement for Haish's barbed wire plan in Lincoln, NE, as seen in the Nebraska Wesleyan Catalog 1891-92.

From an advertisement of Haish's plan: 
"Haish Barb Wire! Is a Perfect Wire. An Economical Wire. The Best! And at prices that compete with the World. Our boys have invented a COLLEGE YELL! 'You Try 'Er, You Buy 'Er, Haish Wire! Haish Wire!

This is uttered under fifty pounds pressure and on tiptoe. If there is no Agent in your town write to Mr. Jacob Haish, DeKalb, Illinois. Tell your Hardware Man what Mr. Haish has done for Colorado and Nebraska Methodists. We put a Barb Wire Cane in the Corner Store, and we are going to put a Barb Wire Lightning Rod on the MANUAL TRAINING BUILDING, and we want Nebraska Methodists FENCED IN with Barb Wire!"

Jacob Haish's successful donation was documented in the Nebraska Wesleyan University catalog for the school year 1891-92, which can be viewed on Google Books.
A listing of the faculty of the Haish Mechanical Institute, as published in the Nebraska Wesleyan Catalog 1891-92.
From the catalog:

"Mr. Jacob Haish of DeKalb, Ill., whose munificence erected the Haish Manual Training School of Denver University, agreed to erect and endow a similar one for the Nebraska Wesleyan University and on the same terms. One half the gross receipts from the sale of barb wire was to be devoted to this department until the sum of $50,000 was secured. ... Mr. Haish has exceeded his promise, both in the matter of time and the amount to be expended. Wire sales were not up to the measure of a building, but he authorized us to go ahead. ... It is the finest Manual Training building in the United States."


Semester pricing per the Nebraska Wesleyan Catalog 1891-92.

While the school was enjoyed for a few years, unfortunately, on January 29, 1894, an arsonist set fire to the building. It was never rebuilt. Below is a photo of the damage.

"Ruins of the Haish building" | Photo from the Nebraska Wesleyan University Archives, Cochrane-Woods Library

Thank you to Martha A. Tanner, M.S.L.I.S., Ph.D, head of research services and archives/asst. professor at the Cochrane-Woods Library at Nebraska Wesleyan University, for her assistance with this post.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Jacob Haish photograph

Jacob Haish in 1899. Photo courtesy of Jeff Marshall

Jeff Marshall shared this photograph of Jacob Haish with me, and it has become my favorite image of Haish. It was taken in 1899; Haish would have been about 73 years old.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Brick from the Jacob Haish mansion

Bricks from the Jacob Haish mansion | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The pictured brick is from Scott Golden, of DeKalb. Like many remnants of the Haish mansion that still exist today, the bricks were collected unconventionally. His father had "scavenged" bricks from the outside of the Jacob Haish mansion shortly before its demolition in 1961. Golden said his father lived and worked nearby the Haish mansion, and he collected the bricks at night. 

DeKalb historian Steve Bigolin said the sunflower bricks were just one of many designs used around the outside of the mansion. He said many of these bricks were used around the corner tower of the mansion, and that the sunflower design was the only one that was made up of two bricks. 

The below postcard, provided by the Joiner History Room, shows the mansion's tower that was comprised of bricks.

Residence of Jacob Haish, 1901 | Photo courtesy of Joiner History Room, DeKalb County Archives