Saturday, December 30, 2023

Jacob Haish

Photo of Jacob Haish | Courtesy of DeKalb County History Center archives
This undated photo shows an aging Jacob Haish. 

The best description I've found of Haish's character comes from a Feb. 1900 edition of the "Northern Illinois," today known as the Northern Star, Northern Illinois University's independent campus newspaper: 

"Mr. Haish's career seems phenomenal. It was due to labor, energy and perseverance. He made the most of his opportunities, was not extravagant, and is now reaping the rich reward of his labors. His manner is quiet and straightforward. He always says exactly what he means, without useless compliment; is not slow to condemn injustice nor to reward faithfulness. His greatest enjoyment is at his own fireside, where, with his wife and friends, he is found to be a delightful companion. He is retired and conservative before the public, and commands the respect and admiration of all who know him."

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

PHOTOS: Haish mansion interior, 1955

It's always a great day when there are more Haish mansion interior photos to enjoy.

These black and white images (courtesy of the DeKalb County History Center archives) appear to be from 1955, shortly after the First Lutheran Church took ownership of the mansion. That year, a public open house was held to view the mansion and changes made, according to an August 12, 1955 Daily Chronicle article. Read the article by clicking here

LeRoy Hayes points out the downstairs sitting room fireplace to his children, Sandra and Tommie. | Courtesy of DeKalb County History Center archives

Courtesy of DeKalb County History Center archives

A close-up of the chandelier. | Courtesy of DeKalb County History Center archives
This chandelier is most likely one that is on display in a restaurant in Rockton, IL. Read more about that chandelier (and other Haish items in Rockton) by clicking here

Courtesy of DeKalb County History Center archives

The table in this image appears very similar to a table that is still locally owned --- read my story about it by clicking here

What are we viewing here? | Courtesy of DeKalb County History Center archives

A grand staircase | Courtesy of DeKalb County History Center archives

This color photo, courtesy of Roger Alexander, was taken by Alexander shortly before the home's demolition. Putting it side by side with the black and white image of 1955 gives us a special view of this grand staircase.

See other interior photos by clicking here and even more here! Learn more about the history of the house by clicking here

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Haish mansion postcard

We've seen this image of the Haishes and their home before, but the reverse side has a written history that I find interesting.

Thanks to Cindy Dockerty for sharing this card with us; it was part of her grandparents' collection of items. Her grandmother, Alice Darnell Weeden of Sycamore, went to Northern Illinois State Normal School and once attended a special gathering at the Haish house. The origins of this particular card and its writing are unknown.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

The "K" or "H" House Mystery?

Photos by Jessi LaRue
"The K-House Mystery" is a book that was written by DeKalb author Grace Trobaugh Hay, copyright 1958. Stories about this book circulate every once in a while in DeKalb history Facebook groups, as folks recall hearing stories that this book was loosely based on the Jacob Haish mansion. Cindy Dockerty was kind enough to gift me her copy of this book, which I've been seeking for quite some time! 

The story follows the Easterly family, who just moved to DeKalb into the "queer old Keane house." The grand home once belonged to A.Q. Keane, "whom the world knew as the inventor of an important automobile part." 

An inventor's home, indeed!

"Queer was hardly the word for it," the book flap reads. "The house was unbelievable, with its fantastic red glass tower, hidden staircases, and the initial 'K' which appeared like a ghostly symbol on every object, from the picture frame that held the portrait of a fierce, brooding man, to the very shrubbery in the garden."

The story follows the family attempting to solve some odd mysteries surrounding the house. Some specific DeKalb nods include a "DeKalb" pennant in an image and references to Prince's Castle, the former ice cream shop, Kishwaukee River, and "old Lincoln Highway."

DeKalb pennant
Some of the descriptions and imagery throughout the book make it easy to see why DeKalb locals refer to this as the "book about the Haish mansion," although it has never been confirmed. Here are some of the references I picked up on while reading, interpret them as you will...

The family's first impressions of the house:

"It's red and pink," Ellen giggled.

"It has a necklace of red and blue glass around the porch," Mother laughed.

 A color photo of the mansion in the 1950s, provided by Steve Bigolin.

The depiction of the "K" house on the book cover.
"They found concrete roosters, squirrels, and cats and dogs modeled at the base of the porch pillars. ... They discovered stained glass windows stuck in surprising spots. Roosting on top of the tall chimneys were stone owls in various poses. A round tower made almost entirely of red glass perched on one side of the green tile roof."

Photo from an auction at the Haish mansion in 1955, showing the "animal" porch pillars. Image courtesy of Joiner History Room, DeKalb County Archives.

The posts and portrait as portrayed in the book.
The Jacob Haish portrait that once hung in his mansion, now on display at NIU's Founders Memorial Library.
Hand-painted murals on the walls and multiple fireplaces in the Haish home have been remembered in local stories and newspaper articles. The story references a staircase and murals that made me think of the below photo.

"Anne found lovely summer sky and clouds painted on the ceiling of her bedroom. The chandeliers downstairs were shaped like grotesque animals; the two bathtubs were large fish; the colored tile floor of the octagonal library had words imprinted here and there and a large K in the center; the newel posts of the broad stairs looked exactly like heavy dark sugar bowls with lids."

The interior of the Haish mansion captured by photographer Roger Alexander in 1961, shortly before the house was demolished.
A staircase as portrayed in the book.

The K House's parlor as illustrated in the book.
What do you think? Do you see similarities between the fictional DeKalb "K-House" and the Jacob Haish mansion? Have you read this book before?

Monday, June 26, 2023

Haish-Built Engines Featured in Show

I recently attended the 52nd Sandwich Show in Sandwich, IL. This show featured Haish built engines, some of which I captured in photo and video and posted below. Haish's involvement in engine manufacturing is pretty varied: his earliest engines were part of "Cock O' The Walk Line," then the "Chanticleer" line. 

According to "Haish would manufacture engines not only for sale by his own dealer network, but also developed engines for the Appleton Mfg. Co., of Batavia, Illinois, Sandwich Mfg. Co. of Sandwich, Illinois & Rock Island Plow Co. out of Rock Island, Illinois. Haish's engine he built for these other companies were almost entirely the same as his own, with modifications to the said horsepower ratingengine tags or paint schemes, etc. Additionally, Haish manufactured an engine line for the Smith Mfg. Co. out of Chicago under the trade name "Great Western" from about 1905 until 1911. Rock Island Plow Co. purchased the "Great Western" line, which included the engine division, on October 1, 1911 from the Smith Mfg. Co. Haish would then build the "Great Western" line exclusively for Rock Island Plow Co. until about 1916. However, Rock Island Plow discontinued the "Great Western" engine division in about 1912 in favor of Haish's "Chanticleer" line. Rock Island would continue to market the "Great Western" trade name with its famous manure spreader and cream separator divisions for many more years. Sandwich Mfg. Co. stopped marketing "Chanticleer" engines in about 1912 as they had began to develop their own engine with a distinctive "tulip" style water hopper. Jacob Haish sold his entire "Chanticleer” engine division in April 1917 to the Appleton Mfg. Co. of Batavia, Illinois."

Learn more about the engines by clicking here.

Perhaps my favorite was a 4 HP Rock Island engine (built by Jacob Haish Mfg. Co) operating an early 1900s Sandwich Corn Sheller.

And here come the photos...

Thanks to the engine collectors who keep this great history preserved and running for the rest of us to enjoy!!