DeKALB – Glidden Homestead visitors can go beyond imagining or remembering a seemingly lost DeKalb landmark. Jessi Haish LaRue will give a presentation on inventor, manufacturer and DeKalb benefactor Jacob Haish’s ornate mansion at 2 p.m. Sunday.
LaRue will explore the house from construction to demolition and where some items ended up. A Haish family descendant, LaRue 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. She has been documenting her fourth-great-uncle's story since early 2016 in an attempt to spread the story of the "underdog of barbed wire."
The scale model of the home from NIU’s Regional History Center also will be on view. People who remember the house are invited to come out and share their memories.
LaRue's presentation will tell the story of Haish, a DeKalb barbed wire baron, inventor and philanthropist. She also will tell various stories from her blog, which include the "hidden gems" of Haish's life that still exist in northern Illinois, including memorabilia from his mansion, personal items and more. Haish is renowned for his “S barb” patented in 1875.
“The Haish house was an important historical site that seems lost to us,” Rob Glover, executive director of Glidden Homestead, said in a news release. “But Jessi offers a rare chance to go beyond imagining or remembering the house. Visitors will be able to examine photos of the house over time and see the model of it to get a 360-degree view.”
Jacob Haish was born March 9, 1827, in Germany and came to America in 1835 when he was 9 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, in 1853, to DeKalb, 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 Jan. 20, 1874. His “S barb” was patented Aug. 31, 1875. He followed these with many later designs for wire and other innovative devices.
Also on Sunday, visitors can tour the home where Joseph Glidden and his family lived when he created his barbed wire and see a working onsite blacksmith shop. Glidden developed barbed wire in DeKalb in 1873 and went on to patent numerous other inventions.
A full season of programs highlighting the theme “Time Machine” continues at the Glidden Homestead in 2018. A program listing can be found at www.gliddenhomestead .org/events.html.
The Glidden Homestead, located at 921 W. Lincoln Highway, is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays or by special arrangement. Admission is $4 per adult and free for children younger than 14.
For information, visit www.gliddenhomestead.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 815-756-7904.