Jacob Haish (March 9, 1826 – February 19, 1926) was one of the first inventors of barbed wire. His type of barbed wire was in direct competition with the other barbed wire manufacturers in DeKalb, Illinois. He was a known carpenter and architect in DeKalb County and designed several prominent DeKalb homes.
Haish was born in Germany and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1835. He came to Illinois in 1845, and moved to DeKalb in 1853, where he was a carpenter. He cultivated osage orange hedges whose thorns made them effective as cattle fencing.
The birth of barbed wire
In late 1872, Henry Rose developed a wire fence with an attached wooden strip containing projecting wire points to dissuade encroaching livestock. He patented his fence in May 1873 and exhibited it at the DeKalb County Fair that summer. This prompted Haish and other DeKalb residents Isaac Ellwood and Joseph Glidden to work on improving the concept. Haish had patented three styles of barbed fencing by June 1874, before Joseph Glidden's patent issued that November. When Haish's patent for an "S-barb" design was granted in August 1875, he launched a drawn out legal battle to stymie his rival. It failed at the US Supreme Court in 1892, but he continued in the business until his retirement in 1916.
Haish gifts a library
On July 1, 1893 the city council of DeKalb, Illinois decreed the establishment of a public library. The oridnance's impetus was mostly requests from the Ladies of the Library Association, a group that had conducted a reading room for a few years. The library moved twice before the Haish gift came along. First located on the second floor of city hall and then later, in 1923, the second floor of the DeKalb Daily Chronicle building on Lincoln Highway.
Haish had bequested a $150,000 gift to the library in his will in 1931. The result was the Haish Memorial Library on the outskirts of downtown DeKalb.
Haish's philanthropy extended to the greater DeKalb community as well. He built an opera house in 1876, which, incidentally burned down in 1906, though it was quickly rebuilt. He also gave money to help fund a public gymnasium and an addition to the DeKalb Public Hospital. The first books at Northern Illinois State Normal School, later Northern Illinois University, were purchased with a $10,000 gift from Haish; equipment for the library was purchased with an additional $1,400 donation.
- Bigolin, Steve. The Landmarks of Barb City - Part 43C, Daily Chronicle, 7 March 2005. Retrieved 21 February 2007.
- Jacob Haish biographical timeline
- Barbed wire from the Handbook of Texas Online
- History: DeKalb Public Library
- Location of Haish mansion built in 1884, demolished in 1961
- U.S. Patent 146,671 – Jacob Haish, DeKalb, Illinois, Improvement in Wire Fences – "spirally wrapped wires, the ends being hooked together to form projecting spikes" (January, 1874)
- U.S. Patent 147,634 – Improvement in Barbed Fences – "sheet metal pronged attachments", riveted or nailed to fence rails (February, 1874)
- U.S. Patent 152,368 – Barbed-Wire Fences – "twisted wires and spirally interwoven metallic strip having projecting spurs" (June, 1874)
- U.S. Patent 167,240 – Improvement in Wire-fence Barbs – "single piece of wire bent into the form of the letter S" so that both strands are clasped (August, 1875) This improvement was the foundation for Haish's successful business.