Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Hass desk gives up one of its secrets

I introduced the Hass roll-top desk a year ago, during June of 2020, when it was donated and delivered to the Lucas County Historical Society Museum by Curt and Judie Hass, of Marion --- the third generation to own and use it.

Because it is very large, the desk was moved into the front parlor of the A.J. Stephens House just because that was where space happened to be available. But this was not an especially good location. Backlit by windows in the bay where it stood and otherwise illuminated by a lovely but rather dim chandelier, it just didn't show up very well despite its size.

So on July 2, when an outstanding group of volunteers was available to undertake this and other heavy-lifting tasks, we moved the desk to its permanent location in the Lewis Building's Vredenburg Gallery. The top, secured by dowels, lifts off so that it can be transported separately --- but it still was quite a job.

The desk began its association with the Hass family in 1917 when Curt's grandfather, Albert R. Hass (1870-1963), arrived in Chariton and went to work for what then was the Lucas County National Bank, located in a long-vanished three-story building that once stood on the northwest corner of the square.

It continued to serve as his desk through that bank's consolidation into First National Bank & Trust Co. and his service as bank president (1949-1956) and chairman of the board (1956-1963). First National now is Midwest Heritage.

The desk then passed to his son, Judge Albert "Abe" Hass (1909-1996), Chariton attorney and district court judge; and finally to Judge Hass's son, A. Curtis Hass. It left Chariton with Curt and traveled to northeast Iowa, then New Mexico, and finally back to Marion before the family decided to bring it home to Chariton.

This photograph shows Albert R. Hass (right) and Charlie Haver in the Tingley State Bank, where the two men worked together until Albert moved to Chariton.

And this bust of Albert R. Hass, created by one of his daughters-in-law, also was part of the donation.

Also included was this framed First National Bank monogram that we think was part of the bank's original woodwork. 

The old desk had a surprise for us on July 2.

As the desk was resting in two pieces, waiting to be reassembled, Office Manager Kathleen noticed a gold watch dangling from its innards. This was identified later by Curt as his grandfather's pocket watch. Found nearby was a small gold bullion wrist watch.

Kathleen called Curt and they drove down Friday to pick up these family heirlooms and take them home.

During one of its several moves --- or at some other time --- the watches, once stored in a drawer, apparently had slipped behind it and into the case of the desk where they rested until shaken loose during this latest move.

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