Racine Walking Tour Guide published 1994.
THE CASE MAUSOLEUM
In the autumn of 1884 an awe-struck gathering of Minnesota farmers watched Jerome Increase Case (1819-1891) douse a malfunctioning Case thresher with kerosene and set it ablaze. When the threshing machine had not responded to new parts sent by the Case Company, nor to hours of coaxing by the travel-weary Case himself, what else could he do? As the story of Case’s burning a thresher and replacing it with a new one spread, so too did the impeccable Case reputation. For the "Threshing Machine King" to attach his name to anything inferior was unthinkable. Honest and full of pride, Case guaranteed that the honors awarded his products - from state and county fairs to the great expositions in Philadelphia and Paris - were worthily bestowed.
For many years the Cases and their three children resided at 826 South Main Street. During the winter months, Case and his wife, Lydia Bull (1825-1909), delighted in sleigh rides down Main Street, as depicted in an etching of them. Perhaps that is why Case’s four-page, handwritten will focused on what he wanted done with the harnesses, sleigh bells, horse blankets, and other gear so enjoyed by him and his family during his lifetime. The will also gave great attention to the future of his prized racehorse, "Jay Eye See." It was no secret that fast horses had replaced farm machinery as Case’s passion during his later years. He reportedly paid as much as $27,000 for one such horse. That may have justified the bargain he got on "Jay Eye Cee." One story says Case was given the horse; other accounts say he paid from $350 to $500 for him. Whatever the truth, his beloved racehorse went on to set world records for both running and trotting. Currier and Ives immortalized "Jay Eye Cee" in a lithograph, and a special harness bit designed for him was marketed under his name, as was a chewing tobacco; even a street in Racine bears the horse’s name.
Case was "buried in a steel, self-locking vault, burglar-proof." Case High School, named in his honor, adopted the Case eagle as its mascot, the same eagle as himself had once chosen as his company’s trademark. It honored Wisconsin’s Eighth Regiment, which carried an eagle, "Old Abe," with it throughout the Civil War. From his native New York to Racine, where he established one of the world’s largest threshing machine and plow businesses, Case "did more to make this a manufacturing city than any other man." Appropriately, the state of Wisconsin, in 1937, chose him as the outstanding industrialist for its hall of fame.
Submitted by Deborah Crowell