Joseph Glidden and the Invention of Barbed Wire

Lead: In the settlement of the western United States no problem was more vexing than how to organize the wide-open spaces. The prickly solution came from a Illinois farmer, Joseph Farwell Glidden.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the fall of 1873 at the county fair near De Kalb, Illinois. A local farmer, Henry Rose, demonstrated a new way of dealing with an unruly cow. He had randomly driven spikes through a wooden board and hung it on the pasture fence. When the cow tried to break through the fence, she got stuck by the spikes and didn’t try that again. Watching this were three men, lumberman Jacob Haish, a German immigrant, local hardware dealer, Isaac Leonard Ellwood, and another farmer, Joe Glidden. There is no evidence that they communicated at the fair, but the exhibit set their inventive juices boiling and each began to experiment on ways of improving Rose’s idea.


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