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The History Of Barbed Wire

Jun. 15, 2021

The History Of Barbed Wire

In November 1868, starting with Michael Kelly and ending with Joseph gliden in November 1874, the US Patent Office granted a patent for improving the barbed wire, shaping the history of the tool.

Thorns Fence vs. Wild West

As a favorite method of fencing, the rapid emergence of this efficient tool has dramatically changed life in the Wild West, just like rifles, six-shot guns, telegraphs, windmills and trains.

Barbed wire

Barbed wire

Without fences, livestock graze freely, competing for feed and water. Where there are working farms, most properties do not have fences, allowing stray cattle and sheep to search for food.

Before the emergence of barbed wire, the lack of effective fences restricted farming and grazing, and also restricted the number of people who could settle in an area. The new fence transformed the west from a vast, undefined grassland/plain into a farming and widely settled land.

Why use Wire

On prairies and plains where almost no trees grow, wooden fences are expensive and difficult. With such a shortage of timber in the area, farmers are forced to build houses with turf.

Similarly, the rocks used to make stone walls on the plains are scarce. It turns out that barbed wire is cheaper, easier, and faster to use than any other alternative.

Michael Kelly invented the first barbed wire

The first wire fence (before the invention of the barb) consisted of only one strand of wire, which was constantly crushed by the weight of the cow.

Michael Kelly made a major improvement to the barbed wire. He twisted the two wires together to form a cable for barbs-this was the first such technique. Michael Kelly's double-stranded design makes the fence stronger, and the painful barbs keep the cattle away.

Joseph Glidden was considered the king of the barbs

It is foreseeable that other inventors tried to improve Michael Kelly's design; among them was Joseph Gleden, a farmer from DeKalb, Illinois.

In 1873 and 1874, patents for various designs were issued to compete with Michael Kelly's inventions. But the recognized winner was a simple metal wire barb locked to a double-stranded wire designed by Joseph Gliden.

Joseph Gleden’s design made the barbed wire more effective. He invented a method to lock the barbs and invented a machine for mass production of wire.

Joseph Gleden’s US patent was issued on November 24, 1874. His patent escaped lawsuits by other inventors. Joseph Gliden has the upper hand in litigation and sales. Today, it is still the most common barbed wire.

Influences

The way of life of the nomadic Native Americans was completely changed. Further squeezed from the land they had been using, they began to call the barbed wire "the devil's rope."

More and more land is fenced off, which means that cattle ranchers have to rely on dwindling public land, and public land quickly becomes overgrazing. The animal husbandry is doomed to extinction.

Barbed wire, war and security

After the invention of barbed wire, it was widely used during the war to protect the people and property from unnecessary invasion. The official use of barbed wire in the military can be traced back to 1888, when the British military manual first encouraged the use of barbed wire.

During the Spanish-American War, Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders chose to use barbed fences to defend their camp. At the turn of the century in South Africa, the five fences were connected to the bunker that protected the British army from the invasion of the Boer commandos. During World War I, barbed wire was used as a military weapon.

Even now, barbed wire is still widely used to protect and defend military installations, establish territorial boundaries, and imprison prisoners.

Barbed wire used in construction and storage locations and around warehouses can protect objects and personnel and prevent uninvited guests from entering.

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