Locals celebrate day of Glidden’s patent

By Lark Lewis

The Glidden Homestead, 921 W. Lincoln Highway, celebrated the day Joseph Glidden received a patent for “the Winner” barbed wire Sunday.

Joseph Glidden was a farmer in DeKalb who was inspired to invent a new type of fencing after his wife, Lucinda, complained of their livestock escaping. Glidden experimented with hairpins and smooth fence wire until his final product was granted a patent on Nov. 24, 1874. Sunday’s celebration consisted of historical exhibits, bus tours of barbed wire sites and access to the Glidden blacksmith shop and barn.

The Glidden Homestead was recognized by the Illinois State historical Society in 1955 and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973. The Homestead has been used as a historical center since 1998 and the Patent Day Celebration has been an annual event for around five years.

“We have a lot of different programs over the year and on the board, everyone has their own sort of niche,” said Homestead Board President Svetlana Henrikson.

The board helps with every event involving the Glidden Homestead, but the Patent Day Celebration requires all hands on deck to help prepare.

“It takes a long time because you have to do research, planning and the writing of the labels, it probably took us six months and that’s just for one exhibit,” said Homestead Board Secretary Cindy Ditzler.

While the actual Glidden Homestead plays a significant part in the Patent Day Celebration, visitors also get an inside look at how Glidden physically made his famed barbed wire by going into the blacksmith shop.

“I have an interest in old tools and agricultural history,” said blacksmith apprentice Marty O’Connor. “So when I found out they were going to be doing blacksmithing as a club, I wanted to check it out.”

Marty works alongside Lucio Bortolin, who has been blacksmithing for more than 40 years and prefers to be called an “artist blacksmith.” The pair have worked with the Glidden Homestead for almost four years.