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Glidden Homestead's Patent Day celebrates barbed wire history

Svetlana Henrickson (right), board president for the Glidden Homestead, gives a tour Sunday of the Glidden house for the annual Patent Day event that celebrates the history of barbed wire.
Svetlana Henrickson (right), board president for the Glidden Homestead, gives a tour Sunday of the Glidden house for the annual Patent Day event that celebrates the history of barbed wire.

DeKALB – More than 60 people celebrated DeKalb’s history as the “Barb City” on Sunday during Joseph F. Glidden Homestead’s annual Patent Day event.

The local history group offered bus tours of “barbed wire” sites such as the Glidden family mausoleum in Fairview Park Cemetery and the original Perry Ellwood home, which most recently was occupied by Shirley Hamilton Nehring. The home at 417 N. First St. recently was donated to the Ellwood House Association.

The Patent Day event, which celebrated the 138th anniversary of Joseph Glidden receiving the patent for barbed wire, also featured tours of the Glidden home and the blacksmith shop.

For Jennie Cummings, the event was an opportunity to learn more about her past because she is a descendant of Jacob Haish, who helped Glidden with the production of barbed wire. Cummings, who served on the board for the Glidden Homestead, said the annual remembrance of the barbed wire patent is an important opportunity for all DeKalb County residents.

“It keeps history alive,” she said of the event. “It helps you understand your past.”

Marcia Wilson, director of the homestead, said the event has become more popular during the past five years. While the bus tours started with one 22-passenger bus, it now requires multiple tours with a 26-passenger bus.

“It’s gotten a lot of interest from the public,” Wilson said. “We have people come out from as far as Chicago and Darien.”

The event was a hit for Pat Barger, who came from Genoa to learn more about the history of barbed wire and the Glidden family. Barger, who also serves as a docent for the Ellwood House, said history is a passion.

“I’ve always loved history and seeing how things used to be,” she said. “When you realize how people lived 100 years ago, it’s clear we have it easy.”

The event also featured the work of Dave Miner, who had a display of the music boxes and carousels he made out of recycled material. Miner has partnered with the Glidden Homestead for the month to show his creations and host workshops that show people how to use recycled material in creative ways.

On Nov. 18 from noon to 4 p.m., visitors to the museum at 921 W. Lincoln Highway can
view Miner’s music boxes, carousels, trains and dollhouses. At 1 p.m., Miner will give a
presentation in which participants can make a holiday item out of recyclables.

Participants are asked to bring empty cereal boxes, round oatmeal boxes,
round plastic bottle caps of all sizes, milk bottles and old Christmas cards.

Activities will include making a holiday card holder, houses, trains and train cars from the boxes.

“I’ve always liked to work with my hands,” Miner said. “People are surprised at the useful things they can make.”

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