Homestead offers program about barbed wire and war

Published: Monday, May 30, 2016 5:30 a.m. CDT

How did barbed wire go from the farm to the battlefield?

Visit the Glidden Homestead and Historical Center at 2 p.m. Sunday for a one-hour program on Barbed Wire & World War I hosted by Linda Fulton, Glidden Homestead board member and retired District 428 middle school teacher. She will provide a historical overview of the significance of barbed wire as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1917 American entry in the Great War.

Often overlooked in discussions about the technological advances developed during the Industrial Revolution, barbed wire was a highly effective invention, first utilized as a protective deterrent for livestock in the agricultural world of the late 19th century, but soon its importance was recognized by the military.

Although barbed wire could be seen as a simple, low-cost, low-tech product, it went on to become a deadly defensive barrier in military fortifications and battlefield obstructions. Widespread usage contributed to the consequential development of armored vehicles, namely tanks, to overcome and break through the thousands of miles of barbed wire strung across the European continent.

As part of the Homestead’s 2016 season, visitors can tour the Joseph Glidden Home where barbed wire was invented, see a working blacksmith shop and visit the 1870s brick barn currently being excavated by archaeologists.

Joseph Glidden developed barbed wire in DeKalb in 1873 and went on to patent numerous other inventions. Barbed wire production continued at the Homestead site through the winter of 1873 into the spring of 1874, when the operation moved into town.

A full season of programs highlighting “Digging Up the Past” continues at the Glidden Homestead in 2016. A tentative program listing can be found at

The Glidden Homestead, located at 921 W. Lincoln Highway, is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays or by special arrangement.

For information, visit, email or call 815-756-7904.

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