The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956 Page: 219
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Fencing in McLennan County, Texas
has assembled a statistical history of the subject, and figures reveal
an amazing "success story," the manufacture and sale of barbed
wire rising from 1o,ooo pounds in 1874 to 80,500,000 pounds in
188o and 297,338,000 pounds in 1gol. A similar pattern developed
in the price of the new material; from $2o.oo per hundred pounds
in 1874, the price declined to a low of $1.8o per hundred pounds
As often happens, a number of other persons had approximately
the same idea, at just about the same time, and for a decade the
American courts were filled with lawsuits and counter suits on the
subject of barbed wire patents. The Glidden patent eventually
emerged successful from the litigation, but by 188o there were
numerous contenders for this gold mine of new business. It ap-
pears that at least some of almost every type of barbed wire manu-
factured during the period made its way into McLennan County
and may still be found in various localities.
Washburn and Moen Manufacturing Company, a leading man-
ufacturer of plain wire, distributed the Glidden patent wire and
had general agents in he principal cities throughout the country.
Another leading contender was the Burnell patent "four pointed"
wire, which had much longer barbs than the Glidden wire, and
was advertised as weighing 352 pounds to the mile. Many fences
of Burnell wire are still to be found in McLennan County.10
Scutt's patent four-pointed, another barbed wire making a
strong bid in 188o, was perhaps more picturesque than the others.
It consisted of two tightly wound wires with a flat four-pointed
metal star inserted at regular intervals between the wires, with
two opposite points bent outward to secure it in place. Its pro-
8Webb, The Great Plains, 309-310.
9There is one fence skirting Highway 6 just north of the Lake Waco concrete
bridge which has four different varieties of this early wire in it. This interesting
arrangement apparently first came to the attention of Sam N. Home, a member
of the Heritage Society of Waco, who transmitted it to the writer along with
additional information he had discovered in researches he had made on the subject.
IoMr. Monroe Walters of McGregor, Texas, now over ninety-three years of age,
recalls that this was the fencing with "real long barbs" which was especially
detested by its early neighbors, and by the die-hards who were still trying to
maintain open grazing. Mr. Walters recalls that when barbed wire fences were first
put up in McLennan County he saw many horses and numerous cattle "cut to
ribbons" on it. It is needless to say that the livestock caught on to what barbed
wire was, in very short order, and it was not long before it had become difficult
even to "drive cattle between two posts."
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956, periodical, 1956; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101162/m1/241/: accessed March 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.