The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958 Page: 210
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
South Texas. This wire was made in Belgium and was brought
as ballast on ships transporting immigrants to the United States.
The wire was strung through holes bored in cypress posts brought
from Louisiana by the King-Kenedy partnership. This particular
fence is evidence which obviously refutes the complaint that
smooth wire will not hold cattle, for some of the original fence is
reported to be still in use on the King Ranch after eighty-five years
of service. It was put up in 1871-1872. No barbed wire is used on
the ranch, the last having been removed from a lower division
of the ranch a dozen or so years ago. The advantage of this partic-
ular smooth wire fence is explained by several factors such as the
excellent type and spacing of the posts and heavier and better
galvanized wire, but mainly it was successful because the wire
strands were tightly strung through holes in the cypress posts
without any staples to rust out or be pulled out by the cattle.
Barbed wire appeared officially on the scene in 1867. In that
year the first United States patents were issued on three crude
inventions, one by Alphonzo Dabb of New Jersey, one by Lucian
B. Smith of Ohio, and the third by William D. Hunt of New
York. The next patent, No. 74,379,6 was granted to Michael
Kelly of New York on February 11, 1868. A sample of this wire
is shown on both exhibits. Some historians credit it with being
the wire used in a crucial test of barbed wire at San Antonio's
Military or Main Plaza in the 1870's, and indeed the sample was
found in south San Antonio. But whether or not this was the
wire used on that colorful occasion, Kelly's "Thorny Fence" as
it is called, is the oldest and among the best preserved types of
wire in the writer's collection. It was a good barbed wire but was
troublesome to make, and the manufacturer did not have sufficient
salesmen to push it.
The inspiration for the wire that was to revolutionize an in-
dustry and to leave its mark on the history of a nation was dis-
played at the county fair at De Kalb, Illinois, in 1873. This was
a plain strip of wood with metallic points extending out from it.7
Although not nearly so good as Kelly's invention five years earlier,
a patent on this fencing was issued in May of 1873 to Henry Rose
of Waterman Station, Illinois. Joseph Glidden, Isaac Ellwood,
6See Figure 2.
7See Figure 8.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958, periodical, 1958; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/m1/258/: accessed January 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.