Joseph F. Glidden.--Often do we hear it said of those who have attained distinguished honors by reason of a well spent and successful life that they were men who rose to eminence through adventitious circumstances, and yet to such carping criticisms and lack of appreciation there needs to be made but the one statement that fortunate environments encompass nearly every man at some stage in his career, but the strong man and the successful man is he who realizes that the proper moment has come, that the present and not the future holds his opportunity. The man who makes use of the Now and not the To Be is the one who passes on the high way of life others who started out ahead of him and reaches the goal of prosperity far in advance of them. It is this quality in Mr. Glidden that has made him a leader in the business world and won him a name in connection with the industrial interests of the country that is known throughout the United States.
The salient points in his life history are as follows: He was born January 18, 1813, in Charleston, Sullivan County, New Hampshire, his parents being David and Polly (Hurd) Glidden, also natives of that state. During the infancy of our subject they removed to a farm in Orleans county, New York, where they remained until 1844, when they emigrated westward. After a short residence in Ogle county, Illinois, they came to De Kalb county, spending the rest of their days in the home of their son, Joseph F., who rewarded them for their care of him in boyhood by untiring devotion to their comforts and needs.
On the home farm in New York our subject was reared and his ample training in the fields through the summer months was supplemented by mental training in the school room during the winter season. He also studied algebra and the classics in addition to the common English branches, hoping to pursue a collegiate course, but that plan was finally abandoned. He, however, studied for a time in Middlebury Academy, in Genesee county, and in the seminary at Lima, New York. After teaching school for some time he returned to farming as a more congenial occupation and operated rented land. He had no money to buy, but he knew that in the Mississippi valley there stretched acre after acre of broad prairie hitherto uncultivated, and with the hope of securing a farm of his own he came to Illinois in the fall of 1842. Leaving the Empire state he proceeded to Detroit with two threshing machines of primitive construction and spent thirty days on the wheat farms of Michigan, operating his threshers with the assistance of his brother, Willard, and two other men. He subsequently shipped his machines to Chicago and then to De Kalb county, where he followed threshing two years. In the winter after his arrival he purchased six hundred acres of land of section 22, De Kalb township, a mile west of the village, and at once began to develop and improve it. He still owns that property which he has made one of the finest farms in Illinois, its boundaries having been extended until it comprises more than eight hundred acres, the greater part of which is under a high state of cultivation, while substantial buildings and other modern accessories indicate the practical and progressive spirit of the owner. Other lands were purchased by Mr. Glidden as his capital has increased and he now owns over fifteen hundred acres, wherefrom he derives a good income. He has always been interested in the raising of fine stock and in connection with H.B. Sanborn is the owner of a cattle ranch in Texas, where they are herding about sixteen thousand head of cattle. They own two hundred and eighty sections of land, covering two hundred and eighty square miles of territory and requiring one hundred and fifty miles of fencing. This has now been turned over to his daughter, Mrs. Bush, who owns one hundred thousand acres.
But it is in the connection with the invention of barbed wire that Mr. Glidden is best known to the world. His name in that connection is widely familiar. The lack of timber in Illinois made lumber for fencing very expensive and how to obtain fencing material at a low price was a problem which presented itself without solution. Some attempted to obviate the difficulty with only partial success. As early as 1867 barb wire had been invented, but it was imperfect and further study and labor were required to make it a marketable commodity. Mr. Glidden was a practical agriculturalist. His own broad acres required fencing and occasioned his study of the subject. Careful thought, investigation and experiment followed, and October, 1873, he applied for patent, which was granted the next spring. He did not here end his labors but continued his work of improvements and tested the utility of his invention by the use of his fencing on his own farm. The barbs were cut by hand and afterward the parts of an old coffee mill were extemporized as a machine for coiling them about the wire. When a piece of twenty or thirty feet long had been barbed, a smooth wire was placed beside it and one pair of ends was fastened to a tree and the other attached to the axle of a grindstone, which by turning with a crank gave it the required twist. Having secured his patents Mr. Glidden entered into a partnership with I.L. Ellwood, a hardware merchant of De Kalb and a practical man of affairs, who was placed in charge of the business management, operations being begun under the firm name of Glidden & Ellwood. There is no doubt, however, that Mr. Glidden is the inventor of the perfected barb wire now in use. He applied for his patent in 1873, his claim was acknowledged and he secured it. He sold his interest in 1876, but continued to draw his royalties until 1891. He has been the inventor of all essential features of barb wire machines now in use, and to him is due the great credit for bringing to the people of the west a cheap and serviceable substitute for the stone, rail or wooden fences once in use. As time passed the business grew and was removed from the farm to the village, where a small factory was established, and here the improvement was made of using horse power to do the twisting, the barbs being slipped on to one end of the wire and then placed the proper distance apart by hand. In 1875 the company built the first part of the old brick shop, put in a small steam engine, which was made to do the twisting, and Mr. Glidden and T.W. Vaughn obtained a patent for some devices for barbing and spooling that proved of efficient aid to the workmen.
In 1876 Mr. Glidden sold his interest in the business to the Washburn & Moen Manufacturing Company, of Worcester, Massachusetts, and the effectiveness and utility of the new invention having been fully demonstrated the business increased with astonishing rapidity. Mr. Glidden has realized a fortune from his invention, obtaining a large royalty until 1891. Business cares, however, he never laid aside. Indolence and idleness are utterly foreign to his nature, and he still devotes many hours each day to the superintendence of his business interests. He is the owner of the De Kalb Roller Mills, has been vice-president of the De Kalb National Bank since its organization in 1883, and is the proprietor of the Glidden House, making a very genial and popular landlord. He has carried forward to successful completion all that he has undertaken in the business world. His business methods have ever commended him to the confidence of the public, for he never swerves from the strict path of honesty, and his success has been won along the lines of unflagging industry and enterprise, guided by sound judgement and careful management. His relation with his employees had ever been one of friendly interest, and he is quick to recognize true worth in a man, no matter how humble his station in life. He is ever willing to aid the industrious and his industries have been such as promote the public prosperity as well as advance individual success.
His deep interest in public affairs and the welfare of the community was shown by his liberal donation of sixty-four acres of land to the the normal school, provided the institution was located in De Kalb. This land was a part of a homestead and had been entered by him from the government when Indians still crossed it with their trails. At the suggestion of Jacob Haish, and in the presence of about one hundred and fifty citizens, Mr. Glidden broke the soil with a lead pencil prepatory to building, as this little utencil was considered emblematic of literature and education. He has always voted the Democratic ticket and is loyal and stanch in support of the principles of his party, on whose ticket he was elected county sheriff in 1852, being the last Democratic official in the county.
Mr. Glidden has been twice married. He was married in 1837, in Clarendon, New York, to Clarissa Foster, and when he started westward he left his wife and two children in New York, but both of the latter died before Mrs. Glidden came to the west. She died in Ogle county, in June, 1843, and a daughter born at that time died in early infancy. The children of that marriage were Virgil, Homer, and Clarissa. In October, 1851, in Kane county, Illinois, Mr. Glidden wedded Lucinda, daughter of Henry Warne, and they have one daughter, Elva Frances, wife of W.H. Bush, a merchant of Chicago. Mrs. Glidden died in 1895. Mr. Glidden is a man of domestic tastes and his home has ever been to him the dearest spot on earth. The interests of his wife and daughter were always paramount with him, and friendship is always inviolable. In those finer traits of character which attract and endear man to man in ties of friendship, which triumph over misfortune and shine brightest in the hour of adversity, in these qualities he is royally endowed. Few men have more devoted friends than he, and none excel him in unselfish devotion and unswerving fidelity to the worthy recipients of his confidence and friendship. While his invention has won him world-wide fame, these qualities have gained him the respect and warm regard of all whom he has met personally and as one of Illinois' most prominent and worthy citizens he may well be numbered.
Isaac Leonard Ellwood.--The life history of him whose name heads this sketch is closely identified with the history of De Kalb, which has been his home for forty-three years. He began his remarkable career here when the city was a little village. He has grown with its growth, and has been largely instrumental in its development. His life has been one of untiring activity, and has been crowned with a degree of success attained by comparatively few men.
A native of New York, Isaac L. Ellwood was born in Salt Springville, Montgomery county, August 3, 1833, and is the seventh son in the family of Abraham and Sarah (Delong) Ellwood. In early youth he began to earn his own livelihood. He was fitted for the responsible duties of life only by a limited common-school education, but his force of character, unflagging energy and perseverance made up for his lack of early opportunities. Driving a team on the Erie canal at ten dollars per month, and later clerking in a store until eighteen years of age, thus his youth was passed. The discovery of gold on the Pacific slope, however, brought a change in his life, for, with the hope of more quickly realizing a fortune, he made his way to California in 1851 and spent four years in that state. He worked in mines for a year, and then secured a position as salesman in a Sacramento store. By industry and economy he managed to secure a small capital, but not wishing to invest this in the far west he retraced his steps to Illinois, and established a little hardware store in De Kalb in 1855. His history from that time forward is one of interest, showing, as it does, that there is no royal road to wealth, but that industry and a fit utilization of his opportunities has brought him to the goal toward which all business men are eagerly wending their way. For twenty years he carried on his store, increasing his stock as his patronage justified. His travels through Illinois as an auctioneer, and his contact with farmers, brought to his knowledge a condition of affairs which in later years he was able to improve. Illinois' broad prairies offered special inducements to the agriculturalists, but they had great difficulty in securing fences which would indicate the boundaries of their land and prevent cattle from destroying their crops. As there were no forests lumber was very expensive, and then, too, the board fences were being continually broken down and in need of repair. J.F. Glidden invented what is today known as the Glidden barb wire and Mr. Ellwood assisted him in obtaining patents, having a half interest in the invention. In 1876 Mr. Glidden sold his interest to the Wasburn & Moen Company, and they together, after a litigation of some years, granted licenses to various factories. Through Mr. Ellwood's influence and foresight, all of the underlying and first patents on barb wire and machinery for making the same were combined together, enabling him, with the assistance of others, to build up one of the largest and most successful business enterprises in the history of the country. For forty years farming was carried on in this section of the United States with the same need of fencing material, yet not until the year mentioned did any one take advantage of the opportunity to give the world this important invention. For a time Mr. Ellwood was associated in the manufacture of barb wire with Mr. Glidden and afterward with the Washburn & Moen Company, of Worcester, Massachusetts. This connection continued for some time, but Mr. Ellwood is now the exclusive owner and manager of the large manufacturing establishment at De Kalb, doing business under the firm name of the I.L. Ellwood Manufacturing Company. When he was associated with Mr. Glidden he was placed in charge of the business management of the firm, and to his tact and business ability may be attributed in no small measure the success of the enterprise.
From time to time improvements have of course been made. Countless objections were urged against the new fencing material, but this was to be expected, for no successful invention ever came at once into general use. Its utility, however, was soon demonstrated, and the sales increased rapidly after a time. The fencing began to be used not only by the farmers but also by the railroad companies; and although the railroad corporations were loath at first to accept the invention, they have today thousands of miles of road enclosed with barb wire fence. In order to turn out his material at a lower cost, it was seen that it would be necessary to have automatic machinery, which was secured through the efforts of Mr. Ellwood. This machine was made for the purpose of taking the raw wire from the coil, barb, twist and spool it ready for use; and in perfecting this invention over one million dollars were spent, but the result was at length attained, and one machine was able to do it more perfectly. The works of the I.L. Ellwood Manufacturing Company are very extensive, the capacity being about twenty-five car loads every ten hours, and in this establishment employment is furnished to about six hundred men. It is now consolidated with the American Steel & Wire Company. While others are also engaged in the manufacture of barbed wire, it is a widely recognized fact throughout the country that this industry owes its successful establishment to Mr. Ellwood.
On the 27th of January, 1859, Mr. Ellwood married Miss Harriet Miller, and they became the parents of four sons and three daughters, but two of the sons are now deceased. Those living are William L., Mrs. Dr. Mayo, Mrs. J.H. Lewis, Mrs. B.F. Ray and E.P. Ellwood.
Although a stanch Republican in his political views, Mr. Ellwood has always declined to accept political office, save that of alderman of his adopted city, in which capacity he served his fellow townsmen for a time. He has always taken great interest in the promulgation of the principles of the party, and in the annual meetings of its representative men in Illinois he is always invited and his advice is listened to with interest, and his views meet general acceptance. While refusing office, he was, however, appointed upon the staff of Governor Tanner, with the rank of colonel, and is now serving that position. There is no more progressive or public-spirited citizen in De Kalb county, and he withholds his support from no movement or enterprise tending to advance the public good. In securing for De Kalb the Northern Illinois Normal, Colonel Ellwood gave much time and attention, spending weeks at the state capitol, using his influence with legislators in securing the passage of the bill creating the institution, and its location at De Kalb. In 1896, a bill was passed by the general assembly of the state, appropriating seventy-five thousand dollars to the buildings, and in 1898, one appropriating fifty thousand dollars. In addition to this the city of De Kalb gave seventy thousand dollars. By the governor he was appointed trustee of the school, and is now serving as such. While others were working for the same object, it is due to him the greater share of credit for securing such a noble institution.
Colonel Ellwood is a charitable and benevolent man, one of broad humanitarian principles, who regards not lightly his duty to his fellow men. He has climbed steadily upwards, and all the time he has had a hand reaching down to assist others less fortunate. Always ready to encourage industry and energy, his employees know that faithful service means promotions as opportunity offers. He has won for himself very favorable comment for the careful and systematic methods he has followed in business. He realized the intrinsic value of minor as well as greater opportunities, has ever stood ready to take advantage of circumstances, and even mold adverse conditions until they serve his ends, and in all relations has maintained and unassailable reputation for integrity and honor.
Jacob Haish, the originator and inventor of the barb wire and the automatic machine used in its manufacture, in the true sense of the term is a self-made man. With limited opportunities for study, or for the exercise of any special talent, he has made a name that has brought him national fame and honors that were little dreamed of when as a boy and youth he struggled with adverse fortune. For years his manufactory at De Kalb, Illinois, has been one of the noted institutions of the city and state, where he has turned out millions of pounds of barb wire of various patterns, including the "Eli" barb, the "S" barb and the "Glidden" barb. But he has not confined himself alone to the manufacture of barb wire, but has likewise made a specialty of the manufacture of woven wire fencing, plain wire, staples, nails, the Rustler disk harrows, tubular steel and wood beam hustler lever harrows, barrel carts, bob sleds, etc. His manufactory has been a veritable hive of industry, and he has given employment to hundreds of man at good, living wages.
Jacob Haish was born near Colsul, Baden, Germany, March 9, 1827, and is the son of Christian and Christina Haish, natives of Germany, who emigrated with their family to America, in 1836, when Jacob was but nine years of age. They located in the south part of Pennsylvania, where they remained but a short time, during which, however, the wife and mother passed away, leaving Jacob, but ten years of age, an age, indeed, when all boys should have the protecting care of mother to shield them from the dangers which beset their path. The father with his motherless children soom removed to Crawford county, Ohio, where he purchased a farm of eighty acres in the woods, with the Indians for his neighbors, and entered upon the herculean task of subduing it.
Christian Haish was by trade a carpenter, and his son, our subject, soon acquired a full knowledge of that trade. On the farm, however, he lived and worked, alternating his labors by attending school and using the plane and saw till he attained his twentieth year. In 1846, he left the paternal roof, turned his face towards the setting sun, and finally located at Naperville, Du Page county, Illinois, where he followed agricultural pursuits for several seasons. While living in Du Page county, Mr. Haish formed the first partnership of his lifein the person of Miss Sophie Ann Brown, with whom he was united in marriage, May 24, 1847. This partnership has never been dissolved, but has become stronger by the flight of years. Mrs. Haish is a native of New York, born March 10, 1829. She has proved herself a helpmeet, and a true and faithful wife, not only in the palmy days of luxury, but in the stern and stirring days of opposition and competition, which try the temper and disposition of man.
One year after his marriage, Mr. Haish removed to Pierce township, De Kalb county, where he carried on farming for some three years. In 1854, he moved into the village of De Kalb, where he worked at his trade. After his first one hundred dollars were saved, he purhased a bill of lumber, and from that time began to contract and build a business which he followed successfully for fifteen years. It was while in this business that Mr. Haish was annoyed by the farmers who were anxious to secure sound boards for fenccing, strong enough to resist brute force. This brought to his mind the first idea of a fence. He first began by weaving osage on a fence so that the thorns would prick the stock. This was not practical, however, but opened up the way to new fields of speculation and invention. Mr. Haish next conceived the idea of making "thorns" of wire, but using only one wire, it slipped and proved unsatisfactory. This was in 1873. He next thought of putting two wires together, forming a twist, with the barb between them, when "presto" we have the barb wire complete.
Mr. Haish first made the wire in sections, thinking that to be used for fencing purposes it must be so constructed. Each section was sixteen feet long. He put one side the first section that he constructed, thinking nothing more of it until a farmer came in one day and offered him fifty cents for it, but on this wire he secured a patent January 20, 1874. He next conceived the idea of inventing an automatic machine to make his fence wire. This machine must form the twist, spool, put in the barb, and thus complete the fence. Mr. Haish was urged by his friends to abandon his project as chimerical, but he could not be turned aside, for, with a vision of a prophet, he looked down the vista of time and saw revealed unto him the midday glory and triumph of the fair and the shapely form of the "S" barb, which was all this time taking shape and comeliness in the evolutions of his mind. He was advised by his counsel to enter a caveat to secure his right, but the time ran out before he applied for a patent, thus throwing him out of his right to the machine. He then had it manufactured by a mechanic, who patented it, and sold the right to Mr. Haish. In this way he secured his original machine.
The summary of this matter is this: Mr. Haish introduced one of the first successful barb wires; he made the first wooden spool upon which the wire is coiled; he used the first paint or varnish; he shipped the first spool by rail or water; and introduced it into eight states, before any other man shipped any. He also introduced the first automatic machine for manufacturing the barb wire, but he was not to have his rights without a severe contest, and no contest over a patent right was ever so widely advertised, never so stubbornly contested, and never so courageously defended. Mr. Haish believed with all his heart that he was right, and on the strength of that belief he advanced, he fought, he conquered. During all this time the "S" barb went rejoicing on its way, gaining strength and friends in its onward march. Now, in ripe manhood, Mr. Haish can look back and see in his far reaching sagacity, the vast importance of his new and cherished industry, the Haish Manufacturing Company of De Kalb.
Mr. Haish enjoys the finest and most palatial residence in the city of De Kalb. This grand and imposing edifice he conceived in his own fertile brain. Even the beautiful and exquisite artistic designs which adorn the walls and ceilings of his house were first planned by himself and have a history or point a moral. The painting on the dome--the four seasons--is magnificent and imposing. There is indeed harmony all through the interior of this beautiful and comfortable home. But the harmony of the furnishings is not to be compared to the harmony that exists between the happy inmates who occupy the home.
In 1884 Mr. Haish organized the Barb City Bank, of De Kalb, of which he is president, while George Baldwin is cashier. Besides owning the bank, he owns land in Dakota, Denver, Colorado, Kansas, Ohio and Chicago. In De Kalb city he owns about one hundred and thirty houses, and in the township he has about twelve farms. With all this wealth, he is the same Jacob Haish he was when he worked at the carpenter's bench, willing to help his fellow-men, who are in need, and who appreciate being helped. He is deeply interested in the education of the young, and the building up of his adopted city. For the State Normal School, he willingly and cheerfully contributed ten thousand dollars. He is ever ready to assist with his means any laudable enterprise, and it can be safely said of him that he has done as much as any other one man to advance the material interests of his adopted city and county.