Waller Creek District in Austin in Travis County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
First known use of barbed wire in Texas (1857), by John Grinninger, immigrant from Europe, worker in an early Austin iron foundry. Grinninger, who lived on Waller Creek (NE of here) grew fruit, vegetables and flowers. To protect garden, he ran homemade barbed wire along top of his fence. Noted peace officer and sometime outlaw Ben Thompson is said to have recalled years later that in youth he tore jeans on that fence. Grinninger was murdered in 1862. In 1867 first U.S. patent on barbed wire was issued.
Expansion of the cattle industry in 1870’s led to business for wire-makers, for Midwest and Western America lacked timber for fences. John Warne “Bet-A-Million” Gates created a sensation in the 70’s in San Antonio by penning wild cattle with barbed wire.
Joseph F. Glidden and Isaac L. Ellwood of Illinois were most successful barbed wire manufacturers in the United States. Their Texas manager, H.B. Sanborn erected “model” fences in 1870’s-80’s in Grayson and Potter counties, showing ranchers the practicality of enclosing vast acreages. Barbed wire is said to have saved ranching from extinction.
Wire’s many styles are now prized by collectors.
Erected 1969 by State Historical Survey Committee. (Marker Number 14554.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1862.
Location. 30° 15.635′ N, 97° 44.489′ W. Marker is in Austin, Texas, in Travis County. It is in the Waller Creek District. Marker can be reached from Trinity Street south of East Cesar Chavez Street, on the right when traveling south. The marker is located on Lady Bird Trail at Lady Bird Lake. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Austin TX 78701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Site of the Headquarters of the United States Army for 5th Military District (here, next to this marker); F. Weigl Iron Works (approx. 0.2 miles away); The “Austin Statesman” (approx. 0.2 miles away); Congress Avenue (approx. ¼ mile away); Hofheintz-Reissig Store (approx. 0.3 miles away); H&TC and I&GN Depots (approx. 0.4 miles away); O. Henry (approx. 0.4 miles away); Susanna Dickinson-Hannig (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Austin.
Also see . . . John Warne Gates. Wikipedia article on John Warne Gates. Given are additional links to biographical articles on his life and contribution to the barbed wire industry. (Submitted on December 27, 2009, by Keith Peterson of Cedar Park, Texas.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 1, 2023. It was originally submitted on December 27, 2009, by Keith Peterson of Cedar Park, Texas. This page has been viewed 1,232 times since then and 50 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on December 27, 2009, by Keith Peterson of Cedar Park, Texas. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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