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. It gave each landowner control of cattle breeding and property.
Wire's many styles are now prized by collectors.