Incredible History From This Iowa Town You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
The state of Iowa is made up of hundreds of small towns with a population of fewer than 5,000 people. As a matter of fact, there are 629 according to Iowa Demographics. Every single one of those towns has something about them that makes them unique and they all have a story to tell. I took particular interest in this small Iowa town because this town and I have something in common. We share a name.
Have you ever heard of Glidden, Iowa? This west-central town has a population of 1,154, according to Iowa Demographics, and is located northwest of Des Moines. According to the City of Glidden, the first Glidden resident was Enos Buttrick, who made this land home in the later 1840s. What gave the town importance in the year 1867 was the railroad stop of the Chicago and Northwestern's line from Clinton to Council bluffs.
One of the reasons this small town's history is so unique is this town was the home of Merle David Hay. This man was the first Iowan and one of the first three Americans killed in World War 1, according to the Des Moines Register.
This war hero died at the age of 21 on Nov 3, 1917, while serving sentry duty in Artois France. It's quite possible he was the very first American soldier killed during the war, as the Register reports, there was a surprise attack on the American troops at that time.
There were 116,516 Americans who died in WW1 according to History, and Glidden, Iowa is home to one of the very first heroes who sadly lost his life. The list could go on for things I find fascinating about this little town.
City of Glidden tells us the stories of the first Fire Fighters, known as the "Bucket Brigade" that was established in 1870, or the first building to be established, after the railroad depot, was a general store. I wanted to find out how this town was named because my last name is also, Glidden.
Glidden, Iowa, was named after Joseph Farwell Glidden. According to Britannica, he was a Railroad director, farmer, businessman, and inventor. He invented something you're likely to find on farms all across America. Thousands of cattle farmers still use it to this day. He invented barbed wire.
What made the naming of the town Glidden strange to me was Joseph Glidden wasn't born in Iowa and as far as I can find, he never lived in this state. I've looked through a lot of Joseph Glidden websites and history of barbed wire websites...I cannot find anything on Joseph Glidden becoming an Iowan. He was born in Charlestown New Hampshire and got as far west as DeKalb, Illinois.
I also find it interesting is Glidden, Iowa, wasn't named after Joseph Glidden because of a once-in-a-lifetime invention. City of Glidden credits the town being named in honor of Joseph being a Northwestern Railroad director. The town was named after this guy, because of what his job was. You might not think so but I think that's pretty sweet. Imagine if there was a called Construction Worker, Iowa, or Truck Driver, Iowa.
Finally, I wanted to know if my family history was somehow tied to the inventor of barbed wire and if could I be related to the man an Iowa town was named after.
Sadly, I won't be able to find out today. I asked my dad and he wasn't really sure. He told me we probably are in some roundabout way. A lot of my family is from southwestern Minnesota, so it wouldn't be too far-fetched to think there's a connection somewhere but I'll have to get back you to if I ever find out the answer.
Maybe you've heard of Glidden, Iowa or maybe you haven't. I was curious about this small town because we have the same name but I was pleasantly surprised with all of the unique history that makes this town special. It's amazing what you can learn about a place if you have just a little bit of curiosity.