Joseph Farwell Glidden (January 18, 1813 – October 9, 1906) was an American farmer who patented barbed wire, a product that forever altered the development of the American West.
Glidden was born in Charlestown, New Hampshire, his family later moving to Clarendon, New York. In 1843, he moved to Illinois with his wife Clarissa Foster. She and her two sons died after the move, and Glidden married Lucinda Warne in 1851.
He created barbed wire by using a coffee mill to create the barbs. Glidden placed the barbs along a wire and then twisted another wire around it to keep the barbs in place. He received the patent for barbed wire in 1874 and was quickly embroiled in a legal battle over whether he actually invented it. He eventually won and created the Barb Fence Company in DeKalb, Illinois. His invention made him extremely rich. By the time of his death in 1906, he was one of the richest men in America. The Dun & Bradstreet Collection, 1840-1895, MSS 791, LXIII, 130, Baker Library, Harvard, recorded his assets at one million dollars. This included the Glidden House Hotel; the DeKalb Chronicle; 3,000 acres (12 km²) of farm land in Illinois; 335,000 acres (1,360 km²) in Texas; and the Glidden Felt Pad Industry.