These markers surround us because we live in a community steeped in history and culture. We are sometimes so inundated with what we have in front of us that we end up not taking a minute to enjoy the past that has so enriched our lives and gives our city such a unique and wonderful spirit.
Once called "bobwire" by cowboys, barbed wire was a French invention first patented in the U.S., in 1867, but it did not gain favor with cattlemen until late 1870s. Joseph Glidden of Dekalb, Illinois, received a patent for his barbed wire in 1874, and it was wire of his manufacture that was the first barbed wire fencing successfully demonstrated in Texas.
In 1876, veteran salesman Pete McManus and his young partner, John Warne Gates, made their first demonstration in San Antonio's bustling Military Plaza, it was here in the quiet "mudhole" of Alamo Plaza that McManus and Gates set up a barbed wire corral and then drove cattle into the pen. It is said that after the corral held the thundering animals under the astonished eyes of cowboys and cattlemen, the flamboyant Gates invited spectators in the Menger Hotel to place their orders. After the theatrical demonstration in Alamo Plaza, the market for barbed wire fencing suddenly exploded with large sales to Texas ranchers and others along the frontier.
Pete McManus reportedly sold more barbed wire fencing than any salesman in the world. John W. "Bet-A-Million" Gates became the world's largest barbed wire manufacturer. He helped found the Texas Company (later Texaco) and develop the town of Port Arthur.
Barbed wire fencing changed the landscape of the American west and with it the industries of ranching and agriculture. It made possible the introduction of cultivated cattle stock into the beef industry and opened up the fertile land to farmers and other homesteaders. Within 25 years nearly all the open range had become privately owned and under fence.
Aluminum 27 x 42 Subject Marker
Erected 2000 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 11742.)
Location. 29° 25.483′ N, 98° 29.2′ W. Marker is in San Antonio, Texas, in Bexar County. Marker is on East Crockett Street just east of Alamo Plaza. Marker is at or near this postal address: 204 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio TX 78205, United States of America.
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