Blacksmiths worked by hand with red-hot steel to create graceful pieces of beauty and elegance at the Glidden Homestead. The Blacksmith Club at the Glidden Homestead and Historical Center hosted a Hammer-In on September 13, 2015. The Blacksmith Club worked on six forges around the site and demonstrated the trade, techniques, materials, and finished pieces. The twenty minute lessons and demonstrations continued throughout the day. In the days before hardware and home-improvement stores, Blacksmiths worked with 2000 degree steel forming and shaping it. They made useful and essential objects as well as ornate decorative objects.
The Phineas Vaughan Blacksmith Shop at the Glidden Homestead commemorates the downtown DeKalb shop of Phineas T. W. Vaughan, a frequent collaborator with Joseph Glidden. Vaughan held several patents for devices from the 1860s to the 1880s. Additionally, he held a number of joint patents with Glidden.
Vaughan, who came to Illinois when he was around 19, had been born in 1827. When he moved to DeKalb in 1851, he worked as a blacksmith and a wagon maker. It was written that “Energy, tireless energy, and a desire to please coupled with great mechanical skill, brought a sure reward and [Vaughan] is now the owner of one of the largest and best equipped establishments in this part of the state, and what is better, he possesses the warm regard of the entire community.” Vaughan died September 17, 1897
J. F. Glidden Homestead and Historical Center is the National Register of Historic Places home where Joseph Glidden and his family lived when he created his most famous invention. Visitors can see the 1870s brick barn where barbed wire was invented, visit a working onsite blacksmith shop, and walk where Glidden walked. Joseph Glidden developed barbed wire in DeKalb in 1873 and went on to patent numerous other inventions. From here, Glidden shaped the world.