The History of Chain-Link Fencing and Hohulin Fence
The History of Chain-Link Fencing and Hohulin Fence
Contractors standing behind giant rolls of chain wire mesh, some of the first chain-link fencing produced in Central Illinois

The History of Chain-Link Fencing and Hohulin Fence


From simple wood fences to stone and brick walls, fencing has played an essential role for property owners since the beginning of recorded history. As society has progressed, fencing has evolved, now offering beautiful designs, incredible privacy, and the utmost protection and security for businesses and homeowners alike. However, there’s one unique fence type that wasn’t always around: chain-link fencing! This specialized fencing was only introduced in the last century, yet it has become one of the most popular fence choices. Due to the fence materials’ longevity and durability, it’s no wonder why! And for the prevalence of chain-link fencing in the Midwest and throughout the United States, you have Hohulin Fence to thank.

The First Chain-Link Fence Production

Before making its way to the U.S., chain-link fence production got its start across the pond in Victorian England. Charles Barnard was credited with inventing the first wire-weaving machine, enabling the creation of chain-link meshes and other wire products. This machine was first produced in 1844 and was significantly inspired by the cloth weaving machines of the time.

Over the years, the popularity of chain-link fencing in England exploded, as the fence type was loved for its affordability and ease of creation. Eventually, the wire weaving machine and chain-link made its way over to the States when a New Jersey-based fencing company obtained a patent for chain-link fencing and began selling the product in 1891.

However, there is still some debate over whether Barnard should be credited as the “true” inventor of the wire weaving machine due to a lack of proper documentation and several competing claims from different inventors. In fact, Hohulin Fence has first-hand knowledge of one such inventor in Switzerland and chain-link fencing reaching the U.S. earlier than 1891.

The outside of the Hohulin Brothers work shop, where Hohulin Fence first began

How Hohulin Began Offering Chain-Link Fence

While many acknowledge chain-link fencing first hitting the U.S. in 1891, the first chain-link mesh in the States was purchased sooner! It was 1888 when Gottlieb Hohulin, a German immigrant and weaver of fine jacquard fabrics, took a chance buying newly produced chain-link mesh from Swiss inventor Jacob Schneider. Schneider had created his own (or the first?) wire weaving machine in Switzerland, bringing it with him when emigrating to the U.S. Using this machinery, Schneider created one of the first chain-link fences in the U.S., bought by Hohulin. It wasn’t until years later that the sons of Gottlieb Hohulin saw the potential in chain-link fencing and wanted to produce more.

Sam, Tim and John Hohulin, the founders of Hohulin Fence, started their business in 1897 after tracking down the original wire-weaving machine created by Jason Schneider. Using this machine, they sold their first fence order: 396 feet of 4-foot fence and a gate priced at $26.90. This sale led to Hohulin Fence being credited as the first company to manufacture chain link fence fabric commercially in the United States.

The Hohulin brothers were the only chain-link fence producers in the Midwest for a long time. Hohulin Fence played a considerable role in manufacturing the fencing for military training bases in World War I, having been commissioned to provide protection for these locations. During that time, Hohulin Fence obtained four unique patents for fence manufacturing, being the first company to develop steel posts for chain link, overhead sliding gates, and gates opened by horseback.

The inside of a workshop used for producing chain link fence mesh in Central Illinois

The Chain-Link Fencing of Today

Now one of the most sought-after fence types worldwide, chain-link fencing has only become more durable, long-lasting and affordable. The widespread use of this fencing is driven by its ease of installation, minimal maintenance requirements, and cost-effectiveness for those seeking a secure perimeter.

With dozens of different types and variations of chain-link fencing — such as galvanized, vinyl coated, aluminized or green vinyl coated – you can imagine how far it’s come since the first production in England. And while we don’t truly know who to thank for the invention of the wire weaving machine and the first production of chain-link, we can thank the Hohulin brothers for popularizing the fence type across the Midwest.

Count On Hohulin

Today, Hohulin Fence continues to operate as a family-owned and operated company proudly offering chain-link fencing and various other fence types across the Midwest. With over 125 years in business, we take immense pride in our history and our role in making chain-link fencing a staple in American fencing. Our commitment to quality, innovation, and customer satisfaction has kept us successful over the years. As advances continue in fence technology, we are excited to see where the future of chain-link fencing will take us.

If you are interested in chain-link fencing or additional fence products for your home or business, give the area fence experts at Hohulin Fence a call. Contact us at 309-965-2241. We are located at 116 S Harrison St, Goodfield, IL 61742.

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