From Ohio History Central
In 1899, numerous barbwire production companies merged together to form the American Steel and Wire Company. These businesses included ones in Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, and several other states. Barbwire proved to be especially useful for ranchers in the West to fence in their livestock. Unfortunately for barbwire producers, numerous companies began to manufacture the item during the 1880s, driving the price and, thus, the profits down. To ease competition, companies created pools -- secret agreements to limit production and competition -- but companies continued to produce too much barbwire. To garner control over the industry and to drive prices back up, Elbert Henry Gary created the American Steel and Wire Company. By amassing all of these firms into a single company, Gary could limit barbwire's production. He could also drive competitors out of business by cutting the product's price. In 1901, the U.S. Steel Corporation purchased the American Steel and Wire Company and operated the company as one of its subsidiaries.