Annie Laurie Glidden was born July 25, 1865, to Josiah Willard Glidden (brother of Joseph) and Mary McConnell. She and her siblings lived on the family farm, until the year after their father’s untimely death in 1876, when they moved into town with their mother. Uncle Joseph Glidden provided his brother’s five living children with the opportunity to attend college, and Annie attended Illinois State Normal School in Bloomington. She later studied agriculture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Always a promoter of culture and social causes, Annie joined the DeKalb Women’s Club, which formed in 1896. In 1898, seeing the need to supply the recently formed DeKalb Public Library with good books, Annie formed the Library Whist Club. On Monday afternoons, this group of women came together to play the card game whist. Their gatherings not only served a social need, but monies from their membership dues were used for library book purchases. To date, the library has received over 10,000 volumes from their activities. Annie was also active in the DeKalb Garden Club.
Annie assumed the role of mother for her infant nephew, Glidden Switzer, after her sister Cora’s death in 1903. After the death of her aunt Lucinda Glidden in 1895, Annie stepped into the role of hostess at the Glidden House Hotel. She continued to do this until the death of her Uncle Joseph in 1906.
Annie’s brother, John, sold her his home when he and his family moved to the Joseph Glidden homestead in 1910. The house became known as the “Annie Glidden House,” for it was Annie’s home for 19 years. The road fronting the property was named Annie Glidden Road in her honor. On her sizeable farm Annie grew fancy asparagus, corn, alfalfa, and raspberries. Her agricultural prowess earned her an award from the State of Illinois for her high corn-crop yields. The home and 5 acres of the land were acquired by Northern Illinois University in 1977.
Joseph Glidden named the northeast corner of his property, Annie’s Woods, in honor of his niece, who loved this natural area adjoining the Kishwaukee River. For many years, Annie and eleven of her close friends would gather there annually, enjoying a fire and outdoor dinner in autumn. It was Annie and the DeKalb Women’s Club who donated the park to the city.
In 1929 Annie retired from farming and moved to Pasadena, California, to live with her niece, Gail Hinman. She would continue to visit DeKalb, catching up with family and longtime friends. Annie died in 1962 at the age of 97 after a lengthy illness, and is buried in DeKalb. Her friends remembered her years of service to the community as the “keynote of her life.” She was devoted to family and friends, and showed them many kindnesses. She was a nonconformist with a fierce determination to complete any task once started. That determination is evident in the 1999 mural at the northeast corner of Lincoln Highway and First Street. Here the towering figure of Annie, hoe in hand, has been memorialized.