Terry Mason's Family History Site
Major lines: Allen, Beck, Borden, Buck, Burden, Carpenter, Carper, Cobb, Cook, Cornell, Cowan, Daffron, Davis, Downing, Faubion, Fauntleroy, Fenter, Fishback, Foulks, Gray, Harris, Heimbach, Henn, Holland, Holtzclaw, Jackson, Jameson, Johnson, Jones, King, Lewis, Mason, Massengill, McAnnally, Moore, Morgan, Overstreet, Price, Peck, Rice, Richardson, Rogers, Samuel, Smith, Taylor, Thomas, Wade, Warren, Weeks, Webb, Wodell, Yeiser.
1807. Delana Wodell
1Arnold, James Newell 1844-1927, Rhode Island, Vital Record of 1636-1899: a family register for the people (Providence, R.I. : Narragansett Historical Publishing Company, 1893), Batch #: C501451, Source Call #: 908270, FHL US/CAN Book 974.5 V2a.
2Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Society, Rhode Island, Tiverton, computer printout, 1636-1850, Extracted from Vital record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850, vol. 4, pt. 7. Tiverton. 974.5 V2a vol. 4., pg 116, FHL US/CAN Film 933413 Item 10.
1Town Clerk, Massachusetts, Dartmouth, 1647-1877, Births, marriages, intentions of marriage, and deaths, ... misc, Salt Lake City : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1972, Batch M500033, FHL US/CAN Film 0903381.
Mary Wodell or Wordell
1Eli Wodell, Wodell Family, Genealogy of a part of the, from 1640 to 1880, p.57, FHL Film 1020783 Item 6.
1New England Historic Genealogical Society, Massachusetts, Westport, Vital records of, to the year 1850, Boston : New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1918, p.255, FHL 974.485/W1 V28v.
2New England Historic Genealogical Society, Massachusetts, Westport, Vital records of, to the year 1850, p.106.
1821. Charles Wodell
1Eli Wodell, Wodell Family, Genealogy of a part of the, from 1640 to 1880, p.47, FHL Film 1020783 Item 6.
21850 U.S. Census, M432_308 pg 10B, 27 Jul 1850. "Charles Wodell 48 M Laborer Massachusetts
Lovica Wodell 45 F Massachusetts
Hiram Wodell 25 M Laborer Massachusetts
Eli Wodell 21 M Mariner Massachusetts
Delilah J Wodell 19 F Massachusetts
Charles H Wodell 16 M Laborer Massachusetts
Rhoda Wodell 10 F Massachusetts
Betsey E. Wodell 7 F Massachusetts
Malvina Wodell 4 F Massachusetts
Josephine Wodell 2 F Massachusetts
John Perry 29 M Rhode Island
Samuel H E. Wodell 34 M Laborer Massachusetts."
1New England Historic Genealogical Society, Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Vital records of, to the year 1850, Boston : New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1929-1930, p.561, FHL 974.485/D1 V28v v.2.
3055. Hiram Wodell
1City Clerk, Massachusetts, New Bedford Vital records, 1650-1900, Salt Lake City : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1995, p.539, FHL US/CAN Film 1994021.
Adeline A. Brown
1New England Historic Genealogical Society, Massachusetts, Westport, Vital records of, to the year 1850, Boston : New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1918, p. 126 & 255, FHL 974.485/W1 V28v.
1Rhode Island, Tiverton, Newport (Extracted Civil records) (Vital Records Index - North America, CDs, 1998), vol 4, pg 58.
2Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Society, Rhode Island, Tiverton, computer printout, 1636-1850, Extracted from Vital record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850, vol. 4, pt. 7. Tiverton. 974.5 V2a vol. 4., FHL US/CAN Film 933413 Item 10.
1825. Holder Wodell
1Eli Wodell, Wodell Family, Genealogy of a part of the, from 1640 to 1880, p.46, FHL Film 1020783 Item 6.
21860 U.S. Census, M653_492 pg 857, 14 Jul 1860. "Holder Wordell 50 Massachusetts
Rachel Wordell 50 Massachusetts
Ardelia B Wordell 24 Teacher Massachusetts
Emeline A Wordell 22 Massachusetts
Hope C Wordell 20 Teacher Massachusetts
Minerva J Wordell 17 Massachusetts
Allen K Wordell 12 Massachusetts
Perry C Wordell 6 Massachusetts."
1Massachusetts Marriages, 1633-1910. "Name: Holder Wodell
Spouse: Rachel Wodell
Marriage Date: 27 Oct 1834
Source: Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT, Film # 0883792."
2Eli Wodell, Wodell Family, Genealogy of a part of the, from 1640 to 1880, pg.46, 52, FHL Film 1020783 Item 6.
1830. Asa Borden
11880 U.S. Census, T9_826 FHF 1254826 pg 26.3000, 14 Jul 1880. "Borden, Assa WM 71 M Retired Farmer Massachusetts, Rhode Island Massachusetts
------, Mary J WF 52 Wife M Keeping House New York Connecticut New York
Darrow, Elsie A WF 18 Granddaughter S at School Wisconsin, New York New York
Crane, Warren WM 5 ? S New York New York Pennsylvania."
1845. James F Borden
11860 U.S. Census, M653_985 pg 256. "1860 U.S. Census, M653_985 pg 256.
James F. Borden 43 M Farmer NY
Catherine " 36 F OH
Adelia " 17 F OH
Edward " 15 M OH
John " 3 M OH
Josiah Fox 17 M Farmer OH."
11870 U.S. Census, M593_1221 pg 165. "1870 U.S. Census, M593_1221 pg 165.
Howe, Thomas 20 M Farming OH
Borden, Catharine 48 F Keeping House OH
Borden, John 13 M Attending school OH
Borden, Jane 8 F OH."
21880 U.S. Census, T9-1032 pg 150B. "Jeremiah W. PHILIPS Self M Male W 65 NY Laborer NY NY
Catharine PHILIPS Wife M Female W 55 OH Keeping House OH OH
John BORDEN SSon S Male W 23 OH Farmer NY OH
Jennie L. BORDEN SDau S Female W 18 OH NY OH."
1846. David F. Borden
1FindaGrave.com, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=54372539. "In the 1860 census for Springfield, Allen, Indiana: David Bordon (sic), age 40, with wife and 10 children, including William, age 1.
Age 90 in Evergreen cemetery records.
In the 1905 MN census for Crow Wing county Township 135N Range 27W: David F. Borden, age 85, b. NY, is living in the household of William L. Borden, 46, b. Indiana, father b. NY, and Nancy E. Borden, 45, b. Tennessee. This implies that William is David's son.
1860 census for Springfield, Allen, Indiana, family #284:
Bordon, David, 40, b. NY
Bordon, Minah, 40, b. Ohio
Bordon, James, 19, b. Indiana
Bordon, Sarah, 18, b. Indiana
Bordon, Mary, 16, b. Indiana
Bordon, Nancy, 15, b. Indiana
Bordon, John, 13, b. Indiana
Bordon, Benjamin, 11, b. Indiana
Bordon, Adaline, 10, b. Indiana
Bordon, David, 6, b. Indiana
Bordon, William, 1, b. Indiana
Bordon, Olive, 4, b. Indiana." Image.
11880 U.S. Census, T9_826 FHF 1254826 pg 26.3000, 14 Jul 1880. "Borden, Assa WM 71 M Retired Farmer Massachusetts, Rhode Island Massachusetts
------, Mary J WF 52 Wife M Keeping House New York Connecticut New York
Darrow, Elsie A WF 18 Granddaughter S at School Wisconsin, New York New York
Crane, Warren WM 5 ? S New York New York Pennsylvania."
1858. Gail Borden III
1Zella Armstrong, Notable Southern Families (Genealogical Publishing Co. Baltimore, 1974.), p 30, G929.2. Printed from Family Archive Viewer CD191, Broderbund Software, Sep. 17, 2000. "He was an important figure in the early history of Texas, where he was intimately connected with Stephen F. Austin. He was the inventor of pemmican meat biscuits and an excellent beef extract and in 1856 he patented his celebrated condensed milk. Texas commemorates his name in Borden County, of which the principal town is Gail."
2J.A. Rickard, Brave Texans, Brief Biographies of, 1980 Printing - Hendrick-Long Publishing Company, Dallas, Texas, Chap 6. " Gail Borden, the Elder, looked at his son for a moment. The younger man, tall stooped a little, and thin, coughed and waited. "And so you want to go down the river." "Yes, Father; Tom and I. This cough keeps on bothering me. I --- I think I need to be in a warmer climate and more sunshine." "I've been worried about it myself, although I don't think it's anything but catarrh, or what they call here a 'valley cough.' But how do you plan to go?" "On a flat boat, sir, down the Ohio River." "You'll try to get up a cargo, I suppose." "Yes, sir. We already have some goods promised from nearby Madison. We'll carry meat, flour, corn, hides, tobacco, and other articles to New Orleans, to sell for the owners. Then we'll dispose of our flat boat and go by some other route. We may go to Texas, unless I find a better place before I get that far." "Well, Son, you're a man of your own now and entitled to make your decisions. Tom's younger, but I'm glad he's going. He's strong and healthy, and you'll need him in handling the cargo." "I'm glad, too, for he'll be company. And we hate to leave home. But I guess this moving business has become a family habit. This is the third or fourth place I've lived since I was born." "Yes, the Borden's have been movers, off and on, since they came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. I don't like the idea of you boy's leaving home. But who knows? If you find a wonderful place to live, I may want to move again." The younger Borden smiled, "Better wait till Tom or I get there and bring back a report." The Elder Borden agreed to the wisdom of that course and busied himself at the task of helping his sons get ready for the journey. Their raft, or flat boat, was made of long poplar trees lashed together, with a top broad enough to hold the large cargo, which the boys soon secured.
Usually people going down the river started in early spring, when the river was swollen from rains, but it was lat summer before the Borden boys started. Down the Ohio and into the Mississippi River they went, guiding their large raft by poles. The trip took some three weeks.
They found New Orleans full of excitement. The colonizer, Stephen F. Austin, had just arrived by steamboat down the river from Natchitoches. An advertisement in the newspaper said that he had gained the right to establish in Texas a settlement of three hundred families, and he was now looking for colonists.
There were other news items and rumors about the new country, some of them too wild to be believed. A New Orleans newspaper published a tale about an enormous animal which traveler in Texas said he had seen. It was standing near a spring of water with its chin resting on a large rock and its tail curled around a tree. Some mustangs came to drink, and the animal seized one of them and devoured him in a single meal. After the monster was gone, the traveler measured the distance from rock to tree. It was fifty-three feet!
There were other tales, more likely to be true, that the Borden boys heard. They heard that there were droves of wild cattle numbering into the thousands, descendants of cattle that priests had brought to Texas a century or more earlier. They heard also of rich valleys filled with fertile land that could be had free for the asking. They were so interested that they went to the hotel where Stephen F. Austin was staying and talked with him, and they liked him.
So far as Thomas Henry was concerned, that settled the matter. He decided to go back home and pay the accounts of all who had sent goods on the raft, and then go to Texas. Gail, however, had met a Dr. William Lattimore, who took an active interest in him and his cough. "Amite County, Mississippi, is the place for you," he told the young man, and Gail decided to go there.
Young Gail had learned surveying in Indiana, and he had also spent a year or two in school. Requirements for teaching in those days were not very rigid, and Gail was very intelligent. Teaching did not earn much money, but it was indoor work and was better for his health. He taught school in the winter and did surveying work in the summer. His brother went to Texas, but he stayed in Mississippi.
Sometimes he rode to school on a horse, but more often he walked or trotted. He liked children and, when he saw a small child going to school, he often took him up on his tall shoulders for a ride. As a teacher he was popular, and as a surveyor he was in demand. At nights he read books from the library of Dr. Lattimore, who also watched over his health. He liked the friendly people of Amite County so much that he stayed seven years with them. He was first appointed county surveyor, then he was made deputy surveyor of the area.
Perhaps one strong reason for his long stay was Penelope Mercer. She was only ten years of age when he began teaching school in Mississippi, but she grew to womanhood rapidly. At fourteen, when he probably began to notice her, she was "too young to marry but not too young to think about it," as one writer put it. Two years later both she and young Borden were "thinking about it" seriously. He went to the county seat, pledged the two hundred dollars required by Mississippi law for marriage, and secured a license. But two slaves were needed, a man to do the outside work and a woman to help with the housework. Almost everybody in Mississippi had them, and young Borden felt that his home should have them. He found an intelligent young Negro man named Tom Rowe and bought him. "Now you select a girl that you want for a wife, and I'll buy her," he told Tom. It did not take the new servant long to choose Ellen, and young Borden bought her for $170.00. On March 18, 1828, Gail and Penelope were married, and the same preacher probably also married the Negro couple.
Meanwhile Tom Borden, who had been in Texas for several years, was writing enthusiastic letters to his old Indiana home and to his brother in Mississippi. Their father, Gail the Elder, left Indiana for Texas in 1828. The daughter Esther had died two years earlier, and the wife died at Memphis, but the elder Borden and two sons went on to Texas.
Gail hardly knew what to do. He was happily married and was making a living teaching and surveying. But from Tom's letters and from reports of passing travelers, Texas must be a wonderful place. Finally he decided to go and see for himself. He went and returned, fully convinced that all the tales were true. Moreover, the elder Mercer, Penelope's father, was also smitten with the "Texas fever."
The Mercers started to Texas first, going by boat to Natchitoches, Louisiana, and the rest of the way overland. The Bordens went to New Orleans and caught a boat for Galveston. There, on Christmas Eve Day, little Mary Borden was born. After a short stay in Galveston, the proud parents were on to the mouth of the Colorado River, where they had a happy meeting with Tom Borden. From there they proceeded to a place called Egypt, in Wharton County, where they had another happy reunion with the Mercers and with Gail's father and other brothers.
Tom was especially helpful. "I've been a surveyor here for some time, and I know where the best land is to be found," he told Gail. "Lead me to it," was Gail's reply. They went to a big bend in the Brazos River, where Gail claimed a league, or 4,428 acres, of land. He started farming and stock raising and may have taught school a while.
Soon, however, Gail was a surveyor for Stephen F. Austin. The "Father of Texas" gave Borden all the surveying work he could do, so that he found it desirable to move to San Felipe. There, in the capital of the colony, he bought a town lot for thirty dollars and built a log house on it. He became sergeant of the militia and took an active part in the social life of the town when he was at home. Much of the time he was away, for Austin had him surveying land from Bastrop on the west to the Gulf on the east. It was a busy and happy life that the Borden's were living.
You should know that: Our hero, who was also called Gail Borden, Jr., was born at Norwich, Chenango County, New York, November 9, 1801. In 1816 the family moved to New London, Indiana, where they were living when Gail and Tom left home. An ancestor, Richard Borden, came to New England in 1837, settling first in Massachusetts Bay Colony, then in Rhode Island. In time the Borden's married into the family of Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island. From Rhode Island they moved to New York Colony. The word "catarrh" was a general term for head, and throat troubles in those days. Doctors now prefer a more nearly exact naming of the malady. Natchitoches was on the Red River in Louisiana. People could go that far toward Texas by boat or ship and finish the trip overland. The cow was a native of Texas. Spaniards brought the animals to the New World, and Coronado gave Texas its start of wild cattle. Missions had large herds of animals. The man who thus spoke of Penelope was Dr. Joe B. Frantz, who wrote an excellent book on Gail Borden titled "In the Service of Texas".
In 1829, when Gail Borden came to Texas, barely two thousand people from the United States were living there, but after that time the number increased rapidly. The Mexican Government, which had been encouraging them with large gifts of land, now became alarmed. On April 6, 1830, a law was passed forbidding immigration except to Austin's or De Witt's colonies, and placing restrictions on it there.
Immigrants kept coming, however, and from the first some of them wanted Texas to be independent. Naturally there was trouble, and it started at Anahuac, where a Mexican leader attempted to arrest two Americans, William Barret Travis and William H. Wharton. The Texans resisted, and a rebellion began.
Meanwhile, in Mexico, Santa Anna was opposing President Bustamente, and the rebelling Texans announced their support of him. In a "citizens' meeting" at Turtle Bayou, near Anahuac, they adopted resolutions favoring Santa Anna. They also appointed a committee of three men to ask the other settlements to send delegates to a convention that would speak for the entire colony. Gail Borden was the secretary of that meeting and was one of the three members of the committee.
The convention was held on October 1, 1832, and a second one, which Borden attended, was held six months later. In both conventions the delegates asked that the Law of April 6 be repealed and that Texas be made a separate state from Coahuila. Austin was appointed to carry these requests to the Mexican Government.
He left Texas to carry out his mission. During the long period of his absence in Mexico, Gail was busier than ever attending to the tasks that Austin had given him. He answered letters, kept the land office records straight, and continued his surveying work.
He also became interested in the publication of a newspaper. According to a public announcement it was to be "printed every week on a sheet larger than any hitherto published in Texas." It was to be "a tool of no party but would fearlessly expose crime and critical error wherever met with." The subscription price was to be five dollars per year if paid in advance, or more if paid later. Its name was the "Telegraph and Texas Register."
It was not the first paper published in San Felipe, but its founders had as much trouble as if it had been the first. An earlier publication known as the "Texas Gazette" had been published for a time, but it has stopped publication and moved away.
Gail's brother Tom went to New Orleans and bought a press, and the two Borden's, with the aid of Joseph H. Baker, perfected plans to publish the newspaper. The first issue came out in October 1835. Baker and Tom Borden soon went to war, but Gail stayed with the printing press.
The first issue, which appeared late one Saturday afternoon, was not so large as modern newspapers. It had only eight small pages and was written with few large headlines. Although several papers had been published in Texas before, none of them had lasted longer than two years. This one lasted more than forty years; therefore, it was really the first permanent newspaper in Texas.
There was no rapid way to gather news in those days, but the Telegraph and Texas Register managed to fill its columns. In the first issue there were several advertisements of eight lines or less. Near them, also on page one, was a short poem and a two-column account of the life of Robert Morris. On another page was an explanation of the name chosen for the paper, and quite a bit of space was devoted to the news of the growing quarrel with Mexico.
The newspaper quickly became the official organ of the Texas Revolution. Most of the public documents of the Texas Government were published in its columns, and sometimes it printed letters or editorials written by Austin himself. Twenty-one issues were published in San Felipe before the press was moved to Harrisburg. Some of the issues were printed later than the paper was supposed to be issued, for there was trouble in getting print paper and supplies on time.
News of the fall of the Alamo reached San Felipe, and it was believed that Santa Anna would move on and capture that town. The Texas Government officials moved to Harrisburg. Before starting, President David G. Burnet saw Borden. "Be sure to move your press," he said, "for we will still need it." "But I have no wagon or team for the moving," Borden replied. "We will furnish both," said Burnet, and he kept his word.
Borden had barely set up an issue of the paper in his press at Harrisburg when Santa Anna marched into that town. His main objective was to capture the Texas officials, but he showed his hatred of Borden's paper by dumping his press into Buffalo Bayou, near the town.
Houston won the Battle of San Jacinto soon afterward, but the press could not print and account of the victory; it was already gone. In May 1836, Borden went to President Burnet. "I need help in securing a press for another paper. Now if the Texas Government can only pay what they owe me for public printing." Burnett answered, "but I will give you a letter of credit to our purchasing agent in New Orleans."
Borden took the letter of credit, but the purchasing agent had no money either! Finally a press was bought in Cincinnati with money secured by mortgaging land belonging to Gail Borden.
The capital of Texas then being at Columbia, Borden went there with his press. An issue was printed late in 1836; other issues appeared regularly until April of the next year. The paper was then sold to Dr. Frances Moore, Jr., and to Jacob W. Cruger, and was moved to Houston.
But Gail Borden's services to Texas were not yet ended. President Houston summoned him. "In recognition of your valuable help with your printing press I am appointing you collector of customs at Galveston," he told Borden. "Texas needs the money, and about the best way to get it is at ports of entry. We need some good men there."
Borden accepted the work and moved to Galveston. The salary he received was so small that it barely provided a living for his growing family. Living conditions were bad, too, in that town of a hundred or more houses, but the climate was good, and the place was growing in importance.
On June 24, 1937, he arrived in Galveston and took up his duties. He found there an old, one-room frame building that had served as a place for collecting customs while Mexico was in control of Texas. Brushing out the cobwebs and sweeping the floor, he opened the door for business.
There was no printed schedule of rates to be charged, and he had to seek information from the Treasurer of the Republic as to the charges to be made. He had to keep a close watch on smugglers also. His diligence is shown by the fact that at the end of three months his books showed that almost $25,000 had been taken in by his office. At the end of 1838 the total for the year was more than $100,000.
"That's good work! Keep it up," President Houston told him after visiting Galveston and inspecting the customs collection work. Borden kept it up, but as a friend of Houston he criticized the electing of Lamar as President - and lost his position.
He continued to live at Galveston, but now he was working for the Galveston City Company, a group formed to develop the city. For several years he was secretary and agent of the company, and during that time 2,500 city lots were sold and the population of Galveston was doubled.
As soon as Lamar had served his term as President, Houston again was elected to the position. He promptly appointed Borden to his old job as collector of customs. Borden continued to be secretary of the Galveston City Company, and before the end of Houston's second term, Borden had resigned from his appointive position.
His official connection with the Republic of Texas was now ended. He was no longer a servant of his country.
You should know that: Robert Morris helped General Washington finance the War of the American Revolution, and helped write the National Constitution. Anahuac was near the northern tip of Galveston Bay. Actually three persons were appointed to go to Mexico to present the petitions and resolutions of 1833. In the end, however, only Austin went. Borden escaped from Harrisburg with a few copies of his paper, we are told. Almost a complete file of the issues is in the library of the University of Texas.
Tinkerer and Inventor
Important as were Gail Borden's services to Texas, it was his work as an inventor that made his name famous. "You are always tinkering with things," a blacksmith friend told him one day at San Felipe. "Some day you'll invent something valuable." "That's my life ambition," Borden replied.
But it was not until after he moved to Galveston that Borden turned seriously to the task of making a valuable invention. He worked in his garden which was surrounded by vines, figs, and oleanders, so that curious neighbors could not watch. He experimented with a new type of Irish potato and grew mulberry trees and broomcorn. He was interested also in Merino sheep, Berkshire hogs, and Shorthorn cattle.
Indeed, he seemed interested in many things. When he found that the water of Galveston was bad, he located a new water supply near the Gulf beach. "The sand catches the rain and keeps it separated from salt water, so it stays fresh," he explained.
He was greatly concerned about yellow fever, a terrible disease in those days. Although he did not know, as we do today, that the mosquito was the carrier of the disease, he did know that it was worse in hot weather than in cold weather. He reasoned, therefore, that refrigeration might be the remedy.
Sometimes his projects embarrassed friends or loved ones. His first wife having died in 1845, he married Mrs. Stearns. As a wedding present he built a dining table with a revolving center. It had an outside rim wide enough for the plates, but the inside could be turned so that dishes of food could be rotated to anyone without having to be passed by others. A large company was present for the wedding, but the bride was in tears, for she could not use a table cloth on the invention. We may be sure that it was not used very long.
Another invention of Borden's that attracted much attention for a short time was an object called a "terraqueous machine." It was somewhat like a prairie wagon with sails and was intended to travel by land or sea. For many weeks Borden worked on it behind oleanders or closed doors to keep out the curious, but at the same time he was telling his friends about it and urging them to be quiet.
Finally he invited a select group for a night ride. Horses drew the machine to the beach, then they were unhitched and sails were raised. With the passengers seated inside and Borden outside to guide it, the curious boat-wagon started moving along in the water near the beach. Faster and faster it went as the wind caught the sails, until it was going at the unheard-of speed of ten miles an hour! Inside, the women began to scream with fright. Someone yelled, "Stop the machine!"
Borden did not hear at first, but when they yelled again he heard. He tried to stop it - and it turned over in the water! The men rescued the women, so that everybody was wet and nobody hurt, but that was the end of the machine. Thereafter Borden had a low opinion of screaming women, but he had no use whatever for anything that would not work.
He next turned his attention to the meat biscuit. The idea for such a food came from the pinole, an Indian food which a Galveston friend had found on a trip to the San Saba country. This pinole was made of pulverized buffalo meat, dried crushed hominy, and mesquite bean. When Borden saw some of this in cake form he said, "I'm going to made a similar food for white people. It should be good for travelers, especially." He started by mixing concentrated beef with flour, working it into a biscuit. He secured a patent for it and supplied an arctic expedition with some of it as food.
He also persuaded Dr. Ashbel Smith, a leading scientist of the day, to promote the product, and the two tried to interest army men. But troubles beset the promoters from the first. Machinery for making the new food cost ten thousand dollars to begin with, and more was needed later. Although scientists pronounced the biscuit valuable, in the end it was a failure. Borden tried to sell it in several places and spent sixty thousand dollars on it, only to return finally to Galveston broke. "Why won't the public buy it?" he asked one of his salesmen. "They just don't like the way it tastes," was the answer.
But Borden refused to remain downcast and, a year after the biscuit failure, he was applying for a patent on another invention, condensed milk. The idea was not a new one to him. When he was teaching school in Mississippi, he had experimented with boiled milk. In Galveston he had seen children getting scaled milk before starting out on sea voyages. When he had asked why it was heated, he had been told, "It keeps longer that way."
It was also said that as he as coming home from London after showing his meat biscuit at the fair there, he had seen children on board ship who were suffering because some cows sent along had taken sick and could not furnish milk.
But he had trouble in getting his condensed milk patent. Others had secured patents before him to everything but the vacuum condenser, and the Patent Office doubted the value of it. He tried three years before he was finally granted a patent.
Moreover, the time was bad for marketing his condensed milk. The slavery question was dividing the Union, and the Panic of 1857 was soon to come. But Borden went ahead with his plans. He and Thomas Green were partners, and later James Bridges became another partner. They located a factory site at Wolcottville, near Hartford, Connecticut. Later a milk sales depot was established in New York City, and Borden moved to that location where he walked the streets looking for customers.
He did not find many, for the idea was too new. After the first money was spent, he asked his partners for more, but they shook their heads. Bridges especially was opposed to advancing any more funds. "It's time to get some dividends before spending any more," was his reply. Without money, Borden could not buy milk from producers. His factory closed its doors, and his milk tank was made into a watering trough for horses.
He tried again in 1857, and this time Green advanced a little money and persuaded Bridges to do likewise. The machinery was moved to Burrville, Connecticut, where Borden rented a building from a man name Burr and started a second milk condensing factory. His second wife had died, and his one suit of clothes was badly in need of cleaning and pressing. Mrs. Burr took pity on him. "Let me have those clothes," she told him. While he waited safe from public view, she washed his lone shirt and pressed his one suit. Thus dressed, he boarded a train for New York City.
On the train he met a well-to-do young man named Jeremiah Milbank, and to him Borden poured out his story of troubles. Milbank was interested, and he saw that the enterprise needed money. He paid a six thousand dollar debt of the company and advanced more money for operating expenses. Borden hurried back to Burrville, assured of funds and having a new partner. The name of the company was changed to New York Condensed Milk Company, Gail Borden, President.
Meanwhile a magazine publisher named Frank Leslie had published an article called "Milk Murder." In it he said that many children were dying on account of diseases caught from drinking impure milk, and he urged that action be taken to stop it. Borden seized the opportunity. He wrote the magazine a letter telling about the health qualities of his milk. He also bought a horse and wagon and started a milk route in New York City.
However, the new milk tasted different from the old, and the public taste changed slowly. By 1860, the company was making a fair profit but not a fortune. A new factory was completed by June 1861, and farmers soon learned that it was a good market for their milk. Ladies of the town were learning also that employment at good wages was being offered at the milk plant, although its president insisted that they wear caps over their long hair as they worked.
When the War between the States started, all sales troubles ended. Army and civilian orders began coming in faster than they could be filled. In three months alone, after June 1862, the company sold almost fifty thousand quarts of condensed milk. A year later it was selling that much in three days.
Like Houston, Borden opposed the secession of the states from the Union. One son, John, enlisted in the Union army; and another son, Lee, was with the Confederates. On a number of occasions Borden publicly expressed his opposition to secession. His loyalty to the Union and the growth of his business interests in the North caused Borden to spend several years away from Texas.
Meanwhile he was growing wealthy. He kept working to improve his milk product, and he took out other patents and established other factories. He extended his plans to include cider and fruit juices, and he even made a condensed coffee and a vacuum-packed beef extract.
With Borden's growing wealth came new adventures in living. His second wife having died, in 1860 he married a Mrs. Church, and the family moved into a two story white colonial mansion in Brewster, New York. His son Lee joined him in 1867 and became a leader in the business. Borden's gifts to charity increased. He was especially fond of standing on a street corner in the Bowery, a part of New York City where poor people lived or worked, and handing out nickels to children.
He went back to Texas in 1867. His factories were now largely in the North, but he still regarded Texas as his home. He had a sawmill in Bastrop, and he established a beef extracting business at a place called Borden, a few miles east of Columbus. There he built a home at which he spent his winter months, going north during the warm seasons of the year. He died in January 1874.
He had lived a full life and, on the whole, a successful one. He had helped free Texas. He had linked his name with an industry, and that name had become a household word. He is the perfect example of the man who kept on trying after repeated failures until he finally succeeded. The company that now proudly bears his name numbers among it employees and stockholders many thousands of people, and its annual sales runs into multiplied millions. Especially appropriate is its motto, "If it's Borden's, it's got to be good."
Gail Borden would have liked that motto. It was one by which he lived.
You should know that: Noah Smithwick was the blacksmith who in his memoirs spoke of Borden's tinkering at San Felipe. Others claimed to have invented the milk condensing process before Borden. He never disputed those claims; he simply said he was applying the vacuum process to the condensing of the milk and was making it work. Borden County, at the eastern rim of the Staked Plains, was named after him, and Gail is its county seat."
3092. Morton Quinn Borden
1Weld, Hattie L. Borden, Borden, Richard & Joan, who settled in Portsmouth R.I., Historical and genealogical record of the descendants..., Albany, N.Y. : Joel Munsell, , pg 247, FHL US/CAN Film 512.
3096. John Gail Borden
1Zella Armstrong, Notable Southern Families (Genealogical Publishing Co. Baltimore, 1974.), p 30, G929.2. Printed from Family Archive Viewer CD191, Broderbund Software, Sep. 17, 2000. "He succeeded to the presidency of the New York Condensed Milk Company at the death of his father."
1859. Thomas Henry Borden
1Weld, Hattie L. Borden, Borden, Richard & Joan, who settled in Portsmouth R.I., Historical and genealogical record of the descendants..., Albany, N.Y. : Joel Munsell, , pg 190-191, FHL US/CAN Film 512. "In 1824 Thomas H. Borden went to the Republic of Texas, Being followed several years later by his father and brothers. All of them settled Austin's Colony, and for several years were engaged in such industrial and business pursuits as the condition of the country permitted. During the troublous times that preceded the Revolution, from Mexico, he, with his brothers, warmly espoused the cause of the settlers. Thomas H., and Gail, who had established the first newspaper in the colony, advocated with vigor a separation from Mexico. Thomas H. Borden was in the "Grass Fight" and also took part in the storming of San Antonio.
The Galveston News of March 17, 1877, said of him:
"He passed through all the vicissitudes attendant upon the settlement of the country by Anglo-Americans. and died at his residence in Galveston on Friday morning, March 16, at 6 o'clock, aged 72. Like many others. once well-known in the country. he had spent so much of the later years of his life in retirement as to be little known to the majority of the present generation. He was a brother of Gail Borden. deceased. whose invention of meats. milk and vegetables, have conferred so many benefits on mankind. and also a brother of John P. Borden, first commlsioner of the General Land Office of the Republic of Texas, who still survives. Gall and Thomas H. Borden were the founders of the Telegraph (newspaper). established In Texas in 1835, and the office of which was destroyed at Harrisburg by Santa Ana, previous to the battle of San Jacinto, in 1836. The paper was as afterward revived and sold to Cruger & Moore. who continued to publish it at Houston where it has just been discontinued. Thomas H. Borden, like his brother Gail, was a man of ingenious and inventive turn, and was the patentee of a steam guage that was long in use on boats throughout the United States and from which he realized such profits as for a time placed him in independent circumsances.
He was the builder of the first great mill fur grinding gain in Galveston, and as early as 1840, had a mill on Postoffice street, opposite the present postoffice."
The above is not entirely correct. He was not the patentee of a steam gauge, as he neveer took out a patent. He had a mistaken notion that the granting of patents was wrong in principle, and hence never applied for one. We claim for himthat which. the Patent Office would prove, but for this peculiar idea of his, that he was the Inventor not of a steam gauge, but of THE STEAM GAUGE; that he was the first to measure the amount of steam in a boiler by mechanical device. It did not require a great length of time for the world to find out its nor that Its inventor and manufacturer had failed to protect the result of his genius. Hence his pecuniary benefit, together with the recognition as the inventor of so useful a device, both soon left him. It is a satisfaction for the editor (his granddaughter) to thus let those of his own household know that the world owes him the praise for this invention."