Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library at the Alamo

A Guide to the Gail Borden Papers, 1830-1956 (bulk 1830-1860)



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Borden, Gail, 1801-1874
Title: Gail Borden Papers
Dates: 1830-1956 (bulk 1830-1860)
Creator Abstract: Gail Borden, Jr. (1801-1874) moved to Texas in 1829 and worked as a surveyor, newspaper publisher, land agent, public official, and inventor. He won lasting wealth and renown in the 1850s with his successful process for condensing milk.
Content Abstract: Representing a small cross-section of activities, the Gail Borden papers consist of correspondence, land- and livestock-related documents, financial documents, some significant records of the Texas Revolution, and printed material.
Identification: Col 874
Extent: 1.83 linear feet (1 box, 5 oversize items)
Language: Materials are in English and Spanish.
Repository: Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library at the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas

Biographical Note

A public figure who made numerous contributions to the development of the Republic of Texas, Gail Borden, Jr. eventually became nationally prominent as an inventor and entrepreneur.

Born in New York in 1801, Borden moved to Kentucky and then to Indiana with his family before relocating on his own to Mississippi, where he worked as a teacher and surveyor. In 1829, Borden joined his father and younger brothers in Texas, settling in Stephen F. Austin’s colony in what would become Fort Bend County. He relocated his family to San Felipe de Austin and worked as a surveyor for Austin, soon becoming involved in public life and participating in the Convention of 1833, held at San Felipe. In 1835, with his brother Thomas and Joseph Baker, Borden founded a newspaper, the Telegraph and Texas Register, its first issue coinciding with the beginnings of the Texas Revolution. After the war, the paper was published in Harrisburg, Columbia, and Houston before Borden sold his interest in 1837. He held public positions in the new Republic of Texas government, including collector at the port of Galveston, and worked as an agent of the Galveston City Company, selling lots on the island.

Borden also turned his attention towards inventing, experimenting with mechanical devices and food preservation. One of his early large-scale projects was the meat biscuit, a dried beef and flour mixture intended for use as preserved food capable of long-term storage. He spent several years promoting the product and moved to New York to further his efforts, but eventually suffered heavy monetary losses. Borden’s lasting wealth and fame came through his perfection of a process to condense milk, a product that enjoyed great success beginning in the late 1850s after some early setbacks. Several factories were established and Borden branched into other food processing businesses, including a meat-packing plant in Texas, where he spent part of his time.

Borden was married three times and had seven children. He died in Texas in 1874.

References

Frantz, Joe B. "Gail Borden, Jr." Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbo24.


Scope and Content Note

Representing a small cross-section of his many activities, the Gail Borden papers consist of correspondence, land- and livestock-related documents, financial documents, some significant records of the Texas Revolution, and printed material.

Correspondence includes letters received from several prominent figures in Texas, such as Stephen F. Austin, Thomas J. Rusk, Samuel May Williams, Francis W. Johnson, and Ashbel Smith, touching on political, military, and business matters. Several letters from the 1850s detail Borden’s effort to promote his meat biscuit invention.

Borden’s numerous Texas land dealings are documented by patent certificates, deeds and other transactions, and survey notes dating from the early years of his settlement in Texas and reflecting his business ties with various individuals, including family. Tax receipts, primarily from Galveston and Travis Counties in the 1850s, are associated with Borden lands and those of various other individuals. Borden compiled a number of inventories of his lands and other properties in the 1840s and 1850s.

A few items are related to Borden’s stock raising activities and include records of sales and proposed transactions and a petition of Galveston cattlemen regarding the appointment of an inspector of hides.

Documents associated with the Texas Revolution include a manuscript “Circular from the Committee of Safety of the Jurisdiction of Austin” signed by Stephen F. Austin and calling for a military response to the movement of the Mexican army in Texas; a printed broadside urging the commitment of lands to fund the revolution; Thomas J. Rusk's report on the Battle of San Jacinto, intended for publication; and an 1848 broadside supporting relief for Thomas F. McKinney for his efforts on behalf of Texas in 1835 and 1836.

Other items associated with Borden’s meat biscuit business include printed items promoting the product and providing instructions for its use. Two printed items added to the personal papers provide biographical information on Borden.


 

Organization of Collection

This collection is organized into ten series.
Series 1: Correspondence
Series 2: Land and property documents
Series 3: Tax receipts
Series 4: Property inventories
Series 5: Livestock records
Series 6: Financial documents
Series 7: Government and military records
Series 8: Meat biscuit promotional material
Series 9: Collected printed material
Series 10: Separated land patents

Restrictions

Access Restrictions

No restrictions. The collection is open for research.

Usage Restrictions

Please be advised that the library does not hold the copyright to most of the material in its archival collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure those rights when needed. Permission to reproduce does not constitute permission to publish. The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming to the laws of copyright, literary property rights, and libel.


Index Terms

Personal Names
Borden, Gail, 1801-1874.
Austin, Stephen F. (Stephen Fuller), 1793-1836.
Johnson, Francis White, 1799-1884.
McKinney, Thomas Freeman, 1801-1873.
Rusk, Thomas J. (Thomas Jefferson), 1803-1857.
Smith, Ashbel, 1805-1886.
Williams, Samuel May, 1795-1858.
Subjects
Inventors--Texas.
Land titles--Registration and transfer--Texas.
Real property--Texas.
San Jacinto, Battle of, Tex., 1836.
Locations
Texas--History--To 1846--Sources.
Texas--History--Early statehood, 1846-1861--Sources.
Genres/Formats
Personal papers.
Correspondence.
Deeds.
Financial records.
Government records.
Military records.
Printed ephemera.
Property records.

Related Material

Several collections at various Texas repositories contain materials relating to Gail Borden. The most significant collections are listed here. Additional collections containing a small number of related items can be found by searching Texas Archival Resources Online.

J. Gail Borden, Jr., Papers, 1830-1910, 1932-1937, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Gail Borden Papers, 1818-1897, Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Gail Borden Papers, 1830-1956 (bulk 1830-1860), Col 874, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Possibly a gift of the Gail Borden Company, possibly 1962.

Processing Information

Processed by Warren Stricker, 2006 October.

Finding aid edited and encoded by Caitlin Donnelly, 2010 October.


Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series 1: Correspondence, 1835-1866

Box Folder
1 1 F. W. Johnson, Monclova, Coahuila y Tejas, Mexico, to Gail Borden, Jr., 1835 March 18.
2 Samuel M. Williams, Monclova, Coahuila y Tejas, Mexico, to Gail Borden, Jr., 1835 April 1.
3 James F. Perry, Peach Point, Texas, possibly to Gail Borden, Jr., 1836 March 5.
4 Thomas Jefferson Rusk to James Morgan, 1836 March 26.
5 Steven F. Austin, Peach Point, Texas, to Gail Borden, 1836 September 19.
6 Possibly Gail Borden, Jr., Quintana, Texas, to J. Pinckney Henderson and Henry Smith [draft], 1837 May 23.
7 Gail Borden, Jr., Galveston, Texas, to Thomas F. McKinney, 1844 January 17.
8 J. G. Burnham, San Francisco, California, to Gail Borden, 1854 February 16.
9 Ashbel Smith, Houston, Texas, to Gail Borden, Jr., 1854 December 18.
10 H. & J. McCollum, New York, to Gail Borden, 1855 January 3.
11 J. T. Morton, London, England, to Gail Borden, Jr., Galveston, Texas, 1855 January 19.
12 J. T. Morton, London, England, to Gail Borden, Jr., New York, 1855 January 26.
13 J. T. Morton, London, England, to Gail Borden, Jr., New York, 1855 April 7.
14 Joseph H. Barnard, Goliad, Texas, to Gail Borden, Jr., 1855 April 13.
15 J. T. Morton, London, England, to Gail Borden, Jr., New York, 1855 April 24.
16 J. T. Morton, London, England, to Gail Borden, Jr., New York, 1855 June 8.
J. T. Morton, London, England, to Gail Borden, Jr., New York, 1855 June 15.
17 J. T. Morton, London, England, to Gail Borden, Jr., New York, 1855 June 18.
18 J. T. Morton, London, England, to Gail Borden, Jr., New York, 1855 June 29.
19 J. Q. A. Johnson, Boston, Massachusetts, to John P. Borden, Brewster's Station, Texas, 1866 December 14.
20 J. Q. A. Johnson, Boston, Massachusetts, to John P. Borden, 1866 December 19.
21 Robert M. Elgin, General Land Office, Austin, Texas, to Gail Borden, Jr., Galveston, Texas, 1857 January 21.



 

Series 2: Land and property documents, 1830-1873

Box Folder
1 22 Certificate: Estevan F. Austin, Villa de Austin, Texas, certification of Gail Borden, Jr. as colonist, 1830 January 12.
23 Deed: Coahuila y Texas to Gail Borden, Jr., 1831 March 29.
24 Deed: Coahuila and Texas to Gail Borden, Jr., one league on Brazos River [translation], 1831 March 29.
25 Grant: Coahuila y Texas to James Perkins, 1835 April 25.
26 Deed: Isaac Harris to Gail Borden, Jr., 500 acres, Bastrop County, Texas, 1836 November 17.
Deed: Isaac Harris to Gail Borden, Jr., 500 acres, Bastrop County, Texas [copy], 1836 November 17.
27 Bond: Gail Borden, Jr. to H. N. Cleveland for location and surveying of grant, 1837 January 20.
28 Deed: Thomas H. Borden and P. P. Borden to H. A. Banister, lots in Richmond, Fort Bend County, Texas, 1838 April 9.
29 Deed: Herman Tracy to Gail Borden, Jr., James G. Burnham, and Elijah G. Mercer, 1838 May 4.
Box Folder
Oversize 1 Deed: Galveston City Company to Gail Borden, Jr., lots in Galveston, Texas, 1840 March 10.
Box Folder
1 30 Certificate: Commission for examination of records, Austin County, Texas, to John P. Borden, Commissioner, General Land Office. Authenticity of certificate issued to Ignacio Sartouche. 1840 April 17.
31 Deed: Gail Borden, Jr. to Lucy B. Jones, lot 62, Galveston, Texas, 1841 February 7.
32 Certificate: Sheriff and collector, Galveston County, Texas, to Gail Borden, Jr., for payment of taxes and fees at sheriff’s sale, 1843 March 15.
Box Folder
Oversize 1 Deed: Galveston City Company to Penelope Borden, lots in Galveston, Texas, 1844 February 15.
Box Folder
1 33 Survey notes: John Harvy, County Surveyor, Bastrop County, Texas, survey of Isaac Harris grant in Bastrop County for Gail Borden, 1846 January 10.
34 Receipt: General Land Office, Austin, Texas, to assignee of Thomas Bray, for land dues, 1846 February.
35 Deed: Samuel Slater to Gail Borden, Jr., James G. Burnham, and Elijah Mercer, 640 acres, Bexar District, Texas, 1847 September 24.
36 Deed: Gail Borden to Gail Borden, Jr., 1476 acres, Brazoria County, Texas, 1850 March 26.
Box Folder
Oversize 1 Deed: Galveston City Company to Gail Borden, Jr., lots in Galveston, Texas, 1851 March 31.
Box Folder
1 37 Deed of Trust: Gail Borden to John L. Darragh, 1851 December 23.
38 Deed: James G. Burnham and Elijah G. Mercer to Gail Borden, Jr., 2515 acres, Gillespie County, Texas, 1853 November 15.
39 Certificate: Assessor and Collector, Galveston County, Texas, sale of lot to satisfy taxes of Gail Borden, Jr., 1854 July 10.
40 Agreement: Gail Borden, Jr. and William Lunday, Gillespie County, Texas, for management of Borden land in Gillespie County, 1854 July 11.
41 Deed: James G. Burnham to Gail Borden, Jr., 1280 acres, Gillespie County, Texas, 1855 June 2.
42 Release: John L. Darragh to Gail Borden, Jr., 1856 December 4.
43 Survey notes: Stephen Crosby, Commissioner of the General Land Office, Austin, Texas, field notes of survey of Isaac Harris League, 1857 March 6.
44 Articles of Agreement: Gail Borden and Henry L. Borden, 1867 October 17.
45 Memorandum: Gail Borden, Jr. to John P. Borden, 1873 December 9.
Box Folder
Oversize 1 Map: plat of property in the vicinity of Bastrop, Texas, undated.



 

Series 3: Tax receipts, 1847-1860

Box Folder
1 46 Possibly Fort Bend County, Texas, to John P. Borden, 1847 March 26.
47 Galveston and Galveston County, 21 items, 1851-1854.
48 Travis County, 7 items, 1860.



 

Series 4: Property inventories, circa 1850-1860

Box Folder
1 49 "List of Taxable property belonging to Gail Borden for 1st January 1852," 1852 May 19.
50 "Inventory of Lands belonging to Gail Borden Jr. 1st January 1855 in the State of Texas; with a statement of Debts for which they are held by Mortgage &c.," 1855 May 15.
51 “List of Property rendered by Gail Borden Esq. to Assessor and Collector of Galveston County, Texas for the taxes of the year 1845,” 1857 March 6.
52 "Inventory of property owned by Gail Borden, Jr. in the year 1844," 1857 April 22.
Box Folder
Oversize 1 “Inventory of Property owned by Gail Borden, Jr. in the year 1844...,” 1850s.



 

Series 5: Livestock records, 1833-1845 and undated

Box Folder
1 53 Receipt and inventories: cattle delivered by Gail Borden, Jr. to Francis Keller, 1833 October 23.
54 "Proposal to purchase Mrs. Hawleys cattle," 1844.
55 H. J. Offutt, certificate for counter-branded cow, 1845 September 26.
56 "Classification and scale of valuation for Cattle," undated.
57 Petition: Stockraisers to Mayor and Aldermen of Galveston, Texas, requesting regulations in the inspection of hides [draft], undated.



 

Series 6: Financial documents, 1844 and 1874

Box Folder
1 58 Receipt: O. H. Peters to R. Jones, executor of Wiley Martin, for pailing in grave, 1844 February 17.
59 Receipt: News Office, Galveston, Texas, to Gail Borden, Columbus, Texas, for subscription to the Galveston Daily News, 1874 June 5.



 

Series 7: Government and military records, 1835-1848

Box Folder
1 60 Circular: Steven F. Austin, "Circular from the Committee of Safety of the Jurisdiction of Austin," 1835 September 19.
61 Broadside: "Telegraph Office," request for voluntary loans to the Texas government, 1836 March 5.
62 Report: Thomas Jefferson Rusk, San Jacinto, Texas, to David G. Burnet, report of the Battle of San Jacinto, 1836 April 22.
63 Broadside: "Report; to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the State of Texas," 1848 January 24.



 

Series 8: Meat biscuit promotional material, circa 1851-1855

Box Folder
1 64 Pamphlet: J. T. Morton on Borden's Patent Meat Biscuit, circa 1851.
65 Pamphlet: The Meat Biscuit, Invented, Patented and Manufactured by Gail Borden, Jun. London: Patent Journal Printing Office, circa 1851.
66 Flyer: J. T. Morton, London, directions for cooking Borden's Patent Meat Biscuit, circa 1851.
67 Pamphlet: Directions for Cooking Borden's Meat Biscuit/Instructions pour Cuire ou Apprêter le Biscuit-Viande de Borden. New York: D. Fanshaw, 1855.



 

Series 9: Collected printed material, 1922 and 1956

Box Folder
1 68 Clipping: "San Jacinto Day Recalls Gail Borden," 1922 April 23.
69 Pamphlet: Leonard M. Fanning, Gail Borden: Father of the Modern Dairy Industry. New York: Mercer Publishing Co., 1956.



 

Series 10: Separated land patents, 1841-1847

Collection Folder
Land Patent Collection Land Patent: Republic of Texas to Gail Borden, Jr., 49.74 acres, Galveston Island, 1841 August 19.
Land Patent: Republic of Texas to Gail Borden, Jr., 1/3 league, Bexar County, Texas, 1846 February 18.
Land Patent: State of Texas to James G. Burnham, assignee of John Holliday, 1280 acres, Bexar County, Texas, Bounty, 1847 July 3.
Land Patent: State of Texas to Samuel Slater, assignee of Henry Martin, 640 acres, Bounty, 1847 July 3.