Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Borden, Gail

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

BORDEN, Gail, inventor, b. in Norwich, N. Y., 6 Nov., 1801; d. in Borden, Texas, 11 Jan., 1874. His parents were of New England descent, and in 1814 they emigrated from New York, settling in Covington, Ky., and later in Madison, then in the territory of Indiana. In 1822, finding his health impaired, he removed to Mississippi, where he taught, and also filled the positions of county surveyor and U. S. deputy surveyor. In 1829 he went to Texas. He was elected delegate to the convention that, in 1833, petitioned the Mexican government for separation, and he was also in charge of the official surveys of the colony, compiling the first topographical map of Texas. The land office at San Felipe was under his charge up to the time of the Mexican invasion. In 1835, with his brother, Thomas H., he established the “Telegraph and Texas Land Register” at San Felipe, which was afterward transferred to Houston, and was the first and only newspaper published in Texas during the war for the independence of that colony. After the establishment of the republic of Texas he was appointed by President Houston first collector of the port of Galveston. That city in 1837 had not been laid out, and its first surveys were made by him. From 1839 till 1857 he was agent of the Galveston city company, a corporation owning several thousand acres of land on which the city is now built. About 1849 his attention was drawn to the need of more suitable supplies for emigrants crossing the plains, and after some experimenting he produced the “pemmican,” which Dr. Kane carried with him on his Arctic expedition. The “meat biscuit,” the most simple, economical, and efficient form of portable concentrated food, was invented by him. This article gained for him the “great council medal” at the world's fair, London, 1852, and he was elected an honorary member of the London Society of Arts. Meeting with opposition from the army contractors, he was unsuccessful in the manufacture of his biscuit, and lost his entire means. He then removed to the north and turned his attention to the preservation of milk, and in 1853 applied for a patent for “producing concentrated sweet milk by evaporation in vacuo, the same having no sugar or other foreign matter mixed with it,” but failed of securing it until 1856. Later, the New York Condensed Milk Company was formed, and works were established at Brewster's station, N. Y., and at Elgin, Ill. During the civil war his condensed milk was extensively used in the army and navy. Condensed meat-juices were then experimented upon, and he produced an extract of beef of superior quality, which at first he made in Elgin, but afterward established his factory at Borden, Texas. Later, he produced excellent preparations of condensed tea, coffee, and cocoa, and in 1862 patented a process by means of which the juice of fruit — such as apples, currants, and grapes — could be reduced to one seventh of its original bulk. Mr. Borden acquired great wealth from his patents, and was very liberal in the use of his money.