Gail Borden
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Gail Borden (1801 - 1874)

Gail Borden
Born in Norwich, Chenango, New York, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 18 Mar 1828 in Amite, Mississippimap
Husband of — married 15 Feb 1845 in Galveston, Galveston County, Texas, USAmap
Husband of — married 16 Aug 1860 in Winsted, Litchfield, Connecticutmap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 72 in Borden, Colorado, Texas, United Statesmap
Problems/Questions Profile manager: Brian Collins private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 31 Mar 2009
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Notables Project
Gail Borden is Notable.

Gail Borden was born on November 9, 1801 in Norwich, New York, USA, the son of Gail Borden and Philadelphia (Wheeler) Borden.[1] Although he had only a little more than one year of formal schooling, he had a strong desire to find ways to improve daily life.

Gail married Penelope Mercer on March 18, 1828 in Amite, Mississippi. [2] Penelope and Gail had seven children in 15 years. They were:

  1. Mary Borden (1829-1833)
  2. Henry Lee Borden (1832-1902)
  3. Morton Quinn Borden (1834-1846)
  4. Philadelphia Wheeler Borden Johnson (1837-1880)
  5. Stephen F Austin Borden (1839-1844)
  6. Mary Jane Borden Munsill (1841-1912)
  7. John Gail Borden (1844-1891)

Penelope died as a young mother on September 5, 1844, in Galveston, Texas, at the age of 32. She and her her four year old son, Stephen F Austin, both died of yellow fever. They were buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA.[3]

Gail remarried in Galveston on 15 February 1845 to Augusta Stearns.[4] On 16 August 1860 he married Emeline Eunice (Mrs. Hiram Church, nee Eno) in Connecticut.[5] [6]

Gail started off his career in print. He created Texas' first permanent newspaper in October 1835, the "Telegraph and Texas Register". His paper was the first to report the fall of the Alamo on March 17, 1836.

Gail held many jobs during his lifetime. He was a teacher, a soldier, a surveyor, a tax collector, and a missionary. He considered himself mostly an inventor. As an inventor, Gail was not immediately successful. He was thought of as a wacky inventor. He made a machine that was part wagon and part sailboat. He called it the "terraqueous machine." He also designed a giant refrigerator that he hoped would help people recover from yellow fever. In addition, removed the water from 100 pounds (45 kg) of beef and mixed it with flour to make meat biscuits.

In 1829 Borden moved to Texas and settled on Galveston Island. There he built one of his first inventions, the "locomotive bathhouse." This movable bathhouse allowed women who wanted to take baths in the Gulf of Mexico to do so in private.

Borden witnessed children die aboard a steamship for lack of fresh milk and was determined to find a way to keep milk from spoiling. Borden applied for a patent on his most important invention in 1853. He had developed a way to condense, or thicken, milk by heating it in a vacuum pan. At the time, it was difficult to keep milk fresh for more than a few days. With Borden's invention, milk could now be stored for long periods of time without being refrigerated. Unlike fresh milk, condensed milk could be shipped across the United States and to other countries.

Gail opened two factories but failed until he obtained financial backing from a wealthy investor, He invention was finally made in 1856 after receiving his patents from America and Britain. This then led to the establishment of the company known as Borden, Inc. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the United States government began to buy condensed milk for its troops. This contributed to rapid success and production could not keep up with demand despite his three factories in Connecticut, New York, and Illinois.

Gail died in 1874 in Borden, Colorado County, Texas. The company continued into the 20th and 21st century. In 1938, Elsie the Borden Cow became an advertising icon for the company. Borden's Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk is still sold today. It has been on the market for more than 145 years!

Improvement in Concentration of Milk Patent No. 15,553

Inducted 2006 Gail Borden, Jr.’s process for condensing milk offered the first way to preserve milk without refrigeration, and improved the diet of nineteenth century Americans. Condensed milk helped to change the dairy business from a local farmer-to-consumer business into a major industry.

Invention Impact

Anticipating the work of Louis Pasteur, Borden believed that protecting milk from airborne impurities would keep it from spoiling. He used a vacuum pan with a heating coil to vaporize the water from the milk without burning or souring it. Unequaled in purity at the time, the resulting condensed milk could be stored and shipped over long distances. During the Civil War, the Union Army ordered more of the milk than Borden’s factory could produce. Word of its advantages quickly spread to the public and the milk industry flourished.


Borden County, Texas is named in his honor. The hybrid tea rose, Gail Borden, is also named in his honor.


  1. Wikipedia Gail Borden, (accessed February 5, 2016).
  2. Mississippi Marriages, 1800-1911,database, FamilySearch (accessed 17 March 2016), Gail Borden and Penelope Mercer, 18 Mar 1828; citing Amite,Mississippi; FHL microfilm 864,487.
  3. Find A Grave Penelope Mercer, Memorial# 130771662
  4., [1], Texas marriages.
  5., [2], Connecticut Marriages.
  6. Joe B. Frantz, Gail Borden: Dairyman to a Nation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951). Hattie Borden Weld, Historical and Genealogical Record of the Borden Family (Los Angeles, 1899?). Clarence R. Wharton, Gail Borden, Pioneer (San Antonio: Naylor, 1941).

See also:

  • Joe B. Frantz, Gail Borden: Dairyman to a Nation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951). Hattie Borden Weld, Historical and Genealogical Record of the Borden Family (Los Angeles, 1899?). Clarence R. Wharton, Gail Borden, Pioneer (San Antonio: Naylor, 1941).

Indexed Information
Name: G. Borden Jr.
Spouse's Name: A. J. Stearns
Event Date: 15 Feb 1845
Event Place: , Galveston, Texas
Citation: "Texas Marriages, 1837-1973," database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2018), G. Borden Jr. and A. J. Stearns, 15 Feb 1845; citing , Galveston, Texas, , reference ; FHL microfilm 1,008,865.

  • Gail Borden Jr., "Connecticut Marriages, 1630-1997"

Indexed Information
Name: Gail Borden Jr.
Event Type: Marriage
Event Date: 16 Aug 1860
Event Place: , Winsted, Connecticut, United States
Gender: Male
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: [Mrs.] Hiram Church
Spouse's Gender: Female
Citation: "Connecticut Marriages, 1630-1997", database, FamilySearch ( : 17 March 2018), Gail Borden Jr. and [Mrs.] Hiram Church, 1860.

  • Gail Borden Memorial, "Find A Grave Index"

Indexed information
Name: Gail Borden
Event Type: Burial
Event Date: 1874
Event Place: Bronx, Bronx, New York, United States of America
Photograph Included: Yes
Birth Date: 09 Nov 1801
Death Date: 11 Jan 1874
Affiliate Record Identifier: 6854411
Cemetery: Woodlawn Cemetery
"Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2015), Gail Borden, 1874; Burial, Bronx, Bronx, New York, United States of America, Woodlawn Cemetery; citing record ID 6854411, Find a Grave,

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Gail Borden, from Texas, was the inventor of condensed milk.
posted 2 Mar 2012 by Brian Collins   [thank Brian]
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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Gail by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Gail:

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Comments: 6

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Paula is right, a fantastic profile on a Brilliant caring man
posted by [Living Daly]
The Borden family was huge in the history of the Republic and State of Texas. Yes, connecting brothers would be worthwhile
posted by Steve Lake
This fellow's brother's brothers seem to have a significant history of their own. I would add them if you get time.
posted by Paula J
I am going to have Eric program a nice framed box for the part at the bottom about his patent and its impact.

This is a wonderful profile! What an excellent job you all have done!

posted by Paula J
I will add in the other bio details as soon as I get to my laptop
posted by Paula J
Borden-1 and Borden-216 appear to represent the same person because: They are the same person. I am getting ready to add Philadelphia Wheeler Borden as his daughter with Penelope Mercer as his 1st wife and her mother. I don't know which Gail Borden to select. My research is that he died 11 Jan 1874 in Borden, Colorado, Texas. I am new at this so I'm not sure how to go about a merge. I have a lot of sources and other info (his 8 children) to add to him. He is my ggg grandfather. Thanks for any help, Lucy
posted by Lucy (Wrenn) Hermes