This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture, and education.
Gail Borden Jr. was undaunted by failure. In the 1840s he built a wagon meant to travel on land and water but did neither successfully. His nutritional biscuits made from dehydrated meat and flour were unpalatable. Yet Borden kept at it. In the 1850s, he developed a way to condense milk—and this time, succeeded on a grand scale.
Born in New York in 1801, Borden moved to Texas in his late twenties. He became the official surveyor for Stephen F. Austin’s colony and prepared the first topographical map of Texas.
In 1835, he began publishing a newspaper. He also served as the first customs collector for the port of Galveston. For several years, he sold lots on Galveston Island.
In the 1840s, Borden turned to inventing. He returned to New York to promote his meat biscuits. But it was his patented process for condensing milk that won the day. He opened several factories in the Northeast. Increased demand during the Civil War boosted sales. Borden’s invention soon turned the localized dairy business into a national industry.
Borden returned to Texas after the Civil War and became a generous benefactor of local schools and churches. He died in 1874 in the small Central Texas town that now bears his name.
More information about Gail Borden Jr. and other Texas Originals is available at Texasoriginals.org. This program is produced by KUHF Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.