Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »

BORDEN, THOMAS HENRY

Joe B. Frantz

BORDEN, THOMAS HENRY (1804–1877). Thomas Henry Borden, early settler, soldier, and inventor, son of Gail and Philadelphia (Wheeler) Borden, Sr., was born in Norwich, New York, on January 28, 1804. After a boyhood in New York, Kentucky, and Indiana, he joined Stephen F. Austin's colony in Texas in 1824 as one of the Old Three Hundred. In 1830 he was Austin's official surveyor, a post he later resigned in favor of his brother, Gail Borden, Jr. In 1833 T. H. Borden was farming near Tenoxtitlán, but by 1835 he had moved to Fort Bend.

During November and December 1835 he participated with the Texas army in the Grass Fight and the siege of Bexar under Benjamin R. Milam. In October 1835 he helped Gail Borden and Joseph Baker found the Telegraph and Texas Register. He remained with that paper until March 14, 1837, when he sold his interest to Dr. Francis Moore, Jr. In October 1836 Borden helped lay out the city of Houston, and the following year he entered the real estate business in Columbia, sometimes in partnership with Erastus (Deaf) Smith and sometimes with Robert D. Johnson.qqv He was active in founding the town of Richmond, and as late as 1873 still owned much land in Fort Bend and Brazoria counties.

In 1840 Borden was living in Galveston, engaged principally in surveying and butchering. He constructed the first windmill on Galveston Island and ran it in combination with the first local gristmill. At his home the first Baptist church in Galveston was organized, on January 30, 1840. Like his brother Gail he had a gift for invention; he is sometimes credited with inventing the terraqueous machine often attributed to his brother. In Galveston he invented a steam gauge, or manometer, for use on river steamboats. In 1849 he moved to New Orleans, where he had an excellent business. According to tradition, he did not believe in the principle of patents; so other gauge manufacturers patented his product and eliminated him from competition.

On June 4, 1829, Borden married Demis Woodword, who bore him two sons before her death in Houston on September 16, 1836. He married Louisa R. Graves of New York in 1838. Loss of his steam-gauge business, Civil War losses, and the protracted illness of his wife reduced Borden to comparative poverty in the late 1860s and necessitated his moving back to Galveston, where he died on March 16, 1877.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Joe B. Frantz, Gail Borden: Dairyman to a Nation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951). Galveston Daily News, March 17, 1877. Hattie Borden Weld, Historical and Genealogical Record of the Borden Family (Los Angeles, 1899?).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Joe B. Frantz, "BORDEN, THOMAS HENRY," accessed September 18, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbo27.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...