Biography of John G. Borden
Orange County, NY Biographies





JOHN GAIL BORDEN, the youngest son of the late Gail Borden, who was famous as an inventor and public benefactor, was born in Galveston, Texas, January 4, 1844. Coming North when but a lad of thirteen, he entered one of the Brooklyn public schools, and later attended the Winchester Academy in Winchester Center, Conn., where he remained for two years. From the time when he left the academy until he entered a business college, young Borden assisted his father in establishing the condensed milk business, then in its infancy.

The call for volunteers in 1861 interrupted the business college course, and Mr. Borden, then but nineteen years of age, enlisted at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., under Colonel (the late General) John Henry Ketcham, in the 150th N. Y. Volunteers, serving in his regiment for two years and a half, and attaining the rank of second lieutenant during that time. Just before his regiment started for the front, the young patriot presented himself for baptism and membership in the Armenia, N. Y., Baptist Church, and in the years following gave every evidence of a consistent Christian life.

His service in the "150th" was terminated by a serious illness, caused by the severe strain and exposure of army life, and Mr. Borden was compelled to return to his home for rest and recuperation. When sufficiently recovered, he was transferred to the 47th N. Y. Volunteers, and remained with that regiment until the close of the war. Returning to his home in Brewsters, N. Y., Mr. Borden became actively identified with the Borden Condensed Milk Co., and upon the death of his father, in 1874, succeeded him as its president.

During his connection with the company, he made many valuable improvements in the methods of manufacturing condensed milk, and otherwise firmly established the reputation of the Borden Condensed Milk Co.

Removing in 1881 from Brewsters to Wallkill, N. Y., he purchased the property known as the "John P. Andrews farm," comprising about two hundred acres, and by acquiring adjacent lands from time to time, the "Borden Home Farm" was made to cover an area of some fifteen hundred acres. Most, if not all, of this property was a part of an original grant 'of land deeded by Queen Anne, in 1709, to "her true and loving subjects." Here Mr. Borden built a large condensery for the Borden Condensed Milk Co., continuing the management of the business until 1884, when failing health compelled him to retire from an active business life. From that time until his death, Mr. Borden gave his whole attention to the improving and beautifying of his "Home Farm," trying, as he expressed it, to "make two blades of grass grow where but one grew before." With all the improvements made upon the farm, he did not indulge in what is known as "fancy farming," but aimed rather to make his improvements on a practical basis, furnishing object lessons which any energetic farmer might easily put into practice.

In politics Mr. Borden was a staunch Republican, firmly believing in every' citizen taking an active part in the politics of his town, and conscientiously performing his duty at the primaries and the polls.

Mr. Borden's patriotism increased with years, and he was one, if not the first, of the pioneers who labored to impress upon the minds of the children a strong love for country and "the Stars and Stripes," and each Decoration Day he 'presented to every child in the public schools in his vicinity, a small American flag; continuing this practice until his death. Among Mr. Borden's characteristics, none were stronger than his devotion to home and eountry. Courtesy and gentleness were also marked characteristics with him, and his hat was removed as quickly for a little girl as for a lady. He was a true disciple of, the "gospel of labor," and one of his unwritten mottoes was, that "what was worth doing at all was worth doing well," which rule was followed out in all his undertakings. He worked incessantly and was old before his time. Mr. Borden died in October, 1891, at Ormond, Fla., where, as well as in the North, he left an enviable and lasting record of practical Christian living. He lived but forty seven years, a short life, but one so filled with work for God and humanity, that its value cannot be estimated by the number of years alone.

From:
The History of Orange County New York
Edited by: Russel Headley
Van Deusen and Elms, Publishers
Middletown, N. Y. 1908


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