Gail Borden

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Gail Borden

Telegraph & Texas Register

Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Texas pioneer surveyor and cartographer Gail Borden (1801-1874) cofounded the Telegraph & Texas Register in 1835 in San Felipe de Austin, headquarters for impresario Stephen F. Austin’s fledgling colony.

Borden produced his newspaper on a hand-turned Washington Press, spreading the news of the colonists’ early battles in the break with Mexico in 1835 and calling for volunteers to report to garrisons in Gonzales and San Antonio.

Colonial delegates met in Washingtonon- the-Brazos and produced a declaration of independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836. Borden published news of the declaration on March 5 and published Texian commander William Barrett Travis’s iconic letter “To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World,” written at the Alamo.

Borden published an account of the Battle of the Alamo (Feb. 23 to March 6). After the battle, Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his forces moved eastward to vanquish the colonial uprising. As Santa Anna’s cavalry approached San Felipe, Borden loaded his press and type cases on wagons and joined in The Runaway Scrape.

Borden set up his press on Buffalo Bayou and was printing the April 14 edition as Mexican forces closed in. The edition carried an appeal from David G. Burnet, president of the Republic of Texas, informing fellow citizens that “your country demands your aid.” Borden was captured and the press, after four copies of the edition were printed, was broken up and dumped in the bayou. Those four editions fell into partisan hands and volunteers flocked to join General Sam Houston’s army, which defeated Santa Anna’s army at San Jacinto on April 21, bringing a successful end to the Texas Revolution.

Borden was released, and with his brother, John Borden, he acquired another press and continued publishing the Telegraph & Texas Register until 1837. That year, President Sam Houston appointed Borden to the Republic of Texas Collector of Customs at Galveston.

Borden went on to become an inventor and entrepreneur. The most famous of his inventions was canned, condensed milk. Borden County in West Texas, and its county seat, Gail, were named in his honor.