The Borden name stands as a synonym for all that has gone to make Fall River the busy industrial and commercial point it is today. Generation after generation for two hundred and seventy years and more have lived and wrought well through that part of Rhode Island and Massachusetts lying adjacent to each other in the section indicated and been foremost in the various lines of effort and public affairs that have conspired to build up the section in the great Commonwealths. The lineage of the American ancestor of this Borden family has been traced back many generations in English history. His English forbear went over to England from Bourdonnay, Normandy, as a soldier of William the Conqueror, and after the battle of Hastings, A. D. 1066, was assigned lands in the County of Kent, where the family afterward became useful, wealthy and influential, the village where they resided being named Borden. One John Borden, of a later generation, moved to Wales early in the seventeenth century, where his sons Richard and John were married. These sons returned to Borden, in England, and in May, 1635, embarked for America.
Richard Borden Family of Portsmouth and Rochester RI
Richard Borden is found a settler in Portsmouth, R. I. in 1638, in which year he was admitted an inhabitant of the island of Aquidneck, and in that same year was allotted five acres of land. He figured in the surveying and platting of lands thereabout in 1639, and in the year following was one of those appointed to lay out the lands in Portsmouth, R. I. He was assistant in 1653-54; general treasurer in 1654-55; commissioner in 1654-55-56-57; and deputy in 1667 and 1670. He bought land in Providence in 1661 and not far from 1667 became one of the original purchasers of land in New Jersey from the Indians. He died May 25, 1671. Joan, his wife, died July 15, 1688. Their children were:
- Thomas, of Portsmouth, R. I., and Providence, R. I.
- Francis, of Portsmouth, R. I., and Shrewsbury, N. J.
- Matthew, of Portsmouth, R. I.
- John, born in Portsmouth
- Joseph, of Portsmouth, R. I., and Barbadoes, West Indies
- Samuel, of Portsmouth, R. I., and Westchester, N. Y.
- Benjamin, of Portsmouth, R. I., and Burlington County, N. J.
There lived at and figured prominently in the affairs of Fall River for many years and was one of the city’s most useful citizens the late Cook Borden, who most worthily wore the Borden name and sustained the family reputation, and has been followed by sons who carried forward the work he began and left, and who have been or are now active and influential in the city’s affairs – substantial men of the community. The generations from the emigrant ancestor follow somewhat in detail.
John Borden Family of Portsmouth Rhode Island
John Borden, born in September, 1640, married Dec. 25, 1670, Mary, born in 1655, daughter of William and Mary (Walker) Earle, and was of Portsmouth, R. I. Like his father he was prominent in the public affairs of the town, having been deputy in 1673, 1680, 1700, 1704, 1705 and 1708. He died June 4, 1716, and his wife in June, 1734. Their children were:
Richard Borden Family of Fall River Massachusetts
Richard Borden (2), born Oct. 25, 1671, married about 1692 Innocent Wardell. He lived on the main road about a mile from the east shore of Mount Hope Bay and two and a half miles south of the city hall in Fall River, his homestead comprising about two hundred acres of land. He became one of the wealthiest men in the town and at the time of his death was one of the largest landholders in the town. He lived until about the age of sixty years. His children were:
Thomas Borden Family of Fall River Massachusetts
Thomas Borden, born Dec. 8, 1697, married Aug. 14, 1721, Mary, born Oct. 6, 1695, daughter of Christopher and Meribah Gifford. Mr. Borden died in April, 1740, in Tiverton, R. I. Their children were:
- Richard, born in 1622
- Christopher, born Oct. 10, 1726
Richard Borden Family of Fall River Massachusetts
Richard Borden (3), born in 1722, married March 12, 1747, Hope Cook. His father owned that part of Fall River stream which lay below the great falls on the south side of the stream, and the land adjoining down to the salt water, besides other landed estate which he gave to Richard with other outside lots. This portion of the stream was the site of the sawmill first erected by Caleb Church, of Watertown, who purchased of the original proprietors of the Pocasset purchase thirteen shares of the mill lot and stream. Mr. Church sold these thirteen shares of mill lot with one half of the sawmill to his brother, Benjamin Church; both were purchasing mill rights at the time, and had secured twenty-six and a half thirtieths of the mill lot and stream, which in 1714 they sold to Richard and Joseph Borden, who had secured the balance. The property had been occupied during his lifetime by Thomas Borden and was transmitted to his son Richard. Richard Borden was a man of ordinary abilities, but placed the prospective value of this property high. He was accustomed to tell his neighbors that the time would come when all the dams on the stream would be sought after by men who would have the money to pay a great price for them. Time has shown that he had a just appreciation of the prospective value of Fall River. During the Revolution the British landed a force at Fall River, burned the sawmill belonging to Mr. Borden and a large quantity of lumber which was owned by his two sons, Thomas and Richard, who operated the mill on their own account. Mr. Borden, Capt. Benjamin Borden and John Negus were taken prisoners by the British, and they fired Mr. Borden’s dwelling-house. Mr. Borden died July 4, 1795. His children were:
- Patience, born Aug. 9, 1747
- Thomas, born in 1750
- Richard, born in 1752
Richard Borden Genealogy of Fall River Massachusetts
Richard Borden (4), born in 1752, married Patty Bowen. He and his brother Thomas operated the sawmill owned by their father, which is referred to as having been burned during the Revolution by the British, with much lumber belonging to the sons. The children of Richard and Patty (Bowen) Borden were:
- Abraham B., born July 8, 1798
- Amy, born Feb. 11, 1802, who married (first) William Grinnell and (second) Jeremiah Wilcox
- Hannah, born Dec. 5, 1803, who married Nov. 24, 1824, William Cook, and died Sept. 28, 1891
- Richard, born Dec. 22, 1805
- Rowena, born Feb. 8, 1808, who died March 14, 1835
- Cook, born Jam 18, 1810
- Lodowick, born. March 14, 1812
- Zephaniah, born July 18, 1814
- Andrew, born Dec. 28, 1816, who died when young
Cook Borden Family of Fall River Massachusetts
Cook Borden, son of Richard and Patty (Bowen) Borden, was born Jan. 18, 1810, in that part of Tiverton, R. I., which later became Fall River, Mass. His boyhood was passed in a manner not unlike that of the usual lad. His father died when he was eighteen, and the first money he had was procured by his own labor. He worked for several years for Messrs. Frost & Gurney, the original lumber dealers of Fall River. When starting out in business for himself he sold the portion of the farm left him by his father situated west of Main street for a sum not exceeding $1,200, and this was all the capital he had, except what he made for himself. He commenced the lumber business for himself near Lindsey’s wharf, on lands now occupied by the new freight depot of the Old Colony Railroad Company. His business grew to be large and profitable, and in 1846 he bought Bowenville, and removed his yard to the site it occupied at the time of his death. He had associated with him in business as partner for ‘many years from the beginning Mr. William Cogswell, cashier of the old Union Bank, and he had other partners, until at last his sons, who had grown up in the business, took their places by his side, and they have carried on the business since his death, the style of the firm, Cook Borden & Co., remaining unchanged. For a period Mr. Borden also engaged in lumber operations in western Pennsylvania and at the same time carried on his business in Fall River.
Mr. Borden was a business man rather than a politician. He was a self-made man, and rose to the prominence which he attained chiefly by his own exertions. The weight of his character gave him position and respectability, although few men have been able to look back to a nobler line of ancestors. Few men have better illustrated the dignity of labor or the value of economy in early manhood. About the time of his marriage (1832) he built a residence on his estate in Tiverton, where he passed the remainder of his life and where his widow and son Jerome remained for some years after his death. By the change in boundary line it has since come into Fall River. Before the change Mr. Borden held the office of assessor in the town, and represented it one term in the Legislature.
On Jan. 1, 1832, Mr. Borden married Mary A. Bessey, a native of Fall River, born Aug. 19, 1810, daughter of Silas and Avis (Borden) Bessey. She survived him, dying Oct. 6, 1894. They had children as follows:
- Mary J., born May 10, 1833, died Oct. 10, 1833
- Mary J. (2), born Sept. 1, 1834, married May 1, 1853, Dr. James W. Hartley, and lives in Fall River (they have had four children:
- Edward M., born Jan. 26, 1854, who married Mary P. Pierce and resides in Fall River
- Richard C. B., born Dec. 16, 1856, who died abroad, at Vienna, May 30, 1881
- Philip A., born June 20, 1859, now of Chestnut Hill, Mass., who married Minnie Borden and has two children
- Richard C. B., born March 12, 1892
- Arthur H., born Dec. 18, 1897
- Grace, born Nov. 9, 1874, who married Louis McHenry Howe, of Saratoga Springs, N. Y., and has one daughter
- Mary, born June 4, 1900
- Theodore W., born Aug. 25, 1836, married June 10, 1859, Mary L. Davol
- Avis A., born Sept. 14, 1838, died Sept. 19, 1839
- Philip H. is mentioned below
- Jerome C, born Oct. 5, 1843, died May 1, 1844
- Jerome C. (2), born Sept. 30, 1845, married June 28, 1870, Emma E. Tetlow, daughter of John and Mary Tetlow
Mr. Borden died Sept. 20, 1880, at his home in Fall River, Mass., when in the seventy-first year of his age. From published notices of this event at the time the following is selected:
“Mr. Borden from his birth, which occurred in this city in 1810, by his long business life and close association with the varied industries of the city, was as intimately connected with Fall River, its peculiarities and aspirations, as a man could well be. Belated by ties of blood to most of our old families, and acquainted by business associations with almost everybody in the city who had connections with our manufacturing and mercantile interests, he was one of the best known of our prominent men. His acquaintance was confined to no one class; the operative, the laborer, the mechanic, the fisherman, the tradesman, the manufacturer, the professional man, the clergyman, all knew him; and in his long, large list of acquaintances there was not one that did not know him to respect him. Naturally reserved and reticent, he was better known upon closer acquaintance. There was nothing about him flashy or eager; he was solid, conservative, steady.
“Mr. Borden was not selfish or avaricious. Many a man now lives in Fall River who has tested his kindness of heart and willingness to help one who was trying honorably to help himself. He was also a man of deep religious convictions, and for many years had been a consistent and earnest member of the First Baptist Church of Fall River. He was always to be found in his seat on Sundays in the days of his health, and never tired in service or in giving. He was one of the largest contributors to his church and other religious agencies.
“Mr. Borden was fond of out-of-door sports, especially of fishing. He knew all about our coast and the best fishing-grounds. He was almost an authority on these matters. In pleasant weather he delighted to be on the water, and was an expert in the use of the fishing-line.
“He always applied himself to business, and his life was one of labor and constant application. In his large lumber business, one of the best-known establishments of the kind in this part of New England, he has lately been associated with his three sons. The business grew from a modest beginning into large dimensions. He had held a long list of offices of trust, and his death will leave many vacancies to be filled. He was president of the Union National Bank, a member of the board of investment of the Union Savings Bank, a director in the Chace, Richard Borden and Tecumseh Mills.
“His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This is a man.’ “
Phillip Borden Family of Fall River Massachusetts
Philip H. Borden, son of Cook and Mary A. (Bessey) Borden, was born June 8, 1841, in that part of Tiverton that has since become Fall River. His education was acquired in Fall River and Andover, Mass., in which latter place he attended Phillips Academy. He grew up in the lumber business established by his father in Fall River, becoming with his brothers associated with his father and succeeding to the business after the death of the latter. The business of Cook Borden & Co. was carried on for several years by the sons of Mr. Cook Borden, and then Theodore W. and Jerome C. Borden withdrew, Philip H. Borden continuing to carry it on at the old stand some years, until he sold out to Jerome C. Philip H. Borden for a period of about two years was not engaged in active business, and during this time, accompanied by Mrs. Borden, spent considerable time in travel, of which he was very fond; in the course of his life, he traveled in various parts of the United States and Europe, visiting nine of the principal European countries. When he again resumed business he engaged alone in the lumber trade, on Rodman street, this being his sole occupation up to a few years before he died. He was at one time a director of the Fall River National Bank. He filled a large place for many years in the business and public life of Fall River. He was a member of the board of aldermen in 1875, 1878 and 1879, and was the Republican nominee for mayor in 1892 but failed of election that Democratic year. He was a member of the First Congregational Church. Mr. Borden died Feb. 2, 1902, aged sixty years, seven months, twenty-five days.
On Oct. 8, 1861, Mr. Borden was married (first) to Ruth A. Dennis, of Fall River, who died after some years, and he married (second) June 12, 1883, Mrs. Bethana B. Brown, daughter of Nathaniel and Bethana (Brightman) Pearce and granddaughter of Col. Joseph and Ann (Hillard) Pearce, of Little Compton, R. I. Mrs. Borden, who survives her husband, resides on June street.
Socially Mr. Borden was a high Mason, a member of King Philip Lodge, A. F. & A. M., Fall River Royal Arch Chapter, Godfrey de Bouillon Commandery, and Aleppo Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., of Boston. Like his father he was a man of generous disposition and broad sympathies, large-hearted, and did many good deeds of which the public knew nothing. He had an artistic temperament, a keen appreciation of all that was beautiful and a high estimation of things of historic interest, and travel with its incident attractions appealed to him and ministered greatly to his pleasure. At such times he banished the cares of business completely and was a most delightful companion.