American Printing Company 1910 Illustration

Descendants of Richard Borden of Fall River MA

The Borden family is an ancient one both here in New England and over the water in old England, as well as one of historic interest and distinction. The New England branch has directly or indirectly traced the lineage of the American ancestor, Richard Borden, many generations back in English history. His first English forbear went over to England from Bourdonnay, Normandy, as a soldier under 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, early in the seventeenth century, moved to Wales, where his sons Richard and John were married. These sons returned to Borden, in England, and in May, 1635, embarked for America.

(I) 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 the 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 was 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:

  1. Thomas Borden, of Portsmouth, R. I., and Providence, R. I.
  2. Francis Borden, of Portsmouth, R. I., and Shrewsbury, N. J.
  3. Matthew Borden, of Portsmouth, R. I.; born in May, 1638, as the Friends’ records declare, was the “first English child born in Rhode Island.”
  4. John Borden, born in Portsmouth
  5. Joseph Borden, of Portsmouth, R. I., and Barbadoes, West Indies
  6. Sarah Borden
  7. Samuel Borden, of Portsmouth, R. I., and Westchester, N. Y.
  8. Benjamin Borden, of Portsmouth, R. I., and Burlington county, N. J.
  9. Amey Borden
  10. Mary Borden

(II) The fourth son of Richard and Joan Borden was John Borden, from whom the Bordens under consideration in this article descend, became quite famous among the Friends throughout the country as John Borden of Quaker Hill on Rhode Island. He was born in September, 1640, and in December, 1670, was married to Mary Earle, and they made their home in Portsmouth. They died, Mr. Borden in 1716, and Mrs. Borden in 1734. Their children were:

  1. Richard Borden
  2. John Borden
  3. Amey Borden
  4. Joseph Borden
  5. Thomas Borden
  6. Mary Borden
  7. Hope Borden
  8. William Borden
  9. Benjamin Borden

This John Borden was deputy in 1673, 1680, 1700, 1704, 1705 and 1708, became a very extensive landowner, and settled his sons Richard and Joseph near the Fall river stream; and for many years the Borden family owned large portions of the land and water power in Fall River, Mass., and are still among the largest owners of land and manufactories in that city. When Fall River became a town, in 1803, it contained eighteen families, nine of these being Bordens.

(III) Richard Borden (2), son of John, 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 there. He lived to about the age of sixty years. His children were:

  1. Sarah Borden
  2. John Borden
  3. Thomas Borden
  4. Mary Borden
  5. Joseph Borden
  6. Samuel Borden
  7. Rebecca Borden

(IV) Thomas Borden, born Dec. 8, 1697, married Aug. 14, 1721, Mary, born Oct. 6, 1695, daughter of Christopher and Meribah Gifford. Their children were:

  1. Richard Borden, born in 1722
  2. Christopher Borden, born Oct. 10, 1726
  3. Deborah Borden
  4. Mary Borden
  5. Rebecca Borden

Mr. Borden died in April, 1740, in Tiverton, Rhode Island.

(V) 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, who fired Mr. Borden’s dwelling-house. Mr. Borden died July 4, 1795. His children were:

  1. Patience Borden, born Aug. 9, 1747
  2. Thomas Borden, born in 1749
  3. Richard Borden, born in 1752, married Martha Bowen and had:
    1. Andrew Jackson Borden, born in 1892, he married Sarah Anthony Morse. Sarah died in 1845. Andrew married second Abby Durfee Gray. Both Andrew and Abby were murdered on 4 Aug. 1892. Their daughter Elizabeth “Lizzie” Borden was charged but later acquitted of the murders. The case was never solved. This is that famous ax murder case that so many books have been written about…
  4. Hope Borden
  5. Betsey Borden
  6. Mary Borden

(VI) Thomas Borden, born Oct. 26, 1749, married Mary Hathaway, born Nov. 21, 1757, and they lived in Fall River, Mass., where Mr. Borden died Nov. 29, 1831; and Mrs. Borden in 1824. Their children were:

  1. Joseph Borden, born Nov. 16, 1777
  2. Phoebe Borden, Dec. 22, 1779
  3. William Borden, Dec. 28, 1781
  4. Isaac H. Borden, March 7, 1784
  5. Thomas Borden, Feb. 6, 1786
  6. Sarah Borden, March 9, 1788
  7. Hope Borden, Oct. 28, 1790
  8. Irene Borden, June 4, 1793
  9. Richard Borden, April 12, 1795
  10. Mary Borden, April 7, 1797
  11. John Borden, Feb. 5, 1799
  12. Jefferson Borden, Feb. 28, 1801
  13. Maritta Borden, Sept. 2, 1803
Richard Borden
Richard Borden

(VII) Col. Richard Borden, born April 12, 1795, in Fall River, Mass., son of Thomas and Mary (Hathaway) Borden, spent his early years after leaving school on his father’s farm. During 1812-20 he had a gristmill at the last fall, near the mouth of the river. He also combined the occupations of mariner and ship-builder with that of miller. After the war of 1812, in which young Borden had enlisted, entering as a private, and subsequently becoming successively ensign, lieutenant, captain, lieutenant colonel and colonel, he was engaged with Maj. Bradford Durfee in the construction of coasting vessels, and after their day’s labor was over on these they worked in a neighboring blacksmith’s shop on the iron work for the vessels. They launched from their shipyard about one vessel a year, of from twenty to seventy-five tons burden. The work of the blacksmith’s shop gradually developed into a good business in the manufacture of spikes, bars, rods and other articles, which was the beginning of the Fall River Iron Works Company, and which has been the source of the capital for the development of many of the most important industries of Fall River. The demand for the products of their shop was what suggested the establishment of the ironworks. They formed a company with Holder Borden and David Anthony, of Fall River, William Valentine and Joseph Butler, of Providence, and Abraham and Isaac Wilkinson, of Pawtucket, each contributing $3,000, making a capital of $24,000, which was soon reduced, however, to $18,000 by the withdrawal of the two Wilkinsons. At first hoop-iron was the principal production; then the manufacture of bar-iron of various sizes was begun and two nail-making machines set up, the heading of the best quality of nails having been up to that time hand work. As the business rapidly increased, the shops were enlarged and new branches of production were added. They were the first makers of iron wire for the manufacture of wood screws in this country. The Fall River Iron Works Company, which was organized in 1821, was incorporated in 1825 with a capital of $200,000. In 1845 it was increased to $960,000. By 1849 the company owned about a mile of wharf frontage, making it one of the principal wharf properties in Fall River. The growth of the large and varied business from its small beginnings is largely due to Colonel Borden, who was its treasurer from the time of its organization until his death, for over fifty years.

The Old Colony railroad, which was originally chartered to run from Boston and Plymouth, owes its extension in the direction of Fall River and southeastern Massachusetts chiefly to Colonel Borden. He, with his brother Jefferson, also established the Fall River Steamboat Line (originally known as the Bay State Steamboat Company), in 1847, with a capital of $300,000.

Colonel Borden was director and president of the American Print Works, the American Linen Company, the Troy Cotton & Woolen Manufactory and the Richard Borden Manufacturing Company, and was a director of the Anawan Manufactory and Metacomet Mill. He was president and director of the Fall River National Bank; director, treasurer, agent and corporation clerk of the Fall River Iron Works Company; president of the Watuppa Reservoir Company; agent of the Fall River Furnace Company and director of the Fall River Gas Company. Of outside corporations, he was president of the Bay State Steamboat Company, the Providence Tool Company, the Cape Cod Railroad Company and the Borden Mining Company, and a director of the Old Colony Railroad Company.

Fall River Iron Works Company
Fall River Iron Works Company

Colonel Borden once served in Fall River as assessor and surveyor of highways, and was elected to the State Legislature as representative and senator. He was chosen Presidential elector in 1864; at the second election of Abraham Lincoln. He was a man of much patriotism, and he gave the soldiers’ monument and lot at the entrance of Oak Grove cemetery. The Richard Borden Post of the G. A. R. was named in his honor. Besides being prominent as a man of great energy and industry in business life he was distinguished for liberality to charitable and educational objects. On Feb. 21, 1828, Colonel Borden was married to Abby Walker Durfee, who was born March 22, 1798, at Pawtucket, R. I., and was brought to New Bedford at the age of nine months, coming to Fall River in 1815. She was a daughter of James and Sally (Walker) Durfee, he a direct descendant of Thomas Durfee, who is of record at Portsmouth, R. I., in 1664, some of whose descendants reached high position in Rhode Island, notably Hon. Thomas Durfee, Hon. Job Durfee and Hon. Thomas Durfee (2), grandfather, father and son, respectively, all of whom were on the Bench in the judiciary of the State, the first named as chief justice of the court of Common Pleas for Newport county, and the last two as chief justices of the Supreme court of Rhode Island; the lineage of James Durfee from the Portsmouth settler being through Benjamin Durfee and Thomas Durfee (2).

American Printing Company 1910 Illustration
A 1910 illustration of the American Printing Company

Mrs. Abby Walker (Durfee) Borden died Nov. 14, 1884, at her home in Fall River, Mass., surviving her husband over ten years, he dying at Fall River, Feb. 25, 1874. Their children were:

  1. Caroline Borden, born Sept. 20, 1829, is unmarried and resides in Boston.
  2. Thomas James Borden, born March 1, 1832, is mentioned below.
  3. Richard Baxter Borden, born Feb. 21, 1834, is mentioned below.
  4. Edward Payson Borden, born Feb. 12, 1836, resides in Philadelphia. He married Sept. 29, 1863, Margaret Lindsey Durfee, of Fall River, and has one son:
    1. Edward Shirley Borden.
  5. Capt. William Henry Harrison Borden, born Sept. 13, 1840, married Sept. 25, 1867, Fannie Ingram Bosworth, of Augusta, Maine. From his early boyhood he manifested great interest in everything relating to navigation, especially steam navigation, and made several voyages to Europe for the purpose of perfecting himself in this direction. During the Civil war he was in command of the steamers “Canonicus” and “State of Maine,” transporting troops on the James and Potomac rivers, on headquarters boat at Port Royal, and conveying wounded soldiers from City Point to Point Lookout and Washington. After the close of the Civil war he commanded the “State of Maine” on the Stonington Line, and the “Canonicus” running between Fall River and Providence and as an excursion boat on Narragansett bay. He died at Mentone, France, Jan. 3, 1872. William and Fannie had one child:
    1. Mary I. Borden, who died in infancy.
  6. Matthew Chaloner Durfee Borden, born July 18, 1842, now of New York, is the owner of the American Printing Company and the Fall River Iron Works Company. He married Sept. 5, 1865, Harriet M. Durfee, of Fall River, Mass., daughter of Dr. Nathan and Delane (Borden) Durfee, and they had children:
    1. William O. Borden
    2. Bertram H. Borden
    3. Harry E. Borden
    4. Matthew S. Borden
    5. Howard S. Borden
    6. Owen I. Borden
  7. Sarah Walker Borden, born May 13, 1844, married May 19, 1869, Alphonso Smith Covel, of Fall River, and resides in Boston, where Mr. Covel died April 13, 1907. They had children,
    1. Richard B. Covel
    2. Abbie W. Covel
    3. Borden Covel
    4. Gertrude E. Covel
    5. Florence Covel
    6. Helen Covel

(VIII) Col. Thomas James Borden, whose large share in the development of the business interests of Fall River, whose efficient service in public office and whose high character in private life all tended to make him one of the most valuable citizens of the town and State, was born in Fall River March 1, 1832, son of Col. Richard Borden. His early education was received in private schools in his native town, and when sixteen years old he entered the employ of the Fall River Iron Works Company, of which his father was treasurer. In order to fit himself the better for the management of the great trusts likely to be reposed in him, after a year spent in the above named works he entered upon a two years’ course of study in the Lawrence Scientific School, in Cambridge, studying engineering under Professor Eustis and chemistry under Professor Horsford, both masters in their respective branches of science. Thus equipped he returned to the Iron Works Company, and entering the office spent two years more. At the age of twenty-one he was appointed agent and treasurer of the Bay State Print Works, formerly known as the Globe Print Works, which Richard and Jefferson Borden and Oliver Chace and others had just purchased. This was in 1853. Four years later (1857) the financial crash swept down three of the principal owners of this organization and also some of its selling agents, and a heavy burden was thus thrown upon the brothers, Richard and Jefferson Borden. This resulted in the consolidation of the Bay State Works and the American Print Works, Thomas J. Borden being retained as manager of the Bay State section of the concern. In February, 1860, Mr. Borden was appointed agent and treasurer of the Troy Cotton & Woolen Manufactory, an establishment that dated back to 1813. When he took control of this mill he found in operation there 9,408 spindles and 252 looms, turning out less than two and a half million yards of cloth a year. He shortly submitted plans, which the directors approved, for greatly enlarging the capacity of the works. Before he had been in the management a year 38,736 spindles and 932 looms were in operation and the plant had quadrupled its production. This enlargement came at a most opportune time, being just after the first election of President Lincoln. The war proved a great boon to manufacturers and this corporation, like others, showed great advantages accruing therefrom.

During the period of the Civil War Mr. Borden won the military title that he bore as long as he lived. He was commissioned first lieutenant of the Fall River Light Infantry Sept. 3, 1863, and in the following year spent ninety days in Boston with the same rank in the 5th Unattached Company of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, in the United States service. Later he served as captain and lieutenant colonel, and became colonel June 23, 1868, in the 3d Mass. Vol. Militia, resigning the command of the regiment in 1871. During his term of service he did much to elevate the standard of the State militia.

Spinning room, mechanics mill, Fall River, Mass.
Spinning room, mechanics mill, Fall River, Mass.

In February, 1876, Colonel Borden resigned the treasurership of the Troy Mill. He had found a mill property worth $200,000, and he left one worth more than $800,000, which had in the meantime yielded more than $1,250,000 in dividends. To the care of this property he added during this same period the development of two others, the Mechanics and the Richard Borden Mills. The Mechanics Company was organized in 1868, Colonel Borden being elected president and agent, and having entire control of the business from the outset. The mill contained 53,712 spindles and 1,248 looms, and was capitalized at $750,000. The stock was largely distributed among people of small means. The same feature was marked in the organization of the Merchants Manufacturing Company the previous year, but this was the development of a new feature in the ownership of manufacturing property in Fall River, all previous enterprises of the kind having been controlled by associations of persons of considerable wealth, while these two were the results of the aggregation of the funds of parties having only very moderate capital. In another respect the Mechanics Mill was an innovation on previous practice in Fall River. Up to the time of its erection all of the cotton mills of any magnitude had been located near and drew their water supply from the stream leading out of Watuppa lake. The location selected for the Mechanics Mill was on the shore of the bay, about a mile and a half north of the outlet of the Quequechan river, in a section used hitherto only for residence purposes. Water for the use of the mill was obtained by sinking a well eighteen feet in diameter, and of the requisite depth to secure a permanent supply. For two or three years this mill was quite isolated from the other manufacturing establishments of the city. But as no difficulty on the score of a water supply was experienced, its erection was followed by that of five other mills further north, making six factories in the new group. As these mills were distant from the granite quarries of the city and within reach of the Taunton brickyard, either by water or rail, they were built of brick, unlike the practice prevailing elsewhere. The Mechanics Mill was the first new mill in the country provided with slashers for dressing warp. This improvement, which now has been everywhere adopted, reduced the cost of production in cotton manufacturing more than any other device has done since the invention of the self-operating mule. In order to further the development of his father’s land on the south side of the Quequechan river, Colonel Borden early in 1871 organized the Richard Borden Manufacturing Company, with a capital of $800,000, which was subscribed chiefly by members of the Borden family. Colonel Borden became treasurer of this corporation also. This mill at the time of its erection was one of the best structures for manufacturing purposes in the city. It was built under the personal supervision of its treasurer, who made the plans of construction and machine equipment. While the mill was in process of erection the company built ninety-six tenements for the use of the operatives, as there was little accommodation for them in the region of the mill. It also sold the sites for the Chace and Tecumseh mills, and thus laid the foundation for a very material extension of the city to eastward along the south bank of the Quequechan. Thus within three years the energy of Colonel Borden transformed a tract of waste land into a flourishing settlement and greatly extended a prosperous business. From 1871 to 1876 Colonel Borden was the master spirit of the Troy, the Mechanics and the Richard Borden Mills, with their 137,776 spindles and 3,228 looms. Under his skillful and energetic management, which included attention to detail as well to development of the general scheme, these institutions were financially successful and did much to determine the direction of the future development of Fall River’s industries. Colonel Borden’s active control of these industries was terminated in 1876 by his acceptance of the agency of the American Print Works, which he was urgently and persistently solicited to undertake. For thirty-nine years his uncle, Jefferson Borden, had held the position, but advancing years led him to desire release from so heavy a weight of business cares. Yielding to the strong inducements held out Colonel Borden accepted the burden thus laid down and carried it until 1887, when he disposed of his interests to his brother, M. C. D. Borden, and retired from the corporation. During his administration of the American Print Works the plant was greatly enlarged and improved, and its producing capacity vastly increased. The interior arrangements were thoroughly reorganized and made to minister to a far greater economy of labor than was possible under the old plan. Various devices for the recovery of what had been waste products were successfully applied. New structures were erected and thoroughly equipped, and all parts of the extensive works were brought into easy connection with one another. When he left the mills he had succeeded in developing one of the finest establishments in the world devoted to the printing of textile fabrics. At his death he was president of both the Richard Borden and the Mechanics Mills Corporations.

Richard Borden Manufacturing Company
Richard Borden Manufacturing Company

An enterprise in whose development Colonel Borden had an important part was the Watuppa Reservoir Company, of which he was treasurer from 1864 until he took control of the Print Works. When the Metacomet Bank was organized, in 1853, Colonel Borden was made one of the directors. At his death he was its president and the only member of the original board in the directorship, being also the oldest bank director in the city. He was also president of the Fall River Savings Bank, the original institution of the kind in the city, which has had a most honorable and successful history of over fourscore years.

In 1874 Colonel Borden became a director of the Old Colony Railroad Company, and the Old Colony Steamboat Company, and to the last he held a place among the managers of these corporations. He was a director of the Fall River Manufacturers Mutual Insurance Company from its organization, in 1870, being long its president and treasurer. In November, 1894, he was chosen president and treasurer of the State Mutual and the American Mutual Fire Insurance Companies of Providence, R. I., immediately after which he resigned his directorship in the Boston, the Worcester and the What Cheer Mutual Fire Insurance Companies, and the American Mutual Liability of Boston, which he had held for almost a score of years. All these corporations insure mill property only. For several years prior to his death Colonel Borden’s time was mainly occupied with the management of these various insurance interests.

Old Colony Steamboat Company
Old Colony Steamboat Company

Colonel Borden was a member and at one time vice president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and was a member and director in the New England Cotton Manufacturers’ Association. Among his other business cares was that of a directorship in the Borden Mining Company, of Frostburg, Md., a company organized by his father to do a bituminous coal business. Colonel Borden was appointed assistant engineer of the Fall River Fire Department in 1865. He became its chief engineer in 1870. This position he held three years, and among the men who have held this responsible trust not one labored more assiduously or with more marked success to heighten the efficiency of the department. When he retired from office the members of the department, in token of their appreciation, presented him a costly oil painting.

As might be expected, a man who was so successful in the business world would be sought by the people for public office. He served as a member of the common council of Fall River and as its president in 1874-75. Upon the passage of an Act of the Legislature, in 1894, placing the police and licensing power in the hands of a board of police commissioners to be appointed by the executive of the Commonwealth, Colonel Borden was appointed to the chairmanship of the board for the full term of three years by Governor Greenhalge. Governor Wolcott reappointed him for a second term, but he insisted upon being relieved of the duties of the office. He was one of the first named of the committee of thirty citizens to whom was intrusted the important duty of drafting a new city charter, and his services in this connection until the adoption of the charter were of infinite value to the movement.

Like his father, Colonel Borden was interested in whatever concerned the religious welfare of the community, being one of the leading supporters of the Central Congregational Church. He was chairman of the building committee which had charge of the erection of the elegant church edifice now in use; and he was the second president of the Congregational Club of Fall River. He was also the second president of the Fall River Associated Charities. His interest in the work of foreign missions led to his appointment, in 1877, as a corporate member of the American Board, a position he held until death, at that time being near the head of the membership in point of seniority. From the annual meeting of that society he was rarely absent, and was often given prominent place in the conduct of business. To the last he carried a heavy load of business care, and his death, Nov. 21, 1902, came when he had every reason to look forward to many years of useful activity. From his early years his integrity, his energy, his business capacity, had made him a conspicuous man in the community, and he gave freely of his ability, his means and his time to all worthy enterprises.

On Feb. 20, 1855, Colonel Borden was married to Mary Elizabeth Hill, born Aug. 5, 1833, daughter of Ebenezer Allen and Ruth Howland (Slade) Hill, and a native of Slatersville, R. I. Mrs. Borden died April 10, 1908. They had four children:

  1. Harriet Minerva Borden, born June 15, 1856, died Oct. 16, 1904; she was married Sept. 13, 1882, to Rufus Waterman Bassett, who died July 26, 1909. They had:
    1. Thomas Borden Bassett
    2. Frederic Waterman Bassett (died at the age of nineteen years)
    3. Margaret Bassett
    4. Charles French Bassett (died in infancy)
    5. Constance Bassett
  2. Anna Howland Borden
  3. Richard Borden (died in infancy)
  4. Carrie Lindley Borden

(VIII) Richard Baxter Borden, manufacturer and financier at Fall River, was born there Feb. 21, 1834, son of Col. Richard and Abby W. (Durfee) Borden. He died Oct. 12, 1906, after a useful and honorable life. He attended the common schools of Fall River, the Middleboro Academy and the Lawrence Scientific School. He started in business life as a clerk in the office of the Metacomet Mill, later becoming a clerk at the Fall River Iron Works. In 1859, having gained a knowledge of the manufacturing business, he was elected agent of the Metacomet Mill, the Ana wan Manufactory and the Fall River Manufactory, all under the control of the old Iron Works Corporation. From 1873 to 1876 he was treasurer of the Crescent Mills, retaining also the agencies of the Metacomet and Anawan. From 1876 on he was treasurer of the Richard Borden and Troy Mills, two of the most successful corporations in the city. He was a director in the Troy, Merchants and Richard Borden Mills, president and director of the American Linen Company, president and director of the Union Belt Company and president and director of the Mechanics Mills; was a director and vice president of the Fall River National Bank; was vice president and trustee of the Fall River Five Cents Savings Bank; a director of the Manufacturers Mutual Insurance Company of Fall River, the State Mutual Fire Insurance Company, the Enterprise Mutual Fire Insurance Company and the American Mutual Fire Insurance Company.

Mr. Borden was greatly respected and highly esteemed as a citizen for his sterling worth and practical public spirit. He was a man of the highest personal character and of unquestioned probity and integrity. He applied the qualities of his heart and mind in the activities of everyday life and none regretted his demise more sincerely than those with whom he came in contact in factory and office. He was a member of the Central Congregational Church, and was its treasurer at the time of his death, having held that office for thirty-seven years. He was one of eighty persons who joined the church in 1850. He was also a corporate member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He never sought promotion in public life, but was always ready to do his duty as a citizen. Hence when his friends proposed to nominate him for the common council he yielded to their wishes and was twice elected, serving in 1858-59 and 1864.

On Oct. 15, 1863, Mr. Borden was married to Ellen F. Plumer, of Boston, daughter of Avery and Elizabeth (Hodgdon) Plumer; four children were born to them, as follows:

  1. Richard Plumer Borden, an attorney, member of the firm of Slade & Borden
  2. Charles Newton Borden, treasurer of the Richard Borden Manufacturing Co.
  3. Elizabeth May Borden, who died June 24, 1908
  4. Nellie L. Borden, wife of Clifford M. Gardner, teller of the Massasoit-Pocasset National Bank (they have one child, Elizabeth Borden Gardner)

As a cotton manufacturer Mr. Borden was a leading and successful figure. Though wholly modest and unassuming, his rare ability put him in the very first class of those who have fostered and developed Fall River’s main industry. He had a practical knowledge of mill work in all its departments and besides the mechanical and technical experience he gained by actual contact with his business he became a skillful, successful and noted financier. He was actively engaged in producing cotton goods longer than any other man in Bristol county, and probably in New England. He was the only mill treasurer of recent years who was also treasurer at the time of the war. He was always remarkably alert in business and even in his later years he was abreast of the times in all that concerned improvement in the machinery and methods of cotton manufacture. His death was a positive loss to the community. He had a broad and sympathetic mind, and he had the good sense to carry his humanity into his business dealings. In commenting upon it Hon. Milton Reed said: Mr. Borden was an exceedingly fine type of the American business man, who carried his integrity into his business and moralized his business as a part of his character. While I did not know him intimately I always considered it a privilege to meet him and talk with him. He had a certain dignity of manner, a catholicity of sentiment and a broad way of viewing things. He gave sympathetic treatment to social questions, especially the labor questions. I have often noticed how few labor disturbances happened in the mills which Mr. Borden controlled. He recognized the human element in business relations. He had the fine old Puritan conscience which revolted at wrong-doing and felt a stain like a wound. He was quiet, reflective, self-contained, unpretentious and sincere. He led a life of stainless integrity, of admirable citizenship, and most effective results.

Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts: containing historical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families. 3 Volumes. Beers & Chicago. 1912.

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