Gail had only 18
months of formal schooling, yet he taught for two years while he was
still a teenager. It just so happens that he had more education than
most other people at the time.
At age 28, Gail moved to Texas to follow his brother, who was one
of the state's original settlers. He would later start his own
newspaper in 1835, a year before Mexican troops captured the Alamo.
But Gail's name is not synonymous with newspaper publishing.
He also worked as a surveyor, even helping lay out the site for
the city of Houston.
But Gail's name is not synonymous with surveying.
Speaking of Houston, Gail worked in politics under Sam Houston.
Yes, that Sam Houston, for whom the city is named.
But Gail's name is not synonymous with politics.
He got involved in mapmaking and would eventually produce the
first topographical map of Texas. Could he have been a modern-day
No, because Gail's name was not synonymous with mapmaking either.
It is synonymous with his invention, though.
What, then, did Gail invent?
He invented a new machine that could travel on water and on land.
But Gail's name is not synonymous with machines that could travel
on water and on land. In fact, this car was one of several
inventions that Gail created. He also invented the meat biscuit.
[to top of second column]
But Gail's name is not synonymous with the meat biscuit, as the
meat biscuit was a failure. Apparently people didn't like the taste
So, is this story over already?
No, it's not over. In the words of that great philosopher, John
Belushi, it wasn't over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, so
this story isn't over yet either.
The meat biscuit did prepare him for his next invention, though,
and this one had to do with milk. He set out to invent a way to keep
milk fresh-tasting longer. His inspiration came from seeing
immigrants in very bad condition on his way back from an overseas
There's also a town in west Texas named after Gail. The town of
Gail is a county seat with a population of only 202 people, located
about 30 miles past the middle of nowhere. The town of Gail is in
Borden County, which is also named after Gail. As in Gail Borden,
who invented condensed milk in 1853.
And that is what Gail's name is synonymous with to this day, more
than 150 years later.
Paul Niemann's column is syndicated
to more than 70 newspapers. He is the author of the "Invention
Mysteries" series of books. He can be reached at
Copyright Paul Niemann 2008