Cities, Towns & Communities
In 1876 ranchers from Howard County extended their range into Borden County. By 1880 there were thirty-five residents who, unlike most pioneers, resisted intrusions of railroads and other settlers who might disrupt their use of the open range. As late as 1890, only 222 people lived in the county on twenty-five farms and ranches; only 1,146 acres in the county were classified as “improved” by the United States census that year. At this time the local economy revolved completely around the cattle industry, and in 1890 over 71,000 cattle were counted in Borden. The county was organized in 1891, and Gail was made the county seat.
More farmers moved into the area between 1890 and 1910. In 1900, there were 129 ranches and farms in Borden County, and the population had increased to 776. A small boom occurred in 1902, when state school lands became available for leasing. New arrivals, mostly farmers, were not welcomed by the established ranchers, and many left. Nevertheless, by 1910 there were 228 farms and 1,386 residents in the county; thirty-six of the farms were worked by tenants. For the scattered population of the county, isolated rural life brought its own rewards. As young Mary Blankenship, who passed through the area in 1901 to settle with her husband somewhat to the north, reflected: “We had plenty of time to be still and know God. He was our nearest neighbor.” The farms in the county dropped to 197 by 1920, but by 1930 the number had increased to 292 and the population was 1,505.
Many of the newcomers grew cotton, which by 1930 had become the county’s most important crop. Cotton was first planted in the area during the 1890s; in 1900, it was grown on 137 acres of Borden County land.
The population of the county continued to decline after World War II. Only 1,106 people lived in Borden County in 1950, and only 1,076 in 1960, 888 in 1970, 859 in 1980, and 799 in 1990. Tourists, mostly hunters and fishermen at Lake J. B. Thomas, contribute to the economy. Gail, the county seat and only town of note, had an estimated population of 202 in 1991. Source: Handbook of Texas Online.
Borden County, 1922. This county was created August 21, 1876. and was organized March 17. 1891. Howard County lies on the south, and through the latter passes the Texas & Pacific Railway. Some of the stockmen who had their chief headquarters at Big Springs in the latter county extended the scope of their operations into Borden County, which for thirty years or more has been the scene of operations for West Texas cattlemen. At the present time, although nearly all the area is tillable, it is largely occupied by cattlemen, who, while they graze thousands of head of cattle, also farm in a limited way, producing corn, sorghum. kafir corn, oats and other grain and feed stuffs. There are few real farmers, but the possibilities of agriculture and also of horticulture have been thoroughly demonstrated. The county is without railroads, and consequently there is little inducement to undertake the growing of crops which cannot be consumed on the farm or ranch.
The population of Borden County in 1880 was thirty-five ; in 1890. 222 ; in 1900, 776; in 1910, 1,386. and in 1920, 965. The county town is Gail, and the county seat and the county were named in honor of Gail Borden, a prominent early Texan. Other towns in the county are Durhamand Treadway.
In 1920 the number of cattle found by the tax officials was 13,375: horses and mules, about 2,700, and sheep, 15,390. The total area of the county is 572,800, of which 271,150 acres were included in farms and ranches in 1910. About 26,000 acres were reported as “improved lands,” as compared with about 3,500 in 1900. The number of farms and ranches in 1910 was 228, and in 1900, 129. The largest crop in 1909 was in kafir corn and milo maize, with 5,283 acres ; in cotton. 2,206 acres; and in corn, 235 acres. The property valuation in 1903 was $996,001; in 1913, $1,526,540; in 1920, $1,954,585. – History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.
Borden County, Texas: The First One Hundred Years, 1976.