Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of America’s past. These stories are about Americans—people just like you—who have made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around the site and find what inspires you.

Borden Dairy: The Beginning

The Borden Dairy company is an extraordinarily old American Bordencompany. It was started by Gail Borden, Jr. (1801-1874) in the decade before the Civil War. The first product Borden tried to sell was a dehydrated meat biscuit, and his experience with it led him to patenting and marketing condensed milk, a form of milk that needed no refrigeration.

Borden was born in Norwich, New York, and raised in Indiana. When he was about 20 years old, Gail Borden followed his brothers to Texas. He had been told the dry climate would help with a persistent cough he had. He joined one brother in a surveying business. They also maintained a family farm as surveying was not full-time work. In 1835 the brothers started a newspaper for the Galveston area (1835).  In addition, Borden was active with the Texas Baptist Education Society, which eventually founded Baylor University. Continue reading

Elsie the Cow is one of the most famous marketing mascots ever created. She has been more popular than the Pillsbury Doughboy, better than the Campbell twins, and more accessible than Tony the Tiger. During her heyday (1940s-1960s), Elsie led the Rose Bowl parade, raised $1.6 million… Continue reading »

Elmer's Glue
Elmer’s Glue was first introduced by the Borden Company in 1947. A dairy company going into the adhesive business may at first seem surprising, but it makes good sense when you learn that one of the prime ingredients in this early form of the glue was casein,… Continue reading »

Mexican-American Hero
Mexican-born Silvestre S. Herrera (1916-2007) wasn’t even a U.S. citizen when he signed up to fight for the United States in World War II. As Herrera himself said after obtaining citizenship: “I am a Mexican-American and we have a tradition. We’re supposed to be men, not sissies.” Early… Continue reading »

Route 66 Race
The First International Transcontinental Foot Race was held in the United States in 1928. The event was organized through the combined efforts of the Route 66 Association and sports promoter, Charles C. Pyle. The purpose was to build interest in the newly opened Route 66—a road… Continue reading »

shopping cart
The shopping cart was invented in the mid-1930s by Sylvan N. Goldman (1898-1984). Goldman ran a grocery store chain called Humpty Dumpty, and he observed that shoppers struggled with the “hand carry” shopping baskets. “They had a tendency to stop shopping when the baskets became too full or… Continue reading »

dog hero
Rags, who became a World War I dog hero, was originally just a stray pup picked up by a couple of American soldiers in July of 1918. James Donovan and George Hickman, part… Continue reading »

Lassie became a movie star despite starting life as a spirited, unwanted pup. In 1940 Rudd Weatherwax and his brother, Frank, had just started their own Studio Dog Training School, opting to run their own business rather than continue to work for others.  A man who was having difficulty… Continue reading »

stability dog
Geronimo is an elegant greyhound, weighing 80 pounds and standing hip-high to individuals of average height. He came to live with Linda and Mike Bates about five years ago when he was in need of a home.  They loved him on sight, but as they learned of… Continue reading »

Heather attentive
Heather is a hearing dog that has changed the world for owner Jeanne Glass of Long Beach, California.  With Heather by her side at all times, Glass, who is severely hearing impaired, never has to worry about missing a door knock,… Continue reading »

Strongheart was the first dog “movie star” to appear in dramatic roles. The handsome German shepherd was fast and strong; smart and capable and always managed to save the day, thereby setting the stage for Rin-Tin-Tin and all those that followed. The dogs that had preceded Strongheart… Continue reading »

George Tirebiter, a scraggly mutt, had the good sense to wander onto the campus of the University of Southern California in the early 1940s. He stayed around long enough that the students decided to make him mascot—a role he played with gusto for about seven years. When Tirebiter arrived,… Continue reading »

Taco Bell Dog
The Taco Bell dog, Gidget, was a 12-pound Chihuahua that was in the right place at the right time to become a big star. Taco Bell Dog Discovered Sue Chipperton, an animal trainer with Studio Animal Services, a company that provides all types of animals for the entertainment… Continue reading »

ice cream cone
The ice cream cone is said to have originated at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1904. But that leaves out an important part of history: the story of the cone inventor. The patent for cone-making was awarded to Italo… Continue reading »

Bummer and Lazarus
Bummer and Lazarus were stray dogs who wandered the streets of San Francisco in the 1860s, begging for handouts and patrolling the area for rats to kill. They were also good pals who were unified in all they did. Bummer was said to do the biting;… Continue reading »

War Dogs
At the start of World War II, the United States military had no canine corps so it fell to civilians, primarily led by poodle breeder Alene Erlanger, to organize… Continue reading »

Fatty Arbuckle and Luke
Fatty Arbuckle’s dog, Luke, was one of the most talented stars of silent films.  In a day when camera tricks were technologically not possible, Luke is seen jumping from one wall on a building rooftop to another narrow wall across the way. He climbs from… Continue reading »

bear cubs
Two bear cubs were the most unusual animals to be in residence at the White House during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency (1801-1809). Throughout his lifetime, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) pursued scientific knowledge by studying all that came his… Continue reading »

White Castle
White Castle holds the title of being the first fast-food restaurant inthe world. Their original hamburger eatery opened in Wichita, Kansas in 1921. The restaurant was the start of what has become a multi-billion dollar fast food industry. (White Castle predated… Continue reading »

Harlem Hellfighter
Henry Lincoln Johnson (1897-1929), who served valiantly as part of the 369th regiment (known as the Harlem Hellfighters) received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously in a ceremony at the White House on June 2, 2015, almost one hundred years after his return from war. At the… Continue reading »

Delacorte monkeys
The Delacorte Clock in Central Park has been delighting families with its carousel of animals dancing to musical chimes since it was first created in 1965. The musical clock built above the arcade between the main part of the Central Park Zoo and the Children’s Zoo, was… Continue reading »

Robert Ripley
Robert Ripley (1890-1949) achieved worldwide fame through his “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” column, a wildly popular newspaper panel series and radio program during the 1930s and ’40s. The phrase, “Believe It or Not” became a well-known saying of the day. At a… Continue reading »

bubble gum
Bubble gum.  Few adults chew it, but all of us surely chewed the delightful pink stuff while growing up:  the sweet smell when unwrapping the paper, the powdery sugar that came off on one’s fingers, the fun  of reading the funnies wrapped inside, and the thrill of… Continue reading »

Binney & Smith was an outgrowth of a company begun in Peekskill, New York, in 1864 by Joseph W. Binney, the father of the man who would become part of Binney & Smith. The first product sold by Binney’s company, Peekskill Chemical Works, was known as lampblack. It… Continue reading »

lighthouse keepers
The first Hispanic-American in the Coast Guard was Juan Andreu, who was appointed the first official lighthouse keeper of the St. Augustine Lighthouse in 1824, three years after Florida became a U.S. Territory. Juan was born in Florida to parents… Continue reading »

Part of the inspiration for this site comes from a remark made by Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams (1860-1935):

"People do not want to hear about simple things. They want to hear about great things—simply told."

This Day in History

On November 28,1895,Frank Duryea won the first motor-car race held in the United States. Duryea was driving a “horseless carriage” he had designed with his brother. Vehicles had to have at least three wheels, and they also had to be able to carry at least two people, the driver and a race-appointed umpire. Duryea crossed the finish line about 10 hours after starting. The Duryeas won $2,000 and enough publicity to establish their business as the best company from which to buy a motor car.

site by: Deyo Designs
Copyright © 2011-2014 Kate Kelly, America Comes Alive | Site Map
Follow Kate >
Get every new post on America Comes Alive! delivered to your inbox.