Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The William Gaines Family and their Slaves


Today, I was searching for some images for a project I am working on at work. I found the above picture while searching and thought I'd share it on here since it was new to me. 

The Library of Congress website description states that this was taken in Hanover County, Virginia, in 1862 on the plantation of Dr.William Gaines. The photographer was George Harper Houghton. 

Being curious, I thought I'd look up Gaines in the 1860 census. Interestingly there were two William Gaines listed--both on the same page, so I am guessing they were father and son. 

The first "Wm. Gaines" was indeed listed as "Dr. & farmer." He was only twenty-five years old. Only initials are given for this Mrs. Gaines, who was twenty-seven, and their daughter, who was three. Either Gaines accrued a sizable fortune early, or more likely, was provided a good start by his father as he is listed as owning $29,300 in real estate and $11,970 in personal property. 

The other Gaines, "Wm. F. Gaines," was fifty-six years old and was a "M.D. & farmer." Mr. Gaines, Sr. had $56,000 in real estate and $54,475 in personal property. His wife "J.G." was forty-seven. The next listed household is that of W.H. Wood, an overseer; presumably the elder Gaines's plantation manager. 

William Gaines is shown as owning fifteen slaves in the 1860 slave schedules, living in what looks to be seven slave dwellings. I assume this is Gaines the younger. William F. Gaines owned seventy-four slaves and their twelve slave quarters. I am guessing that those enslaved individuals shown in the photograph above are those of Gaines, the older, but that is purely speculation on my part.

I found that William Gaines, who's date of birth makes it the son, fought in Company I, Fifteenth Virginia Infantry. He enlisted less than a week after Virginia seceded.

Photographer George Harper Houghton apparently took the above image while accompanying soldiers on the Peninsula Campaign from his home state of Vermont. Some of Houghton's amazing work can be seen here.




9 comments:

  1. Tim, I am very intrigued by your post and wanted to say thanks for sharing this tidbit of information. I'm researching my family's (the Gaines') history and have often wondered if my family origins began on one of these plantations. Again, thanks for the info.
    R. L. Gaines

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  2. Hello. Thank you so much for this. I am a descendant of the Gaines family. My 2x great grandmother was a young enslaved girl on the plantation. Her name was Hannah Gaines who after emancipation lived in King William VA. Thanks for the clues and most of all the image.

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  3. Hello. Thank you so much for this. I am a descendant of the Gaines family. My 2x great grandmother was a young enslaved girl on the plantation. Her name was Hannah Gaines who after emancipation lived in King William VA. Thanks for the clues and most of all the image.

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    1. That's awesome! I'd love to learn about any family stories that were passed down!I've always wondered what became of the Gaines slaves!Shoot me an email...rangergirl15@yahoo.com

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    2. That's awesome! I'd love to learn about any family stories that were passed down!I've always wondered what became of the Gaines slaves!Shoot me an email...rangergirl15@yahoo.com

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  4. The two William Gaines's are distant relations not father and son. Dr. Gaines's Sallie married the other William Gaines who was her distant cousin. The Gaines are no relation to me but I've been researching Dr. Gaines for twenty years.

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    1. I'd love to know what info you may have gathered on the Gaines family descendants...
      I know there are several William Gaineses in my family tree, but am not sure how they may relate to these two.

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  5. The two William Gaines's are distant relations not father and son. Dr. Gaines's Sallie married the other William Gaines who was her distant cousin. The Gaines are no relation to me but I've been researching Dr. Gaines for twenty years.

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  6. My grandfather's name was George Washington Gaines (Hanover Co., VA) and his father's name was William Gaines. I think it is possible that a relative or relatives of mine are in this picture. If anyone has any information, please comment.

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