Reuben Reid Gaines
Soldier, Lawyer, Jurist
Judge Daniel T. McCall, Jr.
Off the traveled roads and trodden paths of Choctaw County, Alabama, there lies, nestled in a dense and silent wilderness of large trees and underbrush an old burial ground, disturbed only by roaming deer and feeding wild turkeys, which, with other wild animals, frequent the area.
This cemetery is located a short distance from the west side of an old narrow dirt trail, three tenths of a mile northward from its beginning at the two mile point on the unpaved Tinker Road, west from Alabama highway 17. The Tinker Road commences about two miles south of Choctaw County Road 32, at the Woodrow W. Lindsey store, in Jachin, Choctaw County, Alabama, and runs west from Highway 17 for almost five and three quarter miles. it terminates at its juncture with Choctaw County Road 9, just south of the home of Miss Lillian Leonard.
In this old graveyard, there are a few markers, two of which are similar, identifying the graves of those who lie side by side. The inscriptions are dimmed by the passage of the years, but under the curved limbs of a weeping willow tree, one can decipher the following epitaphs:
Joab Gaines, son of David and Sibley Gaines
Born 1791, Died 1855
Born, Orangeburg District S. C.
On the other stone, there is the inscription:
January 3, 1804
Daughter of John and Nina McDavid
Lauren's District, S. C.
Nearby, resting in their graves, are the Gaines' children: Amanda J. Gaines, daughter Joab and Lucinda Gaines, 1839-1884; son (not legible) of Joab and Lucinda Gaines; a daughter _______ age 9 years, 12 days, 1834; another stone, nothing legible except "1831-1841".
Joab Gaines came to Sumter County, Alabama, (later Choctaw, 1847) from the Territory of West Florida. His father, David Gaines is listed in the First Census of the united States (1790) as a resident of Orangeburg District (South-Part), South Carolina. Joab Gaines appears in the old Spanish Census of Escambia Riber 1820, as being one of the many Anglo-Americans, residing near Chumuckla, Florida, (about thirty miles north of Pensacola) without the permission of the Spanish Governor Jose' Callava. He is described in the census as being 27 years of age, single, a United States citizen, owning fifty-two head of cattle, twenty-five hogs, and cultivating 18 ardents (about sixteen acres of land).
Lucinda Gaines, Joab's wife, was of the prominent McDavid family of the Territory of Northwest Florida whose family is said to have settled Chumuckla, Florida, about 1813 and for which the Town of McDavid, Florida, was named.
The Gaines family was living in old Escambia County, Florida Territory, in 1833, before moving to Williams Cross Roads in Sumter County, (now Choctaw) Alabama. They moved to Alabama around 1834-1836.
Choctaw County, Alabama, was created by the Alabama Legislature by Act on December 29, 1847. The upper two townships of the new county had been part of Sumter County, Act No. 213, December 29, 1847. It was part of an area that had been in the vast Choctaw Nation and was ceded to the United States by the Choctaws in the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830.
The once thriving Town of Williams Cross Roads, sometimes identified "Williams X Roads", was located in what was called "Old Township 14, as was the equally popular place of Dansborough. Nothings remains of either place and only a few have heard of the towns. But, a hundred and fifty years ago, many families, prominent in this State's social and government affairs, lived in Old Township 14.
Locating this old cemetery and the gravestones, with the earlier information about the Gaines family in Northwest Florida, suggested seeking further knowledge about Reuben Reid Gaines, a native of present day Choctaw County, about whom I had a recollection.
He was first taught privately and in the renowned George F. Mellen School in Mt. Sterling, Alabama. His name, as a student, appears in the Register of Officers and Students of the University of Alabama, 1831-1901. This listing reveals that Reuben Reid Gaines had entered the University in 1852 and was awarded an AB degree in 1855. His residence, at the time, was Williams Cross Roads, Choctaw County, where his father, Joab Gaines, and mother, Ludinda Gaines, lived. He was born on October 30, 1836, at Williams Cross Roads.
He earned his law degree in 1857 from Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee, the well-known law school from which the late Cordell Hull subsequently graduated. He was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Secretary of State during World War II.
In 1859, Reuben Reid Gaines and Louise Shortridge of Montevallo, Alabama, were married. She was of the distinguished, and prominent, Shortridge family of Shelby County, Alabama. He father, George David Shortridge (1814-1870) was one of the first students to enroll in the university of Alabama, April 18, 1831 and was one of seven students to be awarded an AB degree in 1833. In 1853, he was an unsuccessful candidate for governor against Governor John Anthony Winston. Her grandfather, Eli Shortridge was a justice on the Supreme Court of Alabama, 1828.
Rueben Reid Gaines was member of Company A, "Ruffin Dragoons" that formed a part of the Third Alabama Cavalry Regiment of the Confederate States Army. This company went from Mt. Sterling in 1862. He was made adjutant of the Regiment and participated with it in many battles, being wounded in the battle of Farmington.
After the War was over the Reuben Gaines family moved to Clarksville, Texas, where he resumed the practice of law in partnership with Colonel B. H. Epperson. He was elected Judge of the Sixth Judicial District of Texas and later served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas. In 1884, he became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of that state, where he continued to serve until 1911, when he retired. He died in Austin, Texas on October 13, 1914.
Standing in the Mt. Sterling Community Cemetery, Mt. Sterling, Alabama, is a grave monument with the inscription:
Little Alice, Daughter of Reuben R. and Louisa Gaines
Died June 12, 1862. Age 14 months
Local biographers seem to have overlooked this daughter in their sketches of the family, and the only reminder that this little girl was the daughter of Reuben and Louisa Gaines is this epitaph commemorating her short life.
Another daughter, Lelia Shortridge Gaines has been listed as the only child and her last address is given as Galveston, Texas in 1921.
Judge Gaines was a Democrat, an Episcopalian, and a member of Psi Chapter of the Delta kappa Epsilon fraternity at the University of Alabama, 1852-1855. He was instrumental in establishing a chapter of this fraternity at the University of Texas.
Thus, Choctaw County claims, as a native son, a man who held the highest judicial office on the highest judicial court of the state of Texas for a long number of years. The soil of Choctaw covers the graves of his mother and father, his daughter and several of his brothers and sisters.
Submitters Note: Judge McCall included 28 footnotes in this document, but I did not include them.