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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Garland County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Maj. William H. Gaines, one of the prominent pioneers of Hot Springs, Ark., was born near Charleston, Va., June 30, 1797, and is a son of Abner and Elizabeth (Matthews) Gaines, both natives of England. Three Gaines brothers came from England at an early day, and one of them, Abner, settled in Kentucky, taught school, and in connection carried on farming. He died in Boone County of that State, and there his wife also passed her last days. Their family consisted of twelve children, eight sons and four daughters, only three of whom are now living, two sisters and Maj. William H. Gaines. The last-named was reared in Kentucky, and owing to the scarcity of schools received but a limited education. At the age of fifteen years he began learning the black smith trade, and served his time, but was obliged to go to school two months in order to be able to keep accounts. He carried on his trade in Boone County for about twelve years, and manufactured wagons, carts, tools of all kinds, shipped them South, and was extensively engaged in the manufacturing trade. In 1830 he settled in Chicot County, Ark., which was six years previous to the date of the State’s admission into the Union, and at that time very thinly settled. He then embarked in farming and raising cotton, which he carried on extensively until the slaves were made free, when he lost heavily. He was the owner of 165 slaves, old and young, and after the war he tried to continue his farming operations but was compelled to give it up, thus losing a vast amount of money, besides losing considerable by endorsing his friends’ notes. In 1851 he removed to Hot Springs, where he has since made his home. At that time there were but few houses, and all of them open summer houses. Previous to his removal to the springs he had visited the place several times for his health, and at last took up his residence there. The Major was in poor circumstances for a while after the war, but he was not a man to give up easily, and he soon retrieved his fallen fortune. He was first married in 1819 to Miss Litha Early, by whom he has one child living: Virenda, wife of George W. Sappington. Mrs. Gaines died in 1828, and in the spring of 1849 he married Miss Maria Belding, who bore him seven children, all married but one, a daughter, at home. His second wife was one of the heirs to the Belding property, which was in litigation for many years, but finally the property went to the Government. It was through the Major’s influence that the suits were closed. He had an act passed in Congress authorizing Gaines, Rector and Hale to sue the Government; thus it was settled. The Major has done much to improve Hot Springs, is the owner of a great amount of real estate, and one of the wealthiest men of the county, although he spent a great deal of money on the property which the Government won from him. He was postmaster at Gaines’ Landing on the Mississippi River, when it was worth about $5 per quarter. He has never been an office seeker, and his life has been spent in speculating and buying real estate. He is now in his ninety-second year, but is quite active and vigorous for his years. He has a wonderful memory, and can get on his horse and ride back and forward to the city. He owns Gaines’ Block, a fine brick structure in which the bank is located, and of which one of his sons, A. B. Gaines, is president. His eldest daughter, Fannie G. (wife of C. S. Williamson), Augusta L. (wife of S. H. Stitt), and the youngest daughter, Mary P. Gaines (unmarried), reside in Hot Springs; William H., Jr. (the eldest boy), resides in Palo Pinto, Tex.; one daughter, Louisa C. (wife of E. S. Blasdel), in Los Angeles, Cal., and the youngest son, Abner L., resides in England. He has twenty-two grandchildren living, the eldest being fourteen years of age, and two great-grandchildren, the eldest twelve years old.

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This family biography is one of 55 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Garland County, Arkansas published in 1890.  For the complete description, click here: Garland County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

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