Stephen F. Austin State University

Emory Rains, Founding Father of Rains County, Texas (September 2011)

Emory Rains, Founding Father of Rains County, Texas
By Elaine Bay

Emory Rains family migrated from Randolph County, North Carolina to Virginia. By 1800 his grandfather, George Raines (1750 - ) had moved his family to Warren County, Tennessee. John (1777 - ), the seventh son of George Raines, married Katy Duncan and they migrated to Texas via Alabama.

Emory Rains (1800 - 1878) was the 4th child and son of John and Katy Duncan Raines, being born in Warren County, Tennessee. Emory moved to Texas, settling first in the Red River section (later Lamar County) along with the Anderson family, and moved then to Shelby County, which he represented in the 2nd and 3rd Texas Republic legislatures and sponsored the Homestead Law of 1839; this law was important to Texas land owners, who often moved to Texas but were pursued by their creditors, as it provided them exemption from creditors' seizure of the landowners land and home.
Emory married Marana Anderson (1802 - 1885) in 1822; the 1830 census indicates that Rains and his wife owned land in the Patroon Creek area; 1834 Spanish deed records shows that Emory Rains received a land grant along the Patroon Creek area of Lamar County. On February 1835 he received a married man's league (4,428 acres) of land in the Lorenzo de Zavala's colony; Zavala was the first vice-president of the Republic of Texas. Zavala had received an impresario's grant of land in Texas and was expected to settle 500 families on this land grant. The land is now southeast Texas. The 1835 Nacogdoches census provides information that Emory Rains was a farmer as well as the first county judge of Shelby County.

At the age of 29, Emory Rains, unable to read or write, was taught by Jonas Harris, as they practiced in the damp sand around Patroon Creek. Rains went on to become a self-taught lawyer.

He served as a member to the Convention of 1845, which met in July 1845 and voted 55 to 1 to approve the annexation of Texas to the United States, which had been approved by the joint resolution of the US Congress.

After Texas' annexation to the United States, Emory Rains continued to live in and represent Shelby County in the 2nd, 4th and 5th Legislatures. Around 1859 Rains and his family moved to Wood County in northeast Texas and he continued his political career by representing Wood County in the Texas Senate during the 8th Legislature.
By 1846 Emory Rains and his family settled in Wood County; he bought 640 acres on Turkey Creek and Rains Creek, about two miles northeast of the future Point, Rains County, Texas. There he and many of his family spent the rest of their lives.

In 1866 Emory Rains rode a mule to Austin in order to introduce a bill which would establish Rains County, which is a total of 259 square miles - the 4th smallest county in the state of Texas; the bill was approved June 1870. He helped, along with E.P. Kearby and Capt. Tom M. Cain, survey Rains County in 1869; the county was created from parts of Wood County, Van Zandt County, Hunt County, and Hopkins County, with most of the area coming out of Wood County. The largest community located in the central part of the newly created Rains County was Springville; it was re-named "Emory", in honor of Emory Rains.

According to the Rains County Leader Pioneer edition of August 1939 in his biographical sketch, Emory Rains is described as a tall, stately man who never grew a beard and whose hair turned from jet-black to silver. He always wore a wool shirt with an open collar. "Mrs. Marana Rains always kept the coffee pot on the fire and a cup of coffee was the treat to visitor who called in those days." To the union of Emory & Marana Anderson Rains were born 13 children were born with 12 of them living to adulthood. The names of 11 of the children are Pilmira, Mary Ann, Sally, Liz, Marana, Ellen, Minerva, John D., Presley, Miria, and Mahalia Kathleen.

Emory Rains died just 8 years after his namesake county and county seat was established. Houston Post, 11 August 1878 "Judge Emory Rains died Monday, March 3, 1878 from an apparent stroke. Judge Rains served the people of Texas for over half a century. Rains County has been created and named in his honor with the county seat taking his name. He is buried in the Emory City Cemetery, Emory, Texas." Upon his death, Elijah Bibb, postmaster at Emory and an old, dear friend, built Emory Rains' coffin as he had requested. He is buried in the Emory City Cemetery, along with his wife and one child. In 1893 a Texas historical marker was placed at his grave.

His great-great-granddaughter, Cay Francis Braziel House, is currently Mayor of Emory. She has in her possession two pieces of furniture that belonged to Emory and Marana Rains. One is a "dough table" and the other is a mirror made by Emory Rains. The Rains family organ fell off the wagon while they were moving and broke into many pieces; Emory Rains salvaged parts of the organ and made the framed mirror. Recently an original quilt that Marana Rains quilted was give to Mrs. House; it is over 100 years old and measures 65" by 82" and consists of 16" blocks. The old quilt was in the possession Presley Rains Montgomery, who received it from his mother. His grandchildren gave the quilt to Cay Frances for safekeeping. The quilt was taken to Melanie Sanford, a textile preservationist, in Red Oak, Texas to be restored. The appraiser dated the quilt as having been made between 1880 and 1894. The quilt will be encased and hang in the Rains County Historical Society's building.