James Gainous Sr.

This is a closer look at James Gainous Sr., who lived part of his life in Robertson County, Tennessee. The Gainous family’s surname was spelled various ways in records: Gainus, Gaines, Gainuss, Gainess, Gains, etc.

Special thanks to Rick Tidwell for his extensive research on the Gainous family!


James’ wife (or wives!) are unknown. He may have been married to Francis, who is buried at Sylvestria Cemetery in Hudsonville, Marshall County, Mississippi. Francis died 16 Jun 1847 according to FindAGrave, but since anyone can add to that website, it’s unknown if this is accurate, if Francis is buried beside James, etc.

Likely Children

Robert Leroy Gainuss (1797 – 1865) – Born in Virginia. Lived in Calloway, Kentucky; Robertson County, Tennessee; Decatur County, Tennessee; Perry County, Tennessee. Died in Henderson County, Tennessee. Fought in the War of 1812 and was wounded in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Robert was married to Permelia Corban. A Robertson County Times article from 2009 references a letter Robert wrote in 1838. (Thanks to Rick Tidwell for these find.) The letter mentions Robert’s wife had congestive fever in 1834 and passed away. Robert practiced the Thomsonian System of Medicine. In 1838, he lived on Carr’s Creek. He was the post master of Botanick Gardens, Perry County, Tennessee and Lexington, Henderson County, Tennessee. Was a physician on the 1850 and 1860 census. He married Sarah Elizabeth Conrad second. He was a union sympathizer and wrote to Andrew Johnson for assistance. (Source: Rick Tidwell’s research)

Joel G Gainous (abt. 1810 – 1847)

Malinda Gainous (1812 – 1884)

John Jeter Gainus (1814 – 1881)

James Gainous Jr. (abt. 1815 – unknown)


1769 – James Sr. is born around this time, maybe in Virginia. This is from the 1850 census. Some online family trees list his birth as May 1770, but I have found no record of this.

28 Apr 1830 – Robertson County, Tennessee – For 100 dollars, William Seals sells to James Gainess a 40 acre tract of land “where James Gainess now lives” on Carr’s Creek. (Source: Rick Tidwell; FamilySearch, Robertson County, Tennessee deeds, pages 108-109)

1830 – Robertson County, Tennessee – James Ganius and family are listed on the census. Elder son, Robert, is listed in Calloway County, Kentucky, not with James Sr. Daughter, Malinda, had a child in 1830, so she was likely already married and out of the home. (Source: Ancestry.com)

Household Members
Males – 5 thru 9: 1
Males – 15 thru 19: 4 *Joel G, John Jeter, James AND ?
Males – 60 thru 69: 1 *James Sr.
Females – Under 5: 1
Females – 10 thru 14: 2
Females – 15 thru 19: 1
Females – 20 thru 29: 1
Females – 60 thru 69: 1 *Wife of James Sr.

After examining the 1830 census, it appears the Gainous family had more children than the ones we know of. Since James and wife were 60+, some of the younger children could even be grandchildren.

25 Jun 1831 – Robertson County, Tennessee – Robert L. Gainess to Daniel P. Braden, a half-interest in a wool carding machine and land from William H. Dortch, agent of George W. Jordan. The land was originally purchased by Robert L. Gainess with James Gainess and Joel Gainess as Security. (Source: Rick Tidwell; Robertson County, Tennessee deeds, pages 46-47)

4 Sept 1833 – Robertson County, Tennessee – A Deed from James Gainus to D. P. Braden for the benefit of [surname] Conrad & R.L. Gainus. (Source: Rick Tidwell; Land Deed Probates, Ancestry.com)

1836 – Robertson County, Tennessee – “James Gaines” is on the tax list in District 9. He owns 40 acres, valued at 80, taxed at .11, amount of state tax is .4, with total state & county taxes at .11. A.C. Gaines and Robt. L Gaines are also listed. Neither have land, but are each counted as one white poll, taxed at 31, amount of state tax .12, and total state & county tax .31. (Source: Ancestry.com, incorrectly filed as 1812)

1837 – Robertson County, Tennessee – James Gainus, Robert L. Gainus and A C Gaines are on the tax list in District 9. (Source: Ancestry.com)

1840 – Robertson County, Tennessee – James and family are on the census. (Source: Ancestry.com)

Males – 5 thru 9: 2
Males – 70 thru 79: 1 *James Sr.
Females – Under 5: 1
Females – 30 thru 39: 1
Females – 60 thru 69: 1 *Wife of James Sr.

Once again, we’re left wondering who the additional people were in their household — the younger woman and three children. Is this a daughter and grandchildren?

17 Oct 1846Port Gibson, Claiborne County, Mississippi, USA – A letter was waiting for James Gainus at the post office. This is either James Sr. or James Jr.  (Source: Rick Tidwell)

16 Jun 1847 – A user on the website FindAGrave made a listing for “Fransis Gainuss” at Sylvestria Cemetery in Hudsonville, Marshall County, Mississippi. No gravestone photographed. This information is unconfirmed. Was Francis the wife of James?

1850 – Marshall County, Mississippi – James is living with son, John J, and John’s wife, Sarah. He states he is 81, which would make him born about 1769. He says he was born in Virginia. He is working as a farmer, while his son is a dancing master – an early term for dance instructor. John’s real estate is worth 1,000. (Source: Ancestry.com)

1 Jun 1852 – A user on the website FindAGrave made a listing for “James Gainuss” at Sylvestria Cemetery in Hudsonville, Marshall County, Mississippi. No gravestone photographed. This information is unconfirmed. This is generally accepted to be James Sr.

Where did James Sr. come from?

The earliest record we have for James is dated 1830 – a deed and census record. He would have been about 61 years old. I have not been able to locate him prior, however, he must have left some record behind before he turned 61!

Originally posted Aug. 10, 2020

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