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|The county was named for James
Gaines, a merchant who signed the Texas Declaration of
Independence. The area was Comanche country until the United
States Army campaigns of 1875 and 1876. An Indian burial mound
has been excavated near Cedar Lake. It is believed that Quanah
Parker, the last great Comanche chief, was born in the
vicinity. Cedar Lake was also the site of a skirmish between
Indians and United States cavalrymen in October 1875. Buffalo
hunters moved into the region in the 1870s, and some of them
began ranches and remained in the area after their game had
disappeared; the land was plush with grama grasses but limited
in surface water. In 1876 the Texas legislature formed Gaines
County from Bexar County. Gaines County was attached to Bexar
County for administrative purposes in 1876, then to
Shackelford County in 1877 and to Martin County in 1885. As
early as 1879 ranchman C. C. Slaughter ran herds on much of
eastern Gaines County from his headquarters at Rattlesnake
Canyon. C. C. Meddin, who moved his family and herd to Gaines
County in 1880, was the first permanent settler; the United
States census reported only eight people in the county in
1880. In the 1880s and 1890s other ranchers moved into the
area, including C. M. Breckon, the Brunson brothers, Bill
Anderson, Dave Ernest, Robinson and Winfield Scott of the Hat
Ranch, C. Bill Higgins of the Wishbone Ranch, J. E. Millhollon
of the MH Ranch, and the several owners of the Triangle H
Triangle north of Seminole. Until the early twentieth century
cattle raising was the only industry in the county. The
population was sixty-eight in 1890 and fifty-five in 1900,
when six ranches and 16,432 cattle were reported by the
Farming began to develop in the county after
1904, thanks to the sale of railroad land and the 1895 School
Land Act, which gave settlers the right to purchase one
section of agricultural land at two dollars an acre and three
sections of grassland at one dollar an acre. Although mesquite
was not as widespread then as now, farmers had to clear
shinnery and mesquite from the land before planting. As more
people were moving into the area, the county was formally
organized in 1905, with the new town of Seminole designated as
the county seat. A courthouse was built in the town in 1906
and a jail in 1907. By 1910, 206 farms and ranches,
encompassing 500,772 acres, had been established in Gaines
Cities, Towns and Populated Areas
* Seminole * Higginbotham *
Loop * Seagraves *
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