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After 1850 most of the area that later became Rains County fell within the boundaries of Wood County, which was represented in the state Senate by Emory Rains, an early pioneer who had served in the Congress of the Republic of Texas. In 1866 Rains lobbied for the bill that established Rains County. On June 9, 1870, the legislature approved "an Act to create and provide for the organization of the County of Rains." The bulk of the new county was taken from Wood County.
The western section, including the sites of the first settlements, came from Hunt County, and a narrow strip of land in the north was carved from Hopkins County. The act provided that the citizens should choose a county seat, to be named Emory. Springville, the largest and most centrally located community, was designated the temporary place of business for the five appointed commissioners and was later selected as the permanent county seat and renamed Emory. By 1857 the town had a store, tanning yard, and gin.
Until at least the early 1880s, when rail service was first brought to Rains County, most of the inhabitants did their business in Mineola in adjoining Wood County. A log house in Emory was used initially as a temporary county courthouse.
In 1872 a two-room wooden courthouse was erected. Seven years later the small building burned, along with all of the county records. The seat of government was moved back into the original log house until 1884, when a new brick courthouse was completed. In 1908 the courthouse was again destroyed by fire, but this time the records were saved.
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