James C Gaither

James C. Gaither

James Caldwell Gaither was a prominent citizen in the history of Texas as well as several of the central counties south of Waco. He was a military and political leader who left a very favorable legacy in Texas.

James C. Gaither was born April 12, 1826 in Iredell County, NC, to Forest and Lamira (Caldwell) Gaither. The Gaither family moved progressively westward to Marengo County, AL, in 1836 and then on to Fayette County in Central Texas in 1840. After the outbreak of the Mexican War, Gaither enlisted as a first lieutenant in John C. Hays’ regiment of Texas Cavalry and entered the conflict. The unit was sent to reinforce General Winfield Scott arriving in Mexico just after the fall of Mexico City. Also in Scott’s entourage of junior officers in this campaign were Robert E. Lee, Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, James Longstreet, U.S. Grant and George Meade. Gaither survived the conflict, however his brother Carlos was killed in action.

After the war, Gaither returned to Texas to engage in the mercantile trade and purchase land. In 1848, he married Florida Townsend (born March 5, 1828 in Tallahassee, FL) daughter of Stephen Townsend and Sabrina Robinson Townsend. The newly married Gaithers began their married lives in Fayette County, TX. Together they bore and raised five children. Sabrina’s brother, Joel Robinson, was a hero at the Battle of San Jacinto in the Texas War of Independence. He was a member of the group who captured General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Joel Robinson was awarded a land grant for his service and the entire family moved to Falls County, TX. In a strange coincidence Sabrina’s brother and husband fought Santa Anna in different wars.

With the outbreak of the War Between the States, the Texas State legislature organized military companies to provide for defense. They served the State of Texas rather than the CSA and were often referred to as the Texas State Troops. Gaither served as Captain of the Round Top Guerilla Cavalry in the 22nd Brigade, reporting to General William G. Webb.

In 1873, Gaither bought land in Falls County where the town of Chilton was built. He was a school trustee at Landrum (1874-1875), and later at Chilton. He was a delegate for his county in the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1875 and went on to serve two terms in the 16th and 17th Legislatures of Texas (1878-1882). Notable in his accomplishments was authoring bills to restrict location of all land certificates to the pubic domain and another to legalize the use of barbed wire in the State. In 1879, he was appointed Superintendent of the State Orphan Asylum at Corsicana.

Gaither died March 8, 1899, and is buried next to his wife who had died six months earlier (August 27, 1898) in the Chilton Cemetery in Falls County, TX.

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