Gaines County History and Demography
Organized in October 1905, Gaines County was named for James Gaines, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and signer of the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Texas. Mr. Gaines represented Sabine County in the Congress of the Republic of Texas. Gaines County was created in August 1876, and was partly surveyed by D.L. Cunningham in 1879. At the time Gaines County contained 1,590 square miles.
The history of Gaines County is reflected in the presence and arrival of four cultural influences. The first group to influence our county was the Native Americans, mostly Comanche, who roamed and lived all over the Plains country of Texas. The second group that had a significant impact was the early pioneers, the farmers and ranchers of mostly European descent who moved in behind the US Army who cleared the Plains of the Native Americans. Following soon behind the early pioneers were Hispanic settlers who came to work on the farms and ranches. The latest influence, starting in the mid-1970s, has been the influx of German settlers, primarily of the Mennonite faith, who have come to Gaines County from Mexico and Canada.
With the arrival of the early pioneers the economy of Gaines County centered on ranching and farming. Seagraves was a very important rail hub in the cattle industry, at one point transshipping more cattle than Fort Worth. However, in the 1930’s oil was found in the county, with production getting underway in 1935. By the 1950’s petroleum was becoming a major player in our economy. Currently, Gaines County has petroleum and agriculture as our primary economic engines.
Today, Gaines County covers an area of 1,479 square miles, with an elevation ranging from 3,000 to 3,600 feet above sea level. The average rainfall is between 15 and 16 inches per year. The average low temperature is 16o F in January, and the average high is 94o F in July.
Gaines County has two incorporated communities, Seminole and Seagraves. Located near the physical center of the county, Seminole, the County Seat, is the largest community, with an approximate population of . Seagraves is located near the north central border of the county and has a population of approximately. Gaines County is a leader in the state for the production of peanuts, cotton, oil, and natural gas.