Gaines, John Pollard



Gaines, John Pollard




Born to Elizabeth and Abner Gaines in 1795, John P. Gaines moved with his family from Augusta County, Virginia to Boone County, Kentucky shortly thereafter. (Hanger, page 5)
Gaines volunteered for service in the The War of 1812. ("Governor John P. Gaines Obituary") After returning to Boone County, Gaines practiced law and became a member of the Kentucky State Legislature. From 1846 to 1848, he served in the Mexican War. Gaines was elected to Congress in 1847(Comer, page 6) despite being held as a prisoner of war, and his opponents' urging that “votes for Gaines might be votes for a dead man.”(Hanger, page 5)
He was then appointed Governor of the Oregon Territory by President Taylor in 1850, a position that future President Abraham Lincoln would turn down.("Abraham Lincoln...") After selling his enslaved people (including Margaret Garner) and farm in Richwood to his brother, Archibald K. Gaines, Gaines began making preparations for his long trip to Oregon. Gaines' seven-month-long journey to Oregon by ship would prove fatal, as two of his daughters died of yellow fever along the way.(Hanger, page 5) Dissent brewed in Oregon, due to the length of his absence and the rest of his term would prove just as tumultuous.("Gaines, John Pollard...") Shortly after he took office, in 1851, his wife, Elizabeth died after being thrown from a horse. He left office in 1853, but stayed in Oregon with his second wife Margaret.(Comer, page 6) Gaines died in Oregon in 1857 of typhoid fever.("Governor John P. Gaines Obituary")


Birth date

22 Sep 1795

Place of birth



Matthews, Susan Elizabeth

Life event(s)

Marriage 1: 22 Jun 1819; Woodford County (Ky.)
Marriage 2: 25 Nov 1852; Clackmas County (Or.)


Kincaid, Elizabeth
Wands, Margaret Burnsides


Gaines, Archibald Kincaid
Hanger, Anna Maria Gaines
Gaines, Abner Pendleton
Belding, Mary Elizabeth Gaines
Gaines, Matilda
Greene, Katherine Florella Hardenbaugh
Gaines, Harriet
Gaines, Florella
Gaines, Richard

Death date

9 Dec 1857

Place of death

Salem (Or.)

Death and burial information

Cause of death: Typhoid fever
Salem Pioneer Cemetery (Salem, Or.)


U.S. Congressman
Governor, Oregon Territory

Employed by

Military service

1st Regiment, Kentucky Cavalry


United States of America

Held rank


Resided in

Clackmas County (Or.)

Related resource


Known enslaved: Garner, Margaret


Enslaved held in 1820: Males, under 14, one; Males, 14 thru 25, one; Females, 26 thru 44; one
Enslaved held in 1830: Males, under 10, two; Males, 10 thru 23, one; Females, under 10, one; Females, 10 thru 23, two
Enslaved held in 1840: Males, 10 thru 23, two; Males, 24 thru 35, one; Females, under 10, two; Females, 10 thru 23, one; Females, 24 thru 35, one

Bibliographic citation(s)

"Governor John P. Gaines Obituary," Weekly Oregonian, December 15, 1857, page 2
"Abraham Lincoln: Thanks But No Thanks, Oregon Territory," Oregon Public Broadcasting, February 12, 2009.
Index To Compiled Service Records Of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During The Mexican War
Oregon, Biographical and Other Index Card File, 1700s-1900s
Appletons' Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1600-1889, page 573, memorial #6254267


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Title Alternate label Class
Garner, Margaret Person
Title Alternate label Class
Gaines, Abner Child(ren) Person