From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)
Wallace A. Gaines.pdf

Gaines, Wallace Arkansas

(born: April 15, 1858  -  died: August 3, 1940) 

Born in Dayton, OH, Wallace A. Gaines moved to Covington, KY in 1875. He was appointed a U.S. Storekeeper by Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman in 1882 during President Chester A. Arthur's administration. Gaines was appointed U.S. Gauger durng President Benjamin Harrison's administration in 1889.

In 1892, he was elected a state delegate-at-large to represent the Republican State League in Buffalo, NY. In an 1898 letter from Sam J. Roberts to President McKinley, Gaines was referred to as "the most trusted Lieutenant among the Negroes in the campaigning for delegates and electoral votes and is the recognized Negro Leader of Kentucky...." Roberts was editor of the Lexington Leader and a Republican political operative.

Gaines was a loyal Republican who had campaigned for Kentucky Governor Bradley and U.S. President William McKinley. Governor Bradley rewarded Gaines' loyalty by appointing him as the Kentucky Commissioner to the Atlanta Exposition in 1895 and the Nashville Exposition in 1896. In 1898, President McKinley made Gaines a revenue agent in the Internal Revenue Service; he covered  the Kentucky and Indiana divisions. He was charged with enforcing the war revenue law in reference to mixed and adulterated flour.  

In the earlier part of his life, Gaines had a half interest in a handle factory in Sunbury, OH in 1876. In 1880, he had a second-hand store in Covington. In 1887, he was the superintendent and bookkeeper for a distillery and owned the team that hauled for the distillery. In 1889, he was elected Grand Master of the Kentucky Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten. In 1897, Gaines was elected the Supreme Grand Master of the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten. He had been head of the Kentucky branch for nine years. Gaines was also a Knight Templar Mason and had served as Grand Master of the Odd Fellows.

Gaines was living in Evansville, IN when he passed away in 1940 and was buried in the Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, KY. He was the son of Richard Gaines and Ellen Gaines Overton and the husband of Tillie Young Gaines. Wallace and Tillie  lived in Evansville. They had married in 1913 in Covington, where Tillie had been a schoolteacher. Sources: 1870 U.S. Census; "Gaines is married," Evansville Press, 7/10/1913, front page; Indiana Death Certificate local number 863, registered number 27318 (Ancestry); and Wallace A. Gaines at Find A Grave.

Wallace A. Gaines was as much a businessman as he was involved in politics. He was a funeral director of W. A. Gaines & Co., which was  incorporated in Evansville in 1918. The business had $5,000 in capital. The business directors were Gaines, his wife Tillie, and Rudolph D. O'Hara (source: "Incorporations," The Indianapolis Star, 3/26/1918, p. 15). Wallace Gaines was also a director of the Liberty Life Insurance Co. in Evansville (sources: "Incorporations," The Indianapolis Star, 2/5/1919; and "Colored insurance co. incorporates," The Evansville Press, 3/6/1919, p. 5). Gaines also owned several pieces of land. His name can be found in Indiana newspapers noting the purchase and selling of land and when he took legal action against his tenants or legal action was being taken against him.

For more see Biographical Sketches of Prominent Negro Men and Women of Kentucky, by W. D. Johnson; "Wallace Gaines," Weekly Leader, 9/8/1897, p. 2; "W. A. Gaines: well known colored man. Appointed revenue agent," The Sunday Leader, 8/21/1898, p. 8; and "Wallace Gaines: National Grand Master," The Appeal, 7/24/1909, p. 5. Quotation from p. 303 of The Racial Attitudes of American Presidents, from Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt, by G. Sinkler.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Kenton County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Covington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fort Mitchell, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Gaines, Wallace Arkansas,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 15, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-09-23 18:55:27