Thomas Lorenzi Rainwater was the second of three children born to Ransom Edward and H. E. Rainwater. He was born in September 1857 in Texas1. He had an older brother, William Henry, born ca 1854 in Mississippi, and a sister, known only as S. A., who was born ca 1858 in Texas.
His father, Ransom Edward Rainwater is something of a mystery. Born in Alabama to William Rainwater and Caroline Davis, Ransom had moved with his father and siblings to Mississippi in the 1840s, and had then migrated to Texas in the mid-1850s. It’s not clear where he married his wife and she is known to her descendants only by the initials found in the family’s 1860 census record. In 1862, Ransom E. Rainwater enlisted in Company A Texas 18th Confederate Infantry from Cherokee Co., Texas, and the family is listed on the Confederate Indigent List from Cherokee County in 1864.
Apparently both Ransom and his wife died between 1864 and 1870, leaving three orphaned children who were sent to live with relatives or friends of the family. S. A. Rainwater, called "Little Sister" by her brothers, was killed when the wagon she was riding in tipped over. According to family legend, she was buried by the side of the road where the accident occurred. Thomas L. and William eventually lost track of one another. William Henry Rainwater remained in Texas, married and had four children.
Thomas Lorenzi Rainwater is found in the 1870 census in the household of Rev. Jesse Carter in Rusk, Cherokee Co., Texas. by 1880, he had moved to Arkansas and is found in the Scott County household of Elisha Paine. He married Sarah Elizabeth Hisaw in 1881. The couple had nine children: William H., born June 1881; Thomas N., born Dec 1884; Edward Jefferson, born Aug 1887; Dona M., born Nov 1889; twins Earl E. and Pearl, born Sep 1892; Della, born Dec 1895; Benjamin M., born May 1900; and Mamie Lee, born Jun 1903 and died Sep 1908. Benjamin and Mamie were born after the family moved into Indian Territory, later called Oklahoma.
Towards the end of his life, Thomas Lorenzi Rainwater reestablished contact with his brother William and the two corresponded. Family tradition holds that Thomas was planning a trip to Texas for a reunion when he passed away on 7 Jan 1910. He is buried in Sand Springs Cemetery in Haskell Co., Oklahoma. His brother, William, died ca 1925, and is buried in Crews Cemetery, in Runnels Co., Texas.
Thomas Lorenzi Rainwater is remembered by his desecendants as a difficult, rather harsh man with a violent streak in his personality. Undoubtedly he was a product of the unfortunate circumstances of his life – the early loss of his parents, the violence of the Civil War, the roughness of the Texas frontier.
1 The 1860 and 1870 census records give his birthplace as Texas, but the 1900 census says Mississippi. A newspaper article positively locates the family in Texas by 1857, making Texas the more likely of the two states.
© 2018 Susan Chance-Rainwater
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License