From the Atlanta Constitution, November 1, 1898.
Featured on the Strangest Names in American Political History's Facebook page back on August 4th, Dade County, Georgia resident Gaines Webster Marquis Tatum represented his home county in the Georgia House of Representatives for four terms and served two terms in the state senate. Despite his long service in his state's legislature, little information could be located on him, excepting a few brief biographical lines in a July 19, 1891 edition of the Atlanta Constitution. Born in Dade County on November 25, 1852, Gaines W.M. Tatum was the son of Col. Robert Haley and Louise (Sulton) Tatum.
A student in the common schools of Dade, Tatum had earned a modest fortune by the time he reached twenty years of age, having done contracting work with the Rising Town Iron Manufacturing Company. In the mid 1870s he married to Louise Gray (1857-1936), and the couple's lengthy union saw the births of several children, including Willie (1876-1892), Russell Fleming (1878-1958), Thomas Dabney (born 1879), Webster (1884-1958), Allen (died in infancy in 1895), Edward Turner (1895-1955) and Marion Shook (1897-1900).
Following his marriage, Tatum farmed, raised livestock, and is recorded as having had substantial mining interests in the Walker County area. In 1885 he made his first run for the Georgia legislature but was defeated by incumbent representative Shadrach Hale. Two years later Tatum made another run for the legislature and was this time successful, and during the 1889-90 session introduced a bill to "amend an act to prohibit the working of convicts of this state at night, and for other purposes." He would win a second term in 1889 and during the 1890-91 session chaired the committee on Manufactories and served on the committees on Banks, Wild Lands, the Penitentiary and Special Judiciary.
Gaines W. M. Tatum would serve two more terms in the Georgia state house from 1892-94 and 1898-1900. From 1894-1896 and 1900-1902 he represented Georgia's 44th senatorial district in the state senate, where during the former session he chaired the Mines and Mining committee and was a member of the committee on the Academy of the Deaf and Dumb, Immigration and Labor, Privileges and Elections, Public Schools, and Railroads.
Tatum' s life following his final Senate term remains largely a mystery, excepting a 1918 notice detailing his discovering large seams of coal on Lookout Mountain in Georgia. Gaines W.M Tatum died in Trenton, Georgia on June 15, 1930, aged 77. He was survived by his wife Louise, and both were interred at Trenton's Baptist Cemetery.
From the July 19, 1891 Atlanta Constitution.