Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lilius Bratton Rainey (1876-1959)

  The politician featured today is two-term Alabama Congressman Lilius Bratton Rainey, who for many years was one of a number of "faceless" U.S. Representatives featured in the SNIAPH book I've compiled. I first discovered this oddly named man in 2002, courtesy of the politicalgraveyard website (mentioned numerous times on the site here) and for over ten years he hadn't one picture available of himself anywhere online.....that is until yesterday afternoon! With the location of a rare 1930 issue of the Alabama Historical Quarterly. a picture of this obscure congressman has finally been located!
   Lilius B. Rainey's story begins with his birth in Dadeville, Alabama on July 21, 1876, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Walker Rainey. Lilius attended school in his native Tallapoosa County and later went on to study at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute for three years. Rainey graduated from the University of Alabama in 1902 with a bachelor of laws degree and soon afterward began a law practice. In 1903 he was appointed as a Captain in the Alabama National Guard and continued active involvement here until he resigned in 1907. In July 1911 Rainey married in Rome, Georgia to Julia La Coste Smith, with whom he had four children. 
   Rainey's career in public office began in the mid-1900s when he became the Secretary of the Etowah County Democratic Executive Committee. For six years (beginning in 1911) he served as circuit solicitor for Tallapoosa County and in September 1919 was elected to his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives. This special election was to fill the seat caused by the death of John Lawson Burnett, an eleven-term Alabama congressman who had died in office in May 1919. Rainey was reelected to the house in his own right in 1921 and during his service held a seat on the Committees on Coinage, Weights and Measures, Mines and Mining, and Immigration and Naturalization.
   Lillius Rainey declined to be nominated for a third term in 1922 and after leaving Congress returned to his earlier law practice in Gadsden, Alabama. He later became a trustee of the Alabama State Department of Archives and History and was also active in a number of local fraternal organizations, including the Masons, Shriners, and the Knights of Pythias. He died in Gadsen on September 19, 1959, at age 83 and was laid to rest the Glenwood Cemetery in Fort Payne, Alabama.

           A second rare portrait of Lilius B. Rainey, probably taken during his first term in Congress.

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