Gaines, Myra Clark (1805–1885)

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Gaines, Myra Clark (1805–1885)

American litigant. Name variations: Myra Whitney. Born June 1805, in New Orleans, Louisiana; died Jan 9, 1885, in New Orleans; dau. of Daniel Clark (1st territorial representative for Louisiana to US Congress, 1806–08) and Marie Julie Carrière; m. William Wallace Whitney, Sept 13, 1832 (died 1837); m. Gen. Edmund Pendleton Gaines (commander of Department of the West), April 19, 1839 (died 1849); children: (1st m.) 3.

Learned of parentage as adult and filed suit to be declared legal heir (1835); had claim to legitimacy upheld by US Supreme Court, in one of several rulings related to case (1861); because of outbreak of Civil War and further appeals, died before city of New Orleans paid judgment of $576,707 (1891), 56 years after filing of 1st suit.

See also Nolan B. Harmon Jr., The Famous Case of Myra Clark Gaines (Louisiana State University Press, 1946).