De Graffenried, Gaines (1905–1991)

By: Roger N. Conger

Type: Biography

Published: August 1, 1995

Gaines De Graffenried, gun collector and museum curator, was born at Chilton, Texas, on August 10, 1905, the son of Fleming Taylor and Lillian (Gaines) De Graffenried. His father was a planter, cotton merchant, and banker. The family moved to Waco in 1920 but maintained the banking business in Chilton. De Graffenried attended Waco High School and after graduation worked as a cotton grader for Mason and Company. He married Ola Bradley in 1935. They had two sons. De Graffenried was trained in the business of cotton marketing but from his youth demonstrated a consuming interest in the study and collecting of antique and historic guns and weapons. He devoted the major portion of his life to this pursuit and eventually assembled one of the most extensive and valuable collections in the nation. De Graffenried was an organizer and exhibitor at some of Waco's early gun shows in the 1940s and 1950s. He was also a charter member of the Texas Gun Collectors Association. He displayed his collection at the Fort Fisher Museum in Waco. In 1973 he was a member of the commission appointed by Governor Dolph Briscoe to establish the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum at Waco. At the completion of this museum complex in 1975, he was invited to serve as its curator of exhibits, which post he occupied, without pay, until the time of his death in 1991. The city of Waco purchased a large part of his personal collection, which at one time was reported to include 700 guns, for the museum in 1989. De Graffenried died on March 21, 1991.

Roger N. Conger, Texas Collector: Gaines de Graffenried (Waco: Texian Press, 1987). Dallas Morning News, March 23, 1991.
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  • Museums
  • Museum Administrators, Curators, and Directors

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Roger N. Conger, “De Graffenried, Gaines,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995