Roane County, Tennessee

a genealogy & local history page concerning the family & descendants of Robert GILLILAND, Roane County, Tennessee pioneer by the author the tn type set of  tennessee genealogy sites

Roane County, Tennessee Pioneer

ROBERT GILLILAND, b est 1770-1776 (unk location), d bet Aug 1794 and Jul 1796, Knox Co, TN? [in a portion that would become Roane County in 1801]
MARY "POLLY" BRASHEAR b. 13 March 1776 NC [likely], d. 1819 Roane Co.

The couple had two children: Robert Samuel GILLILAND, the second Sheriff of Roane County, and Jane (GILLILAND), wife of Rev. Gray HAGGARD. Both were likely born in the Roane County area.

(After Robert's death, Polly GILLILAND married Daniel MASON in 1797 in Roane County, and they had three children.)

Robert GILLILAND and his wife Mary "Polly" BRASHEAR migrated to the area that would become Roane County, Tennessee about the same time as Polly's father Robert Samuel BRASHEAR and many of her siblings and their spouses. This "clan" is believed to have been the first white settlers in the future county. Both Robert GILLILAND and Robert Samuel BRASHEAR, his father-in-law, recorded deeds in Knox County (for future Roane County area lands) in Aug 1794. Existing treaties made their homesteads technically located within Indian territory.

Research of Dawnelle Giles Loiselle

Analysis and data layout © 2006-2007 Dawnelle Giles Loiselle

INTRODUCTION to these "WORKING" genealogy research notes:

The following genealogy notes are a working, ongoing attempt to place/locate Robert GILLILAND, a paternal 4th great grandfather of mine, before he shows up in Roane County, Tennessee records. I found a land abstract for GILLILAND on the Saluda River in SC and began seeing if there could be a possible connection to my own GILLILAND ancestors. Land sales and census data indicate a possible migration pattern and may help place Robert GILLILAND with other GILLILAND men. Presently (as of 27 Jan 2007), Robert GILLILAND's birth family is unknown, and his past before his marriage to Mary "Polly" BRASHEARS (at an unknown date and place) is a real puzzler. Some of the information in these current notes grew out of the research of Snyder Roberts, some of which is published on Pat Roberts McDonald's Roots of Roane County website [ ]. Also view the original Roberts work: Roberts, Snyder E., Roots of Roane County Tennessee 1792, Roane County Publishing Co, PO Box 610, 204 Franklin St, Kingston TN 37763, pages 135-136 (under Robert S. Brashear, Patriarch of the Clan, Part II)

All of the BRASHEAR and ROBERTS activity centered around land on the Saluda River is very interesting to me, given the presence of a Robert GILLILAND in Greenville Co, SC in the 1790 census and in light of the following land transaction information, to which I alluded earlier:

Greenville Co. SC Deeds,1786-1913, Index C-308: Title bond presented in court May, 1793, proven by oath of Robert Maxwell Esq., recorded 28 June 1793. Bond of Robert Gilliland Sr, Robert Gilliland Jr, and William Gilliland, all of Greenville Co. SC, for £500, in dollars at 4 sh. & 8 pence to the dollar, &c, 28 Dec. 1792; they to cause a good title in fee simple to 251 acres granted Alexander Gilliland 3 July 1780 on N. side Saluda River in the Antient District of 96 now Washington Dist., Greenville Co., adj. W. on said river, South on Jesse Duncan, East on land laid out to Joseph Reed, and North on land granted James Nicholson Esq on which Hatter (Stratter?) Ally now lives, title to be made before 25 Jan. 1801 to Samuel Johnston late of VA now of this county; /s/ Robert (R) Gilliland Sr?, Robert Gilliland, William Gilliland; wit. Rt. Maxwell, L. Tarrant. (Source: FHL film 24,013)

GILLILAND researchers quickly become aware that variant spellings for the GILLILAND surname abound: GILILAND, GILLILAN, GILLELAND, GILLIALAND, GILLILEN & GILLELIN (both in SC census entries in 1790), GILLALAN, GULLILAND (Rabun Co, GA)...


Robert GILLILAND's parentage remains uncertain. He is believed by some GILLILAND and BRASHEAR family researchers to be a son of John and Elizabeth (YOUNG) GILLILAND who are found in early Cocke County, Tenneessee. The following note is from "Roane Ramblings," published by the Roane County Genealogical Society (Vol. 14, No. 2, Summer 1998). It was submitted by Wanda Alexander, Appleton, Missouri:

"Robert Gilliland was probably the eldest son of John [GILLILAND], (1735-1798 in what is now Cocke Co, TN), and Elizabeth (Young) Gilliland. Both that John GILLILAND and his father-in-law were in the battle of Kings Mountain. There is a possibility that Robert could have been the son of a James GILLILAND who came from Ireland as a soldier in the British Army with a brother, William [GILLIAND]. James also had a James [GILLILAND] and a David [GILLILAND]. Additional work is needed here."
Cursory examinations of family files for John GILLILAND and Elizabeth Young GILLILAND's son Robert Young GILLILAND does not completely convince me that "my" Robert GILLILAND's paternity lies with that particular Robert's father. As the original poster has suggested, however, more research is needed....

An Alexander GILLILAND is granted 251 acres on the north side of the Saluda River in Greenville Co, SC (see title bond above)


from Pat McDonald's page on Elias ROBERTS & Rebecca [BRASHEAR dau of Robert S BRASHEAR & Phoebe NICKS BRASHEAR] of Roane:

"In 1785, Robert Samuel BRASHEAR received a patent for 402 acres of land on Saluda River in SC, Presumably,[his daughter] Rebecca would have been living with him at that ...".


a note from Pat McDonald's page introducing the ROBERTS of Roane Co:
The marriage of Zaccheus Roberts and Nancy BRASHEAR [dau of Robert Samuel & Phoebe (NICKS) BRASHEAR] [took place near the mouth of George's Creek on the Saluda River near Greenville, SC in 1788. ...

and a note from Pat McDonald, on her Zacceus ROBERTS page:
Zaccheus ROBERTS and Nancy BRASHEAR married on Saluda River, SC, [in 1788] near the mouth of the creek they
called George's Creek. Note: Zaccheus' Military File has mixed in with
his records, ...


from Pat McDonald's page with RS Roberts Notes... Notes for Robert Samuel ROBERTS:
Robert Samuel ROBERTS, son of Elias ROBERTS and Rebecca BRASHEAR, daughter of Robert Samuel BRASHEAR and Phoebe (NICKS) BRASHEAR was born 1789 at the mouth of George's Creek and Saluda River in what is now Pickens County, between the cities of
and ...


The following GILLILAND men mentioned in the deed index are found in Greenville County, SC's 1790 census:

Robert Gilliland, Micropublication M637_11, p 121, orig p 40:
11th entry from the top of the page:
head of household Robert GILLILAND: 2 white males 16 and over; 3 free white males under 16 years old;  4 white females including heads of family; 0 other persons being free; 0 slaves.
Source: 1790 US census,  Greenville,  South Carolina; NARA micropublication: M637_ 11; Page:  121 (orig p 40 handwritten); Image:  87; FHL film:  0568151.

William Gilliland, Micropublication M637_11, p 106, orig p 25:
head of household William Gilliand
number of free white males ages 16 and older: 1
number of free white males under the age of 16: 0
number of free white females: 1
number of all other free persons: 0
number of slaves: 0

Also in Greenville SC in 1790:

John Gilliland, Micropublication M637_11, p 111, orig p 30:
head of household John Gilliand
number of free white males ages 16 and older: 1
number of free white males under the age of 16: 1
number of free white females: 2
number of all other free persons: 0
number of slaves: 0


David Gilliland, Micropublication M637_11, p 90, orig p 9:
head of household David Gilliand
number of free white males ages 16 and older: 1
number of free white males under the age of 16: 4
number of free white females: 3
number of all other free persons: 0
number of slaves: 0

I haven not yet found a second Robert Gilliland in Greenville SC for 1790, but in Laurens, SC, there is the following:
Robert Gilliland, Micropublication M637_1, 439, orig p 11
Laurens, SC (no township listed ) - 1790:
head of household Robert Gilliland
number of free white males ages 16 and older: 2
number of free white males under the age of 16 0
number of free white females: 4
number of all other free persons 0
number of slaves 0

Note: ..............
Additional notes (31 Jan 2007):
Reminder: The 1790 census taker was to include the head of household in the enumeration of white males ages 16 and older.

In 1790, Robert Samuel BRASHEAR as Robert Samuel BARSHER is enumerated in Ninety-Six District, Pendleton County, SC

Near him - also in Ninety-Six District, Pendleton County, SC - are Elias ROBERTS and John GILLILIN, who is enumerated two individuals before Elias ROBERTS (and five individuals after William SATERFIELD, seven after Robert SATERFIELD

Ninety-Six District, Greenville County, SC (1790):
(nearby - after above - same column in book:) GILLILAND, John (see data above)
and same book page - Robert GILLILAND
(see data above)
[Last viewed source for this census note: 1790 Census of North Carolina,
US Bureau of the Census, 1983. Repository: Prince George's County Genealogical Society, Bowie MD (Call# F0253.U5)]

The Robert Gilliland who appeared in Greenville's 1790 census is not found in the 1800 census there. The Robert Gilliland who appeared in the Laurens, SC census for 1790 is also in its 1800 census, giving me a strong hunch that Greenville, SC's 1790 Robert Gilliland is "our" Robert Gilliland despite the problems connected with the number of males and females and their ages that the entry engenders.


A Robert GILLILAND, Sr, a Robert GILLILAND, Jr, and a William GILLILAND - all ofof Greenville County, South Carolina - stand title bond for the land on the granted to Saluda RiverAlexander GILLILAND in 1780 (a title which was to be made before 25 Jan 1801 - see the Greenville Co, SC deed abstract above)

The significance of the late 1792 title bond transaction concerning the GILLILAND land on the Saluda River (above) in South Carolina is suggested by Robert GILLILAND's purchase of land in Knox County, Tennessee in 1794 (see below). It appears that he and many of his wife Mary BRASHEAR's relatives migrated from both the Greenville and Pendleton areas of South Carolina into east Tennessee with the BRASHEAR family patriarch Robert Samuel BRASHEAR some time between 1792 and 1793. Robert GILLILAND may even have gone first. As Pat Roberts indicates, Robert Samuel BRASHEAR himself had owned land on the Saluda River (the 1785 transaction noted in the chronology above).


from Pat McDonald's page on the Alexander MAHAN Family:
Margaret "Peggy" BRASHEAR [dau of Robert Samuel & Phoebe (NICKS) BRASHEAR] and "Alexander MAHAN lived on an adjoining farm to her father's on Saluda River in SC in 1793. They sold their farm, and came with Robert Samuel BRASHEAR and other family members to Roane County "in 1794, or soon after"

8 Aug 1794

Knox Co, TN land records data places Robert GILLILAND in an area of Knox County that would become part of Roane County, Tennessee on 8 Aug 1794:

Family historian Charles Brashear writes,

On 8 Aug 1794, Robert Gilliland bought 640 acres on the north side of Clinch River, with Elias Roberts (his brother-in-law) as witness ([citing] Knox Co, TN, Deed Book C, p.22)."

That same August day, along with brothers-in-law Elias ROBERTS and Phillip BRASHEARS, Robert GILLILAND was witness to his father-in-law Robert Samuel BRASHEAR's purchase of 640 acres below Poplar Creek from William Reed and Abraham Swaggerty. The lands were situated in what would become Roane County, Tennessee (Knox Co, TN Deed Book C, pg. 15). (At the time of these purchases, the lands still lay within the Hiwassee District, so it appears that at the time of purchase, the transactions weren't strictly legal.)

Family researchers should also note Robert GILLILAND's daughter Jane (GILLILAND) HAGGARD says in an 1843 Roane County, TN record to which her brother Sheriff Robert Samuel GILLILAND attested that Robert GILLILAND died about 1794, leaving her land in Roane County (Source: Loose records, "HAGGARD, Jane by her next friend, R.S. GILLILAND vs. Gray HAGGARD & others [Robert GILLILAND Heirs], 1843-1844," Roane County Heritage Commission [RCHC], Kentucky Street, Kingston, Roane Co, TN [viewed and photographed Sep 2003])


In July 1796, court records indicate that Mary "Polly" (BRASHEAR) GILLILAND was appointed adminstratrix of her husband Robert GILLILAND's estate. A John GILLILAND, whose relationship to Robert GILLILAND has not yet been established, and Mary's brother-in-law Elias ROBERTS stood bond for her.


In March 1797, Mary "POLLY" (BRASHEAR) GILLILAND, widow of Robert GILLILAND and mother of at least two children with him - Jane [GILLILAND] HAGGARD and Robert Samuel GILLILAND) - married DANIEL MASON, with whom she subsequently had three children. [See online source file at, accessible 29 Jan 2007]


from Pat McDonald's page on Elizabeth BRASHEARS [dau of Robert Samuel & Phoebe (NICKS) BRASHEAR] & Jeremiah SATTERFIELD:
On 12 Nov 1799, James SATTERFIELD sold, for $100.00, 167 acres originally granted 6 June 1791 to Stephen RICE, being on Brush Creek of Saluda River, ...


Additional information I recently uncovered online but haven't yet investigated further includes the following (all italics and bolding formats, the linear list of John's [b 1750] children, and all editorial comments in brackets were added here):

"From the book: The Loving Irish, p 199d
John Gilliland born in 1700's in Ireland, migrated to York Co., PA, married Jane, died in P.A. They had 4 sons
1. James [Gilliland] b. 1 Aug 1745 York Co. PA, d. VA. m. Hannah = 1. David 2. John Berry
2. Samuel [Gilliland] b. 16 Nov 1747 York Co. PA, d. PA m. Eleanor Vance = 1. Jane 2. Annie 3. John b. 6 Jun 1791 4. Sam 5. Sarah
3. John [Gilliland] b. 13 Apr 1750 York Co. PA, d. 12 Apr 1836 m. Hannah
[Children} =
1. Matthew [Gilliland]
2. Andrew [Gilliland]
3. Robin [Gilliland]
4. John [Gilliland] b. 1794 d. 1862 [this might be the deathdate for David [Gilliland] (next) instead - it's hard for me to tell by the position on the page]
5. David [Gilliland]
6. James [Gilliland]
7. Margaret [Gilliland]
8. William [Gilliland]
9. Robert [Gilliland]
10. Samuel [Gilliland]
11. Alexander [Gilliland]
4. William [Gilliland] b. 12 Jun 1753 York Co., PA d. 7 Jul 1817 m. 1. Elizabeth McIlvain 2. Margaret McCundy"

Notice also, however, the following from the same compiler (Gililland Research):

p3: 'John Gilliland b. 1706 Antrim Co., Ireland d. Chester Co., PA, m. Hester Romar of Holland. Children: Thomas [GILLILAND]- KY; Hugh [GILLILAND]; Adam [GILLILAND] 1800 census KY; Andrew [GILLILAND]; Robt [GILLILAND]; John & James [GILLILAND]pensioned in TN; Jane [GILLILAND]; Mary[GILLILAND]; Sarah[GILLILAND].'

Therefore we have a clash between John [GILLILAND]of Ireland who married Hester and John [GILLILAND] of Ireland who married Jane. Both had son John [GILLILAND] about the same time. Both died in PA."

[Source for above quoted GILLILAND family information: Alvy Ray Smith, Seattle, WA File dated 16 Aug 2006; accessed 22 Aug 2006.]
Note that two of the reputed sons of Chester County, PA's Hester and John GILLILAND (who was born in Ireland)are noted to have been pensioned in Tennessee - John & James GILLILAND. What caught my attention in online search results in the first place was a listing for a Mary Ann GILLILAND who married a LOWE whose family was known to have lived near the Saluda River, including Mary Ann GILLILAND LOWE's brother-in law Barnabus LOWE:

"Barnabus Fair Lowe (M)
b. 4 November 1788

Barnabus was born at Saluda, Saluda, South Carolina, USA, on 4 November 1788.1,2 He was the son of Pvt WILLIAM LOWE and MARGARET FAIR (FARR). He married Margaret Carlock (Carelock) at Logan, Kentucky, USA, on 3 February 1806. On reverse side of Webb's John-Agnes Gililland family group record:

"Simpson Co. and Logan Co. KY & Warren Co. KY. Marriage Records
Mary Anne Lowe Gilleland m. John De Berry - 3 Jun 1800
Mary Ann Gilliland m John Low 24 Jul 1803
Charity Lowe Gilleland m. James Butler 3 Mar 1802
Alexander Gilleland m. Susanna Stroader 12 Jun 1804
Barnabas Lowe m. Margaret Carlock 13 Feb 1806
Jenny Gilliland m. David Settle 14 Dec 1807
Elizabeth Gilleland m. Moses Chaney 24 Dec 1918
John Gilleland m. Agnes Lowe 15 Jun 1812"

Pamela Butler gives 3 Feb 1806, Logan Co KY Margaret Carlock (Carelock).3,2 He married Pamela Childress at Nacogdoches, Texas, USA, on 2 February 1843. First wife died in 1840.4,2


1. [S112] Unknown author, Maureen Webb's extensive data for LDS family records. Over 1400 individuals. Looseleaf binder of Individual Data sheets with opening letter from the author dated 10 Dec 1993. Also contains a section of xerographic reproductions of dozens of family photos., RIN 624.
2. [S722] Unknown author, Extensive document entitled "Edmund Butler and Frances Cooke", by Pamela Butler, 125 West E St, Wilmington CA 90744-5531, downloaded from Family Tree Maker's Genealogy Site,, 8 Sep 1998 and again on 31 Mar 2001 (for revisions).
3. [S191] Unknown author, "John-Agnes Gililland, Family Group Record".
4. [S112] Unknown author, Maureen Webb's extensive data for LDS family records. Over 1400 individuals. Looseleaf binder of Individual Data sheets with opening letter from the author dated 10 Dec 1993. Also contains a section of xerographic reproductions of dozens of family photos., RIN 624: "Barnabus married (2) Pamela Childress."

First Families of Tennessee:

A copy of the Aug 1794 KnoxCounty, Tennessee deed book entries for Robert Samuel BRASHEAR or Robert GILLILAND act as a proofs for their (proven) descendants to qualify for a First Families of Tennessee Certificate from the East Tennessee Historical Society. Contact information:

First Families of Tennessee
c/o ETHS
PO Box 1629
Knoxville, TN 37901-1629

For additional information or questions about FFT, e-mail though ETHS does not process email queries or perform research assistance.

Early Knox Co, TN GILLILAND Marriages:

Knox County, Tennessee records show the following early GILLILAND marriages which include Robert's widow Mary's marriage to Daniel MASON:

GILLILAND, Sarah marr. ELDRIDGE, John on 02-DEC-1796
GILLILAND, Mary marr. MASON, Dan on -MAY-1796 [Mary "Polly" (BRASHEARS) GILLILAND and Daniel MASON]
GILLILAND, Mary marr. MASON, Daniel on 06-MAR-1797 [Mary "Polly" (BRASHEARS) GILLILAND and Daniel MASON]
GILLILAND, Mary marr. MASON, David on 05-MAR-1797 [I think this must also refer to Daniel MASON and not to a David MASON]
GILLILAND, James marr. RANEY, Elizabeth on 15-OCT-1801

Since we know from Robert GILLILAND's presence in Knox County deed records that he was in Tennessee before 1796, these other early GILLILANDs in the area should be investigated for possible relationships to him.

Roane County, Tennessee Kin & Kith © 2006 D. Giles Loiselle

File date: 30 Jan 2007
Updated: 1 Feb 2007

Roane County, Tennessee Kin & Kith © 2006 D. Giles Loiselle

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