Facts and Events
William Gillham was one of the Early Settlers of Augusta County, Virginia
Information on William Gillham
William Gillham was the son of Thomas and Margaret "Peggy" Gay Campbell who lived in Calfpasture, Augusta Co., Virginia. Thomas Gillham, born c.1710, came to America from County Ulster, Northern Ireland, land of the Scotch-Irish, about 1730 with his first wife Mary Meade and one child, Charles Gillham. They had four children before she died.
Thomas Gillham married 1746-49 in Calfpasture, Augusta County, Virginia, his second wife, Margaret "Peggy" Gay Campbell, born in 1725 in Scotland, a member of the large and prominent Campbell family in the area. General William Campbell of Revolutionary War fame was a cousin of her father. Thomas and Margaret had seven children: Thomas, James, Isaac, Sarah "Sally", Susannah, William, and John. Thomas Gillham was an active and vigorous man. He is thought to have been a surveyor. He qualified as Captain of Foot, August 20, 1752, during the French and Indian War. In 1764, Thomas, Sr., secured a land grant from North Carolina Governor Tyron In Mecklenburg County. The Gillhams then sold their land in Augusta County, Virginia. There was a lengthy debate about state boundaries, and when the boundaries were finally settled, Thomas Gillham's land proved to be in what is now Union County, South Carolina. Thomas, his sons, two of his daughter's husbands, and at least one grandchild served in the American troops during the Revolutionary War. Both sons-in-law lost their lives in the War. Thomas is believed to have died between 1789-1790 in York Co., South Carolina and his grave is in Bullock's Creek Cemetery. Mary Meade died about 1740, and his second wife Margaret Campbell died in 1776.
William Campbell Gillham was the ninth child of Thomas Gillham, Sr., and the fifth by his second wife, Margaret Gay Campbell. He married about 1782 in North Carolina to Jane McDow who was born about 1758 in South or North Carolina. They had eight children: John Davidson, William Jr., Ezekiel, Agnes, Sarah, Maregaret, Mary, and Jane.
William fought in the Revolutionary War and was a Sergeant in South Carolina Militia in Grandon's Regiment before and after the fall of Charleston. In Stub Entries to Indents he was issued on the 27 September '85 for five pound fourteen and three pence for a horse & saddle & bridle lost in 1780.
Most of Thomas Gillham's children and grandchildren succumbed to the lure of western lands and joined the great migration into Georgia, Kentucky, and Illinois. Four of Thomas' sons and over 30 of his grandchildren representing at least 10 of the families of his 11 children moved to what is now Madison County, Illinois. En route, a number of the families stopped off in Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Why Illinois became the land of promise for the Gillhams rests upon a very dramatic story. While living in Kentucky, James Gillham, a son of Thomas Gillham, Sr., and one of the first members of the family to move west, was subject to a raid from a tribe of Kickapoo Indians while living in Illinois. While seeking out and ransoming his family, James saw the Illinois country and was attracted to it. He later settled there and encouraged brothers, relatives and friends to come also.
William and Jane emigrated to the Six Mile Prairie, east of St. Louis, after his brother James had recovered his family from the Indians. William's brothers who also moved there were Isaac, John, and Thomas. They settled in the American Bottom and all four brothers are buried in Wanda Cemetery, South Roxana, Madison County. In 1824, the Convention (slavery) Party owed their defeat to a great extent to the Gillham family and their kinsmen in Illinois, who almost in a solid phalanx gave five hundred votes against slavery at the election that declared this a free state.
In 1823, William and his family located in Lofton's Prairie, Jersey County. William was the father-in-law of John G. Lofton who married Agnes, and John McDow, who married Margaret. William died at the home of his son John Davidson Gillham on 27 October 1825 and is buried in East Newbern Cemetery.
We owe our gratitude and respect to Thomas Gillham and his family who have established the foundation of America by their love of freedom, fighting prowess, pioneer toughness, and family fortitude. We mark and dedicate William Gillham's grave so that he is not forgotten and future generations will know his service to our country.