If you would like to Thank Deana Bell for sharing the picture and transcribed dates, simply click on the above Friend of ARF Library Button. You will be
taken to a page where you will find her e-mail address, as well as an index of items that she has submitted to ARF.
Notes from Judy: Major Gillian was son of Elizabeth Gillian, who was a daughter of Major M. Gillian and Mary Grimmett. Records indicate
multiple marriages as well as divorces for Elizabeth.
View Marital Record
It is apparent that the birth year on the grave marker for Major Gillian is incorrect. He was enumerated on the
Census of 1880 Johnson County, Arkansas, Sherman Township, as Major Gillian age 3 years, along with a 9 year old brother, and a
37 year old divorced mother by the name of Elizabeth Martin; view image:
Elizabeth's son Major is recorded on the 1900 census as Major Martin born October 1876; age, 23 years...
Records indicate that Major Gillian was dead by the 4th of May, 1910. The census of 1910 Johnson County Red Lick Twp
records Elizabeth as Eliza E. Gillian, a 67 year old widow living in the household of her single son, Joseph M. Martin.
The record shows that she was the mother of 2 children, 1 child now living; view image:
Note: 1877 divorce record: '...and that the plaintiff be restored to her former and maiden name
namely Eliza E. Gillian...' Her maiden name appears on the 1900 and 1910 census, but the 1880 census does not reflect
the order to use maiden name.
The legend of Major Gillian takes off in two directions. A short version, without history previous to his death, tells
of the family carrying Major down Wood's Mountain for burial. A blinding snow storm halted the journey and they
buried him where they were forced to stop.
The other version with more details prior to his death, might have ended with the same storm, but I have never
heard an ending with mention of why he was buried where he was.
It tells of Major doing road work in Newton County and getting into a fight with a fellow worker...was such a bad
fight the sheriff was called and both ended up in the jail at Jasper. Major had a knife hid on his person and used
it on the man who shared his cell...the man died and Major Gillian was sentenced to life in the pen at
Little Rock (known as Tucker's Farm). This was to have happened in January of 1896.
Sometime later, Eliza got word that her son was near death. It is told that she walked the entire distance from
near Ozone to Little Rock, was granted a pardon for Major by the governor per her plea, went to the penitentiary, retrieved her son,
and boarded a train to Clarksville. A neighbor met her at the train station and loaded her frail son into a wagon
and hauled him up Wood's Mountain where Eliza tended to him as best she could. Major Gillian was too far gone,
he died a short time later.
The grave marker has the death year as 1913. As with the birth year, census records show that this date is also
If you would like to share pictures of the grave marker, or information on the individual buried here or another version of the tale:
Send an email to: Submit Picture and/or Info
with Gillian Burial Site, Johnson County in the subject line.
Provide information about picture or person in body of message.
Include your first and last name.
Send only one image per email.
If you would like to be listed as a Family Contact for the individual buried here, let me know. Judy Tate
Return to Johnson County Cemetery Index OR Stories and Shared Memories
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Take Care, Judy Tate