Robert was the oldest of Major M. and Mary Ann "Polly" (Turrentine) Gillian's ten children. He was in his late teens when his parents moved to the top of a mountain about sixteen miles north of Clarksville. They were the first settlers on what became known as Gillian Mountain.
Family sources say Major killed a man in Tennessee, after which he left and hid in Arkansas for four years. He slipped back to Tennessee and secretly moved his family out in the middle of the night. They lived in Alabama for several years, where six children were born from 1833 to 1843. In 1844, they were on Gillian Mountain for the birth of their last child, Mary. For two years they camped between two black gum trees while building a double log house, one and a half stories high. Robert's mother became known as "Granny Gillian."
Other settlers moved to the mountain, and in 1872, the little settlement was named Ozone by the postmaster, Mrs. Delia McCracken. There was also a "Gillian School" a few miles from Ozone, which closed on a Friday afternoon in 1913 and consolidated with the Ozone School. The old building is still there, but is now on privately fenced land.
Robert married Elmira "Ellen" Marilda Woodward in Johnson Co, AR, on December 7, 1855. He was described as a "handsome" man with golden-red hair and black eyes. He also was known for being a good dancer.
According to James K. Gillian, his g-grandparents, Robert and Ellen, lived in a cabin near Walnut Creek near Walnut Cemetery. James's brother, Leon, said their property was located between Walnut and Salus. From that description, the cabin would have been located in Newton County.
William Francis, their first son, was born on their first wedding anniversary, December 7, 1856. Two more sons followed: George Washington, born August 13, 1858, and David H. born February 08, 1860. Their last child, Eliza Angeline, was born February 28, 1862.
Robert's descendants claim that he served on the Union side during the Civil War. Ellen had to deal with the abusive effects of the war. One day, when she was home alone with the children, raiders stopped by the house looking for anything of value. Years later she would tell her grandchildren they took a jacket with her only needle pinned inside.
Robert was killed by raiders possibly in 1864. Some descendants say he was home recuperating from wounds, and others believe he was home on furlough. Various versions of this event by his descendants are:
(1) Robert had been wounded in battle and was home recuperating when raiders came by the house and killed him. Ellen hid their children under a mattress while she ran for help. Some believe her brother, "Drew" Woodward, was responsible, either as a member of the raiders or one who directed them to the house.
(2) Robert was home on furlough for a few days. He was splitting rails for a fence when a group of six raiders came by and "jumped" him. He used the fence posts as weapons and got the best of them. They told him he hadn't seen the last of them and came back armed with guns. He hid Ellen and the children under the bed and shoved a feather mattress in front of them hoping that would stop any bullets. He threw the door open and said, "You'll get me, but I'll get some of you first," and he did, before he was shot and killed. Some descendants believe one of the men with the raiders was Ellen's brother, Drew Woodward.
(3) Robert was home on furlough when forty bushwhackers surrounded the house. He stepped out on the front porch and shot one of the men before being shot himself. Before he died he said two of the men were Newtons. (The Roster of McRae's Mounted Infantry lists two men by the name of Newton.)
One of Robert's descendants has the bloodstained homespun shirt he was wearing when he was shot.
The land where their cabin once stood is on private property, fenced to keep out trespassers. Joe Tate, the former owner of the property who died in 1988, was described as a recluse, and for reasons known only to himself, was reluctant to allow access to the site. However, at least on one occasion he permitted Gillian descendants, to view the old home site and gave details he had heard about Robert's murder. The cabin has long since decayed and returned to the elements. All that remains are old weathered foundation stones, amidst weeds, which serves as a reminder to Gillian descendants of that tragic event.
Robert was buried in an unmarked grave in Cazort Springs on what is now known as Elsie Nelson's farm. Cazort Springs, a tract of land in Ozone, got its name from the Cazort family who bought the place to spend their summers.
Elmira Ellen Woodward Vance (1839 - 1914)*
William Francis Gillian (1856 - 1927)*
David H Gillian (1860 - 1887)*
Eliza Angeline Gillian Pair (1862 - 1938)*
Specifically: Buried in Cazort Springs in unmarked grave on what is now known as Elsie Nelson's farm
Created by: Virginia Brown
Record added: Apr 23, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 36221487