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GILLIAM, JOHN O., M. D.
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GILLIAM, JOHN O., M. D.
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GILLIAM, JOHN O., M. D.
Geraldine Olson KING
Posted: 1 Oct 1999 12:00PM GMT
Edited: 23 Jun 2001 3:50PM GMT
GILLIAM, MARTIN, WOODSON, WEBB, HARPER, BRUSHINGHAM, TINDALL, COTNER, SIGMON, LARGEN, HATIFIELD
JOHN O. GILLIAM, M. D.
VOL. 5, p. 1816
Well may Doctor Gilliam be termed a pioneer of pioneers in what is now the State of Oklahoma, and it has been given him to wield much influence in connection with civic and industrial progress in Carter County, where he established his residence at Berwyn nearly forty years ago and where he became one of the first physicians and most influential citizens of the frontier community. He still maintains his home at Berwyn and here conducts a well appointed drug store, the while he finds it impossible to retire definitely from the practice of his profession, owing to the insistent demand made for his ministrations on the part of families to whom he has long been a guide, counselor and friend. It is specially gratifying to be able to present in this publication a review of the career of Doctor Gilliam, whose life has been one of signal usefulness and deep humanitarian spirit.
Dr. John Overstreet Gilliam was born in Chariton County, Missouri, on the 17th of August, 1849, and is a son of James A. and Martha Ann (MARTIN) Gilliam, both natives of the historic Old Dominion State and both persons of superior intellectual attainments. James A. Gilliam was born on the old family homestead on the banks of the Appomattox River, in Eastern Virginia, and the year of his nativity was 1820, his death having occurred in Saline County, Missouri, in 1905. He was reared and educated in Virginia, where his marriage was solemnized and where he continued to be identified with agricultural pursuits until his removal to Missouri. In the latter state he became a pioneer of Chariton County, and there he long held precedence as a progressive and successful farmer, planter and stockgrower. He held an appreciable number of slaves and not only raised tobacco but also became a dealer in this product, on an extensive scale. When well advanced in years he removed to Saline County, where he continued to reside until his death. He was an inflexible advocate of the principles of the democratic party, was a Royal Arch Mason and both he and his wife, who died in Chariton County, Missouri, were earnest member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. His father, William Gilliam, was a wealthy planter and slaveholder on the Appomattox River in Virginia, where he was specially prominent as a grower of tobacco, and where he continued to reside until his death, which was the result of virtual starvation, owing to his being afflicted with the severest type of dyspepsia. He was a descendant of one of two brothers who came from England and settled in Virginia in the Colonial period of our national history. Anthony WOODSON, an uncle of Doctor Gilliam of this review, was a soldier in the War of 1812, and the heavy cannonading incidental to the battle of Norfolk destroyed the drums of both of his ears, so that thereafter he was totally deaf.
As a youth Doctor Gilliam, who was signally favored in being reared in a home of distinctive culture, was afforded the advantages of an academy at Keytesville, the judicial center of his native county, and this discipline was supplemented by his attendance in William Jewell college, in Ray County, Missouri, and Central University, a Missouri institution conducted under the auspices of the Methodist Church. In the latter college his training was advanced to the point that made him eligible for the reception of the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and in the institution he also availed himself of the advantages of the medical department. Leaving college in 1872, Doctor Gilliam thereafter gave his attention to farm work and the reading of medicine and surgery and was well equipped for the practical work of the profession which has been dignified and honored by his services.
On the 5th of August, 1876, Doctor Gilliam came to Indian Territory and established his residence at Berwyn, where he engaged in the practice of medicine and also assumed the direction of the Indian school, in which he was a successful and popular teacher. At that time there were nine schools maintained for the Indians in the Chickasaw Nation, and the office of teacher in the same was a position much sought, there being avid competition, owing to the fact that the teacher was paid a salary of $45 a month, which was looked upon as a large emolument under the conditions obtaining at the time. Doctor Gilliam proved his ability and was chosen from a number of competitors, his service as teacher of the Indian school having thereafter continued for a period of three years. Thereafter he gave his attention to the active practice of medicine for a term of twelve years, and in the meanwhile he became the owner of 1,100 acres of land in what is now Carter County. In 1880 he instituted the improvement of this property and established his home on the pioneer ranch of which he still retains 400 acres, given over to diversified agriculture and the raising of excellent grades of livestock.
In July, 1915, Doctor Gilliam purchased of his son-in-law, Dr. James W. WEBB, the drug store at Berwyn, and he now conducts the store, which was established many years ago and is the only one in the village. When Doctor Gilliam retired from the active practice of his profession, nearly a quarter of a century ago, he sold his stock of drugs and medicines to the proprietor of the drug store of which he himself is now the owner, it being interesting to note that certain of his original medicines are still to be found on the shelves of the establishment. Concerning the former, owner, Doctor Webb, individual mention made on other pages of this work.
In politics Doctor Gilliam has always been found strongly aligned as a supporter of the cause of the Democratic Party, with well fortified convictions concerning matters of economic and governmental policy. He served one year as mayor of Berwyn and in the territorial days he served also as a member of the school board, an office of which he was the incumbent one year. His religious views are in harmony with the tenets of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, which he attends and liberally supports. He is affiliated with Berwyn Lodge No. 59, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and served eight years as master of the same. In this time-honored fraternity the doctor has received also the thirty-second degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, and is affiliated with Indian Consistory No. 2 at McAlester. He holds membership also in the Berwyn Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Doctor Gilliam has been thrice married. In 1872, in Charition County, Missouri, he wedded Miss Lizzie HARPER, and she died at Berwyn, Indian Territory, in 1879. Three children were born of this union: Robert, who died at the age of thirty-two years, he having been a prosperous farmer, Mary Pauline, who died at Berwyn June 16, 1915, her thirty-eighth birthday anniversary; and Alva Edward, who was killed by lightning when he was twenty years of age.
In 1880 Doctor Gilliam married Susan BRUSHINGHAM, an orphan of Part Chickasaw Indian blood, she having been well educated in the schools of Kansas, and her death having occurred in 1891. Concerning the children of this marriage the following brief data are entered: Lizzie is the wife of Frank TINDALL, of Durwood, Carter County, in which vicinity he is engaged in farming, having formerly been a merchant. Olivet H. is the wife of Roy COTNER, of Pryor Creek, this state, and her husband is a traveling salesman. Sallie died at the age of eighteen years. John, James and Howard are triplets, John being a prosperous ranchman in Southwestern Texas, James being identified with the cattle business near Marietta, Oklahoma, and Howard being his father's assistant in the drug store at Berwyn.
On the 9th of August, 1892, Doctor Gilliam married Mrs. Nannie (SIGMON) LARGEN, a daughter of the late Israel Sigmon, who was a farmer in the State of Arkansas, the first husband of Mrs. Gilliam having been Frank Largen, who was a farmer of Carter County, Oklahoma, at the time of his death. Doctor and Mrs. Gilliam have four children, -- Mary, Amon, Leslie and Donald. Mary, who has been a popular and successful schoolteacher, married, in July, 1915, Carson HATIFIELD, and they maintain their residence at Berwyn.
Transcribed by: Geraldine Olson KING, July 19, 1999
SOURCE: Thoburn, Joseph B., A Standard History of Oklahoma, An Authentic Narrative of its Development, 5 v. (Chicago, New York: The American Historical Society, 1916)
[NOTE: 04-2000 Jean Dow, great granddaughter of John Gilliam, advises Olivette (her grandmother) married LOY EDGAR COTNER, not Roy Cotner. For more information contact Jean Dow at [
Re: GILLIAM, JOHN O., M. D.
Posted: 14 Sep 2004 11:51PM GMT
my grandfather was john one of the triplets/would like to know
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