This website was originally started to document the research of trying to find the ancestors of my 4th great-grandfather John Gilliland. The little that is known about him starts in 1790 in the state of South Carolina after his marriage to Charity Richardson. Whether he was born in South Carolina or moved there from another part of the country is not known at this time. As I searched for documentation on my John Gilliland it became apparent that in order to discover his ancestry I was going to have to identify the other Gilliland families that I came upon if only for the reason of eliminating them as possible candidates of potential ancestors or relatives. Thus, this database has continued to grow.
Through DNA testing of one of his male descendants, we have discovered that John shares a common ancestor with a number of different Gilliland lines. These lines can be found by clicking on the DNA page. It has also been discovered through DNA testing of a number of Gilliland descendants that there are two distinct groups of Gillilands that came to America early and that the two groups are not closely related. They descend from two different haplogroups. The majority of Gillilands that have been tested fall into haplogroup R1b1a2a1a2a1b1a (SRY2627), which has been labeled Gilliland Group 1.My John Gilliland falls into haplogroup R1b1a2a1a2c1a1a1 (R-M222) and has been labeled Gilliland Group 2. The R-M222 lineage began in Western Europe and is the descendant of the major R-M343 lineage. The R-M222 line spread to the British Isles. It is over 12 percent of the population in Ireland. This may be due to its connection to the Uí Néill and Connachta dynasties. The Uí Néill are Irish and Scottish dynasties who claim descent from Niall Noigiallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages), an historical King of Tara who died about 405. The results of those tests can be found on the Gilliland DNA Projects page.
In 1901 a family history was written by a James K. Polk Gilliland while he lived in Hereford, Texas. This Gilliland line is in Group 2 along with my John Gilliland. Using this family history, along with land records, land grants, census records, court records, and other records, I believe I may have sorted out who the earliest ancestor of James K. Polk Gilliland was — Robert Gilliland — and I also believe that there was a strong connection between his family and my John Gilliland's family.
Prior to receiving the DNA results, a lot of research was done in South Carolina using early land records. (When doing genealogical research prior to the first Federal census in 1790, sometimes your only sources are land records and tax lists.) This was done to try and sort out all the Gilliland families found in that state. After South Carolina, I did a similar study of the records in Pennsylvania and Maryland. A good place to start in this database is to view the Research page. This will summarize research already done in each state. It can be accessed through the Research link at the top of this page.
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Because this database is so large with a lot of repetitious names (I think there are now over 100 John Gillilands) I would suggest using the Search Index and/or Master Place Index when searching for someone. That way you can go directly to the person or to the area you know or believe them to be from.
There are a lot of family trees posted on the Internet, many with no sources or documentation as to where or how data was obtained. On this site, I have tried to include a person or event only if I could provide a primary or secondary source.
I would also like to mention that in doing Gilliland family research, one of the first places that should be explored is the Gilliland Trails web site. It is a wealth of information on all Gillilands - everywhere.
Thank you for taking the time to view this site.