The "Gilliam Clan" migrated mainly from North Carolina and Tennessee into Missouri about 1820. They moved much like an Indian kinship group that added members as the children married into other families.
Epaphroditus Gilliam (Va. or N.C., ca 1770/Buchanan Co., 1843), progenitor of the clan, was in Clay County when the county was formed, in 1822, and had settled "across the line" in Platte (Territory) by 1836. His oldest son, Jesse (N.C., 1790/Andrew Co., 1867), was the first tax collector of Clay Co.
Another son, Cornelius (Buncome Co., N.C. 13 Apr 1798/Wells Springs, Ore., 20 Mar. 1848), is said to have served six different counties in the State of Missouri, either as representative or senator before 1844. Cornelius advertised for volunteers to go to "upper California" or Oregon in 1841 and 1843. They started from five miles west of Savannah, opposite Owens Landing, 9 May 1844. One of their three companies was in command of Wm. Shaw (Wake Co., N.C., 15 Dec. 1795/Polk Co., Ore.) who had married Sarah Gilliam (N.C. 11 May 1796/Polk Co., Ore 9 July 1875) on 14 June 1822 in Clay Co. Later, one company was in command of Mitchell Gilliam (Tenn. 27 Sept., 1815/Sonoma Co., Cal., 26 Jul 1882) who had married Henrietta Taylor (Ky., 15 Apr 1815/Sonoma Co., 9 Nov 1890) daughter of Rachel (S.C. or Ky. 8 Apr 1798/Sonoma Co., 13 Nov 1881) and Benjamin Taylor (Ga. 28 Jan 1794/Sonoma Co., 2 Jun 1873) on 11 Nov 1833 in Clay County. Cornelius was killed while in command of the troops in the Cayuse War and Gilliam County, Oregon is named after him.
Surnames of some of the clan members who had lived in the Platte Territory and made the 1844 trip to Oregon include: Belieu; Bowman; Gage; Grant; Nichols; Shaw; Taylor; and a Sullivan who is believed to be the Isaac Sullivan (Knox Co., Ky., 29 Mar 1807/Sonoma Co., 25 Aug. 1891) who taught school in Washington Township "at an early day" and married Mary "Polly" Gilliam (Mo. 26 Sep 1833/Sonoma Co. 14 Nov 1885), daughter of Mitchell and Henrietta, 26 Aug 1851, in Sonoma County, California.
Several of these families lived in the area that is now DeKalb County. In 1835 Benjamin Taylor and Robert Gilliam were ordered to be judges at the next election for Grand River Twp. Capt. Benjamin Taylor and Rachel passed through Maysville on their way to California, 6 May 1857, with their daughter Jan and Ben Branscomb who was Jane's husband on 7 Aug 1859. Some of the Taylor children remained in DeKalb County including Jacob Taylor (1831-1906) who set up and operated the first steam mill in DeKalb County and was the father of W. Benj. Taylor (1854-1920).
Jesse Gilliam was a man of the American frontier. He was born in the mountains of Western North Carolina right after the American Revolution. Jesse's life spanned the terms in office of the nation's first 17 Presidents. George Washington was President when Jesse was born in 1790. James Madison was President when he married Jennett in 1810; John Quincy Adams was President when Jesse bought land in Clay County, MO in 1827; and Andrew Johnson was President when Jesse died in 1867.
Jesse was the oldest of thirteen children born to Epaphroditus and believed to be the third child born to Sarah Anne "Sally" Israel. Jesse moved with his parents from Wilkes Co. NC to Buncombe Co. NC after the tax list for 1793 was complied and before 11 Oct 1797 when Epaphroditus bought 120 ares on the N. Fork of the Swannanoa River in Buncombe Co. By 1810 the family had moved to Haywood Co. NC and Jesse married Jenny McDowell on 25 Jec 1810 in Haywood Co. NC. Jesse and Jennett were living in Tennessee when Unity, their first, child was born in July 1811. On 28 Apr 1813 Jesse enters 125 acres on the North Fork of Scots Creek in Haywood Co. NC. Jesse moved his wife and four children from North Carolina to Missouri before June 1818 when their fifth child, Andrew Jackson, was born. He was active in local government. Jesse voted and was a judge in the first election held in Miami Township of Cooper County, Missouri in August 1819. In 1821, he was the first tax collector in Ray County, Missouri and the next year, he was the first tax collector of Clay County, Missouri.
Records have been found that show Jesse had owned land in five counties in Missouri: Ray, Clay, Jackson, Platte and Andrew. Jesse's 4 November 1843 application for the land in Platte County includes his signature. He was a prosperous farmer who made money buying, developing and selling land. He was also a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church. In June 1849, Jesse and his son, Samuel T. Gilliam, left Missouri to go to the California "Gold Rush". In March 1850, Jesse returned to his home in Missouri: Samuel remained in California. Although Jesse had a desire to migrate to the West Coast he remained in Missouri until his death. The date of his death is not known but on 4 March 1867 John Gilliam, Jesse's son, filed for an Administrative Bond to settle Jesse's estate. The application showed that Jesse was a resident of Andrew County, Missouri, he died intestate and he owned property in Missouri.