Rough Draft of a Fine Family

It's not a book and doubtless won't ever be. Tracing this family suggested that there are stories inherent in their details that can be saved. Let's not lose any more of them. The family lines started out of sight somewhere. Many branched, crossed and intersected. Some stopped. When they did, only their memory can keep them going.

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Grandma to some, mom to others.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Thomas Alexander Gill

Thomas A. Gill was born in Maury Co., Tennessee, October 1, 1838, the 4th child of Robert R. Gill and Sarah McClaran "Sallie" Johnson. Sometime after 1844 the family spent a couple of years in Mississippi and by the 1850 census were recorded in the Bastrop Co. Texas census where they had settled and became very active in the community. His father served as a Deputy Sheriff in the late 1850's, and Tom was still living at home in 1860, listed in the census at age 21 as a butcher.

At the start of the Civil War he enlisted as a private in Terry's Texas Rangers, Company D, later designated as the 8th Texas Cavalry even though it was the first unit organized. Almost immediately promoted to Sergeant, he served throughout the war, and the roster describes him as "one of the best soldiers in the regiment." In L. B. Giles' article "Terry's Texas Rangers," Chapter 11: East Tennessee Campaign, is an account of an incident where Colonel Harrison sent Tom Gill to investigate an alarm during a night watch.

Claiborne's History of Terry's Texas Rangers, Part 4 tells a graphic and chilling tale of river rescues with recruits being swept off their horses in swift water -- "We remember to have seen private Tom Gill with an Alabamian by the hair in each hand struggling to the shore, and he successfully accomplished landing them, and put back after others."

It is well recognized the great toll this war, and the extraordinary feats the Rangers endured, took on their lives. Indeed, while he survived to return to a full life and pioneering adventures, he never fully regained his health after the long deprivation his regiment suffered. Gill family oral history speaks of Tom Gill engaged in stalking the movements of Sherman during the latter part of the war, but his name does not appear among Shannon's Scouts. Some remember the twin Colt pistols he had carried, though it was the bible tucked under his arm that later best depicted him.

Younger brothers Joseph Gill (Aug 21, 1842- abt. 1919) and Robert Gill (Mar 24, 1844-Jun 15, 1918) also enlisted at that time. Joseph took a round in the thigh and was discharged, permanently disabled. Robert came home to marry British born Mary Jane Thompson, younger sister of notorious Ben and Billy Thompson. Billy Thompson is buried in the Gill family plot with Robert and Mary Jane Gill, in Fairview Cemetery, Bastrop. Little brother Peter J. Gill (born Oct 17, 1846 in Mississippi) enlisted at the tail of the conflict, too late to see any action.

Tom's sister, Eliza A. Gill, married another Ranger in their unit, Reuben Talley Stroud, also of Bastrop, who had transferred from 18th Texas Cavalry to 8th Texas Cavalry, March, 1863. Their older sister Nancy Gill had married Charles Baylis Stroud, Reuben's oldest brother. When Nancy died April 5, 1861, after the birth of their third child, Charlie married Adeline Louise Hart, older sister of yet another Ranger, Thomas A. Hart.

After the war, Pete and Bob apparently took over the butcher shop started by their older sibling Tom. Mrs. Robert (Mary Jane Thompson) Gill and Mrs. Peter (Mary Abigail Moore, cousin of Anna Elizabeth Douglass) Gill both received Confederate Widows pensions. Joe received a military land grant but sold it when it was clear he would be unable to work it.

Thomas A. Gill married Anna Elizabeth Douglass in 1866, in Bastrop, TX. Their first child, Joseph Woody Ashland Gill, was born in Bastrop in 1867. The family moved to Stockton, California, in the early '70's. Baby Joseph tumbled out of the wagon on the way out, and they had to turn around and go back to find him, unhurt, on the trail. Legend has it they were driving a herd of cattle, but the stock was all picked off by the Indians before they reached their destination. The remainder of their children were all born in Stockton: Thomas A. Jr., Mary Alma, Bettie "Bessie" Douglass, Norval Douglass, George Douglass and William Kleiber (twins) and Abbie Lou. With the exception of twin girls Minnie Lee and Laura Jackson who had died in infancy, these all settled and raised their families in Northern California.

Tom Gill died in Stockton, San Joaquin Co., CA, on December 24, 1902. His wife Anna followed on November 26, 1928, and they are buried in Stockton Rural Cemetery.

(Distinguish this Thomas A. Gill from another Confederate soldier of almost the same age, "Thomas A. Gill born 14 Feb 1837 in Green County AL, died 15 Nov 1916 Coleman County, TX," never married.)

Tom Gill's mother:

Tom's father:


Blogger Lisa Rowlee-Smith said...

Hi Mary,

I am distantly related to Mary Jane Thompson Gill, wife of Robert L. Gill. I would like to connect with you and ask permission to use some of the photos you have on your blog in my private family tree on


7:11 PM PDT  

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