John Gilleland is perhaps best known for developing the concept of the double-barreled cannon, or a cannon that could project two balls bound together by a chain, when he was a private in the Home Guards, known as the Mitchell Thunderbolts. Gilleland also worked at Cook’s Armory. He financed the cannon by raising money from interested citizens. The invention proved unsuccessful, but the single prototype, forged in 1862 at a cost of $350, has attracted the interest of tourists, photographers, and historians. It stands on the north lawn of the Athens City Hall.
John Gilleland also worked as a dentist, mechanic, and builder. He and his wife Clara had three children: Elizabeth, William A., and John W. William married Minerva Edge and served as the Clerk of City Council for Athens and in Cobb’s Legion. They had one child, Clement, who eventually left Athens. John W. Gilleland was a member of Cobb’s Legion, married Mary Frances Heard in 1884, and died in 1910. x