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MSS 043 Gilleland Family collection Edit


MSS 043


  • 1847-1970 (Creation)


  • .42 Linear Feet (Whole)
    One full legal document box.



  • Abstract

    A wide selection of materials pertaining to the Gilleland family, largely known because John Gilleland invented a double-barreled cannon during the Civil War.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Mary Z. Nelson

  • Physical Description

    Fair to good

  • Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required. Apply in the Heritage Room for access.

  • Preferred Citation

    Gilleland Family collection, MSS 043, Heritage Room, Athens-Clarke County Library

  • Biographical / Historical

    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

  • Scope and Contents

    The collection covers the Gilleland family history from their beginnings in Athens to the 1970s. Included are financial records, graduation programs, correspondence, deeds, plats, clippings of news articles and obituaries, photographs, and medals presented to members of the Gilleland family.

  • Arrangement

    The collection is organized in a single series.

External Documents

  • "Double-barrel cannon. ca. 1895," Historic Images of Athens, Ga.,
  • Georgiana Vertical Files, Georgia Biographical Files, MSS 3693,
    Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia


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