Blacks@Dartmouth 1775 to 1960

George Torrance Gilliam

Physician in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Missouri

alumnus image

Dartmouth Medical School M.D.

Class of 1841

Born  1801  VA

Died 1882 St Louis MO

Quotes from Biographical Sources

Many African Americans with the surname Gilliam have their roots in Virginia. In 1870 there were approximately 340 African Americans enumerated as 'Black' with the Gilliam surname. In addition to the 340 enumerated as 'Black' approximately another 90 Biracial Gilliams were enumerated as 'Mulatto,' for a total of 430. By 1880 the number of 'Black' Gilliams was approximately 445, and approximately 110 Biracial Gilliams were enumerated as 'Mulatto' for a total of 555. Some of these African Americans were given the surname Gilliam; others took the name upon themselves. Others were Gilliams by birth—children of White Gilliams and their Black slaves.

Reuben Meriweather Gilliam had several children with Black Silvie Turnbull. Among them was George Torrance Gilliam. George choses to leave Virginia and pursue a medical degree from Dartmouth. He eventually settles in western Pennsylvania and later Illinois. In the 1850 census no race is indicated for George and his family. In the 1860 Census he is enumerated as 'Indian.' in the 1870 and 1880 Censuses he is enumerated as 'White.' The Missouri Death Register lists him as 'White.'

The story of George Torrance Gilliam is well-documented in such works as Afro-Virginian History and Culture by John Saillant, Taylor & Francis, 1999; Migrants Against Slavery: Virginians and the Nation by Philip J. Schwarz, 2001 and Making the American Dream Work: A Cultural History of African Americans in Hopewell, Virginia by Lauranett L Lee, Morgan James Publishing, 2008.

Gilliams of Virginia. Retrieved from

Other source(s)

  1. Schwarz, Philip J. (1888). The Gilliams' Dilemma. In John Saillant (Ed.), Afro-Virginian History and Culture (pp. 109-142). New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc.

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