In recognition of the upcoming 250th celebration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the DAR America 250! Committee of the Botetourt County Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is placing a spotlight on our patriot ancestors who helped the country achieve American Independence. Elijah Gillenwater is the patriot ancestor of members JoElla, Lisa and Beverley John.
When the Revolutionary War began, Elijah joined the Fincastle County Militia enlisting on February 12, 1776. The unit consisted largely of men recruited in what became Washington County and then Scott County in 1814. When Elijah was 16 years of age, Patrick Henry made his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Richmond. In 1776, Elijah was age 17 and Thomas Jefferson’s American Declaration of Independence was endorsed by the Continental Congress.
When Elijah C. Gillenwater was born in 1759 in Amherst, Va., British Colonial America, his father, Thomas John Gillenwater, was 27 and his mother, Martha Jane Slaughter, was 17. Elijah married Mary Elizabeth Clarke about 1783. They became the parents of 10 sons and six daughters. Elijah registered again for military service in the War of 1812. He died in October 1832, on his farm along the Holston River in Scott County, Va., United States, at the age of 73, and was buried in the Gillenwater Cemetery.
After the war he returned to farming where he was a prosperous farmer with a deep sense of social responsibility. His father, Thomas John Gillenwater, also served during the Revolutionary War. Four of his 10 sons served in the War of 1812 and two in the American Civil War.
The Daughters of the American Revolution is a non-profit, non-political organization open to any woman who has lineage to a patriot who contributed to the success of the American Revolution. Founded over 125 years ago, it is focused on service to the community and fosters Patriotism, Education and Service.
~ Botetourt County DAR