Maude Gillican

March 5, 2013


We have a tendency at Elmwood to write and talk a lot about the politicians, military notables, Yellow Fever victims and financial tycoons buried within our cemetery. The fact remains, however, that the majority of Memphians buried here were just regular folks who’s names at best made the paper twice: on the day of their birth and the day of their death. Yet the truth is that everyone has a story.

Maude Ann Gillican was born in St. Louis, MO on 11-27-1876 to Benjamin Franklin and Rachel Nellie Stern Johnson. At some point in time B. F. and “Nellie” moved to Memphis. He started a career as brick laying contractor and began to raise a large family. One of the youngest daughters was Maude.

Maude married on June 9, 1906 at the relatively late age of 30 to Edgar O. Gillican. Nothing is known of the marriage except that it was to be a relatively short one, for Edgar died unexpectedly on September 11, 1912 from complications after a surgery.

One year later Maude posted a large ad in the Memphis City Directory announcing services she provided through the Maude Gillican Beauty Salon in the Downtown Exchange Building. Apparently the newly-widowed Mrs. Gillican was returning to the work force.  At the time this was a bit of a novelty.  In 1913 there were only three beauty salons listed in the City Directory and Maude’s seemed the be the finest.

It is not clear how long Maude’s salon remained open. It soon disappeared from the city directory. Over the next 10 to 15 years Maude’s name continued to appear at several different addresses, usually with the occupation of Masseur. In the early 1930’s she moved to Shreveport, Louisiana and managed a beauty salon for several years.

Late in life Maude returned to Memphis and began living at the Ambassador Hotel on South Main with her older sister Mattie. It was here that she was living when she died at the age of 78 on June 28, 1955 of heart disease. Maude is buried in the South Grove Section of Elmwood along with her husband, parents and several siblings.

« Back