Gillham is located on much of what was originally the Silver Hill community. Silver Hill prospered during the first of the county's mining booms about 1874. Even though no silver or other precious minerals were found, the town grew. In 1897 a new town on the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad was laid out about one and a quarter miles southeast of Silver Hill. It was named for Robert Gillham, chief engineer of the railroad. The town was incorporated in 1902 with an estimated population of four hundred. The timber mill at Silver Hill and the proximity of the Bellah and Antimony Mines provided prosperity for the area until the Great Depression.