Written and Published Online by Rex Redmon, Greenville, SC.

w/contributing articles by cousin John Silver




Greetings Cousins,


I hope everyone is happy and healthy as we approach the end of summer. I do not know how the weather has been where each of you live, but here in the South, we have had a wonderful summer. Yes, it has been a wet summer and I have never in all my sixty-three years seen the trees so green and the grass, flowers and plants flourish so. The good Lord has blessed us here in the southeast with a bounty of rain after so many years of drought. My family, (son, daughter and three grandchildren) is doing very well. My daughter, Stephanie, tells me she is moving from Charlotte, North Carolina, to the mountains of Hendersonville, North Carolina, which is only a forty-five minute drive from where I now live in Greenville, South Carolina. I am looking forward to getting to see more of her and two of my grandchildren. A major event is also about to occur in my life again. No, what many of you are thinking might happen later, but for now I have accepted the nomination to again serve on the session of a Presbyterian Church. The congregation vote is September 7th, so please remember me in your prayers as I again take this important step in my life as an Elder in the Presbyterian Church, USA. This will be my fourth three-year term serving the session of a Presbyterian Church.


Cousin Mel Squires up in Asheville, NC recently sent notice the Creed Fulton Silver Family Reunion is being held at the Asheville Recreation Park on August 30th. She invites all descendants of Creed Fulton Silver, who was the son of Jacob William Silver and Lucinda Jane Roland of Pensacola, to attend the reunion. Lunch begins at noon and yours truly will be on hand as your roving Silver Threads reporter to partake in the festivities and the bounty of food our Silver women prepare.


Also, cousin Jack Silver of Mars Hill, North Carolina and a descendant of Reverend Jacob Silver through Alfred, Tillman, George Delbert and Foy Silver wrote to me on August 13 to tell me about the George Delbert Silver reunion in Mars Hill on the 17th of August. Due to previous commitments I was unable to attend but our roving Mars Hill reporter, cousin Alma Silver-Metcalf, sent an E-mail telling me about the event.


Alma is happy to report over one-hundred Silver cousins were in attendance for this year’s gathering of George Delbert Silver’s descendants. She tells me the food was very good, which I can attest to from the bounty of food we have at KONA each year that is lovingly cooked by our Silver women. Now if she does not get mad with me I will tell the age of Cousin Helen Silver-Hembree, who was the oldest person in attendance. Better yet I will not give her exact age but I will say it is somewhere between seventy-eight and eighty. Now I will not get in trouble for reporting her exact age. Cousin Shirley Silver-Ward and her family from Summerville, South Carolina, climbed the Western North Carolina Mountains to claim the award for being the family who traveled the longest distance. Alma tells me many old family photos were on display and everyone enjoyed looking at and commenting about them. This was a good event for little Silver cousins to get to know their extended family as well, which is part of what reunions are all about anyway.  A children’s playground was near the gathering place and the children entertained themselves and interacted while the adults sat and told tall tales about family members. Alma says everyone seemed to have a very good time. Thank you for your report Alma.


(I encourage all our Silver cousins to write and tell me about family gatherings regardless of the size of the event.)





Many of our Silver cousins claim as ancestors numerous McMahans from Yancey County as part of their family tree. For several years I have both collected and researched material on the McMahans of Yancey County and at long last I am ready to report my findings. While the early history of the McMahans in the American British Colonies is rather cloudy at best, we are assured of some very interesting findings. Our McMahan ancestor, one Redmond McMahan, was a soldier in the American Revolution in every sense of the word. As a matter of fact, he was a very patriotic fighter and a very loyal fighter. His Patriotic duty for the just cause, according to his pension records filed in 1834, was in the first battle of Charlestown (Charleston, South Carolina) at Sullivan’s Island where he served at Fort Moultree against the British. He then claims, although his mind is foggy at age 103, that he fought engagements against the British at Eutaw Springs, South Carolina and at Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina. (The later might be an exaggeration however). Yet his military records show he also had a great loyalty for another just cause for which he also fought. So, I’m afraid we must call him a Loyalist too. Yes, he was also a Tory. He fought for good King George’s lost cause as well. And as a result of his military history, his personal history is very confusing at best. But let’s try to unravel his history by starting at the beginning with his arrival in the Colonies. 


The Great Mahuna, when translated from the Gaelic to the English, means The Mighty Bear. Such was the name of Archibald Redmond MacMahuna of Clan MacMahuna who was born in Ireland after the turn of the eighteenth century, and whose ancestors originated in Scotland, but who immigrated to Northern Ireland sometime in the 1600s when the English were trying to civilize the wild and unruly Irish, and as well, get rid of Lowland Scottish Protestants who were dissenters of the Church of England.


The Gaelic name, MacMahuna, was corrupted to the English spelling of MacMahan sometime after 1725 according to the name of Archibald Redmond MacMahuna’s son, Redmond MacMahan, born about 1727 (actually 1 January 1831 according to his military pension) in the Plantation of Ulster, popularly known today as, Northern Ireland, when he appears with the modern day spelling of the name.


The MacMahans, or McMahans, depending on which spelling of the name one chooses to use, as both are correct, arrived in the mountains of Western North Carolina sometime between 1788, when the last of Redmond MacMahan’s children were born in Montgomery County, Virginia and 1795, when a Redmond McMahan carried the chains during a land survey laying out 100 acres for Charles Rolin (Roland) near the headwaters of Crabtree Creek.


The modern day history of the MacMahans begins with the aforesaid Archibald Redmond MacMahuna. Yet there is considerable conjecture about the history of Archibald Redmond MacMahuna. I am of the opinion the Elder MacMahuna was born between 1700 and 1705 in Northern Ireland. My opinion is based on the fact that, according to oral tradition and also an article submitted by Kirby Ray, a Ray Family historian, that is printed in Vol. I of the Toe River Valley Heritage Book, Article #517, The McMahan Family. Mrs. Ray reports ten McMahan brothers and their father, (presumably Redmond MacMahuna The Elder, according to my findings through process of elimination), left Ireland for the American Colonies during one of the great Irish immigrations, probably in 1747, as the ship carrying Redmond McMahan The Younger landed in Hopewell, Virginia, in August of 1747. Mrs. Kirby writes “the father died on board ship and was buried at sea.” Mrs. Kirby’s article does not give a departure date for the McMahan Family’s journey, however my research reveals the above date. My year of departure is also reinforced by another story about the family that appeared in The Smokey Mountain Historical Newsletter 1991, Volume XVII No 4. (received from Dick Fox, RR 9, Box 355, Sour Lake, Texas, 77659.)


Redmond McMahan was apprenticed to David Stuart as a cooper to begin 9 August 1747. Redmond was listed as a white male; his mother was listed as Catherine Cole. According to the writer, this information is from the Augusta (Virginia) Parish Vestry book, 1746-1780, p 101. Catherine Cole was listed in other Augusta County, Virginia records as a servant of David Stuart.


If the aforementioned Elder Redmond MacMahuna did die at sea, the above article possibly explains why his wife and son are apprenticed. But what happened to the other nine children? One must assume that the rest of the children were too apprenticed to various families in the Northern Virginia area as it would have been nearly impossible during the time period for a widow to care for ten children alone. 


Mrs. Kirby’s article continues that early land records in New Castle, Delaware, around 1750, state that persons of the surname, McMahan, primarily, Andrew, James and John made numerous land purchases in that area. Also others of the name made their way into East Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia in the eighteenth century. Other brothers could have been Lett and Archibald. Archibald is thought to have married Ann Payne and settled in Greenville, County, SC. Also Nancy McMahan, daughter of Lett, married Robert Payne Jr. according to Mrs. Kirby’s article. The Payne family is supposed to have been another family who traveled with the McMahans and the Rays as they moved from state to state. Yet I will direct my attention to Redmond McMahan The Younger, affectionately known hereafter as Redmond, who we believe to be the ancestor of the Yancey County McMahans.


Whether Redmond completed his apprenticeship with David Stuart is not known, however, he is next found serving as a laborer with the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania militia in 1747. Redmond’s enlistment age is listed as twenty therefore giving his birth year as 1727 in Northern Ireland. Also in the militia company with him, which is commanded by a Samuel Perry, is an acquaintance, Thomas Ray, nineteen, whose birthplace is also Ireland. (See Ray Family history in Silver Notes II, Volume II, Issue XI, November 2002.)  Seven years later Redmond is listed as a resident of the Little Britain community of Lancaster County in one of William Penn’s settlements.    


Between the years of 1754 and 1773 there are no records of Redmond McMahan’s activities in Pennsylvania or Virginia. However, a Redmond McMahan, along with Thomas Ray (II) does appear in the Old Craven District of Upstate South Carolina in the 1760s. Apparently, both he and Thomas Lee Ray (II), who married Celia or Betsy Young (Not Thomas III who married Ivey Hensley), moved to the backcountry of South Carolina in the Old Craven District that consisted of what toady is about fifteen counties in the Upstate. 


South Carolina was engaged in its own Civil War in the mid 1700s, twenty years before the Revolutionary War began in 1776 and one hundred years before the State succeeded from the Union that led to the Civil War of the 1860s. Whigs (Patriots) and Tories (Loyalist) were engaged in heinous atrocities against one another in the Upstate and without law and order in the sparsely populated backcountry, rogues, vagrants, bushwhackers, thieves and outlaws were the order of the day and each party was as guilty for the atrocities against one another as the other.


In the book, The South Carolina Regulators, the following words are written;


During and after the Indian Wars in the backcountry of South Carolina in the 1760s (actually from 1758 to 1762) numerous outlaws raided the countryside looting and destroying the crops. In 1768 the newly formed Rangers made up primarily of a group of Regulators who tried to check the growth of the outlaws when there was little or no law (in the backcountry) to do so. By 1769, most of the outlaws had been captured, punished, or driven to other states.


The Regulators of the 1760s, who had the blessings of the South Carolina Colonial Government in Charlestown (Charleston), consisted of men from both the Whig and the Tory parties, but with a mutual goal, to rid the backcountry of the outlaws. They were men who devoted themselves to bringing law and order to the backcountry.


The name, Redmond McMahan, appears among the names of those outlaws. While Redmond might have felt he was fighting a just cause against further British persecution that his father had left Ireland to escape, his stance as a Whig and as a rogue against those who considered themselves Loyalists was an act of treason and he was, in fact, operating outside the Colonial laws and he would have to pay the full penalty. Many of the outlaws received 500 lashes and were released. Redmond McMahan must have been among them because he apparently marries and begins to have children in the Old Craven District about 1773. According to a Family Bible, the first two of Redmond McMahan’s children were born in the Old Craven District of Upstate South Carolina. Archibald McMahan was born in 1773 and James McMahan was born in 1775.


Sometime between 1775, when James McMahan, the second child of Redmond and Sarah Curtis (no documentation exists as proof that Sara Curtis is Redmond’s wife) was born in South Carolina and when Redmond surrenders to the authorities in Virginia in 1781, he moves his family to Montgomery County, Virginia, as does his friend, Thomas Ray II, because both men later have children being born in Montgomery County.


Stephen McMahan, the fourth of Redmond’s children was born in Montgomery County in 1780. Thomas Lee Ray II and Celia (Betsy) Young’s first child, Thomas Lee Ray III, who later married Ivey Hensley, in Old Burke County, (Yancey), North Carolina, was born in South Carolina about 1774. The second child, Joseph B. Ray, who married Sarah Elizabeth McMahan, daughter of Redmon McMahan and Sarah Curtis, was born in Montgomery County, Virginia in 1776. The births of these children indicate Thomas Lee Ray moved back to Virginia first because this information leaves us to believe that after living in South Carolina, Thomas Ray II moved his family to Montgomery County between 1774 and 1776. The third child, William McMahan, of Redmond and Sarah, has no birth date or birth place given and we do not know the exact date Redmond moved with his family to Virginia, but he was there by 1781 when Stephen was born. 


The continuing and confusing story of Redmond’s life finally begins to unravel when we find him at the Battle Of Kings Mountain on the border of South Carolina and North Carolina, in October of 1780 during the final engagements of the Revolutionary War. Redmond fought as a patriot at the first battle of Charlestown and at Eutaw Springs but now we see him fighting with the Loyalist under Colonel Ferguson, the commander of the British forces at Kings Mountain. Did he feel the Patriot cause was lost and did he desert the Continental Army after Cornwallis’ overwhelmingly victories at the second engagement of Charlestown and as well, at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina, where over nine-hundred patriots were killed and thousands taken prisoner? 


At the Battle Of Kings Mountain, Redmon McMahan was taken prisoner during the Patriot victory. Apparently, while he was still held as a prisoner of war by the Patriots and was in route to Winston Salem, North Carolina, in custody of members of the North Carolina and Virginia militia, he escaped. If he did indeed fight at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse on 3 March 1781, he did so after surrendering to authorities and swearing allegiance as a Patriot as the following documents show.


From the Montgomery County, Virginia Court Records the following is written: (Montgomery County is located Southwest of and next to Roanoke County).


Whereas Redmond McMahan was taken Prisoner in the Battle of King’s Mountain by the Virginia and Carolina Militia on the march to Moravian Town (Winston Salem, NC), he made his escape and came into Montgomery County (Virginia) where he surrendered himself to an Officer of the Militia. And whereas there is no Prison in Said County to confine the said McMahan until an Exchange takes place Therefore We the Subscribers do hereby bind ourselves Jointly & Severally our Joint & Severally our Joint & Several Heirs Exrs. & Admrs. To the Hon’ble Thomas Jefferson Esqr. Governor of Virginia or the Governor for the time being in the just and full sum of five thousand Pounds Current Money of Virginia that the said Redmond McMahan will at any time deliver himself up when legally called for, to the proper officer, as a prisoner of War to be exchanged or otherwise dealt with as the other prisoners in the same situation with him may be dealt with. As witness, this 6th day of February 1781.


Redmond McMahan
John Price
Dasswell Rodgers  (his mark)
William Preston
James McGavock


(Old Redmond states in his pension application that when his initial enlistment [with the Patriots] was up he reenlisted and fought to the end of the war -- he thinks -- for a total of five years. He says he thinks he fought at Kings Mountain and says he remembers seeing General Greene and General Washington [but he does not say under what circumstances or where he saw them] His pension application also says he remembers wearing a leather cap during his years of service.)


Then in 1787, Redmond McMahan and George Byrd were enumerated in Montgomery County, Virginia on the same day for personal property tax listings therefore leaving one with the impression they were neighbors. Elizabeth Byrd, daughter of George Byrd, does marry Redmond’s son, Archibald on 9/28/1793. However when the marriage occurred, Redmond was living in Grayson County, Virginia. Grayson County is located just north of Ashe and Allegany Counties, North Carolina.


The next available record of Redmond McMahan we find is in 1792, which is confusing, because there are still listings for the personal property tax records for the Elk Creek District in Montgomery County, Virginia. A move to the Mountains of North Carolina must have occurred after 1793 and before 1795 because of the following records.


In the minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Book One, of Old Buncombe County, (later Yancey County in 1832) in the Caney River District, one Thomas Rhea (Ray II) was appointed constable in Captain Henry’s Company. By 1796, a George Henry resigns from the same position and Redmond McMahan replaces him. Remember too, he was surveying land for Charles Roland in Old Buncombe County in 1795.


The 1800 Buncombe County (today Yancey County) National Census records lists both Redmond McMahan and Thomas Ray as residents. However, in 1811 in a Warren County, Tennessee land transaction, Redmond McMahan is selling 100 acres on Barren Fork of Collins River to Enos Holbert. The land had been granted to Redmond by the state of Tennessee on 23 August 1808. Also, in another land transaction dated 8 January 1816, Redmond McMahan sells part of a land grant from the state of Tennessee to Nathan Randolph for $120.00.


According to one McMahan family historian, Glenn F. McMahan (1932) Redmond was living with his son, Sanders, in Alabama by 1826. Yet, by 1834, Redmond filed for a Revolutionary War pension from Warren County, Tennessee, at age 103 which would have made his birth date 1731 instead of 1727. The logical explanation for this puzzling birth date is the fact Redmond must have lied about his age when he joined the Pennsylvania Militia. He said he was twenty years old. If he was born in 1731 he would have only been sixteen years old in 1747 when he became a member of the Militia, making him too young to serve in the Militia and as well, making him too young to leave his apprenticeship. According to the same source, Redmond’s pension application was denied because of his desertion. One is then left to presume his pension is denied because of his desertion before the Battle of Kings Mountain  where he fought as a Loyalist with Ferguson. Why in fact, would the United States government pay a pension to a Loyalist? It seems our ancestor played both sides against the middle and as a result was denied his pension.


Also I am inclined to question the many moves Redmond made during his lifetime. During the time period it was not uncommon for a family to move once or even twice while seeking better opportunities when new lands became available in newly opened territories to the west. But Redmond zigzagged from Virginia to Pennsylvania to South Carolina then back to Virginia then to the mountains of North Carolina then over the mountain to Tennessee and finally to Alabama. Why so many moves?


I think the answer lies in the fact he was seeking peace in his life after his many changes of allegiance to the cause of the Revolution. As a Patriot deserter, especially when one deserts to the other side, his actions were probably looked upon as treasonous by his peers. He was indeed lucky he was not hanged as a deserter. Perhaps if he did fight at Guilford Courthouse as a Patriot he vindicated himself in the eyes of the government. Yet he probably never vindicated himself in the eyes of his peers who more than likely persecuted against him as a deserter regardless of where he lived, despite the fact he may have tried to overcome the error of his ways by becoming head of the home guard in Old Buncombe County. 


This is also possibly why his mind is so faded -- as he states in his pension application – that he can only remember major events. It is also possible that early in the war Redmond was a devoted Patriot and fought for the Whig cause during some of the early engagements in the war. Yet it is also convenient for one to intentionally forget controversial issues of one’s past, such as Redmond’s desertion, when the need arises.


During intervals of his lifetime, Redmond McMahan was also considered to be a financially wealthy man. He did own property in both Old Buncombe County in the Caney River area of what is today Yancey County and in Warren County, Tennessee. Many of his descendants lived, died and are buried on the mountain in the Pensacola Community of Yancey County. Many still live in Yancey County today as well as other surrounding counties of Western North Carolina and beyond. Plus, at one time he owned as many as seventeen slaves. One family source says Redmond is buried in the McMahan Family Cemetery in McMahan Cove in Stevenson, Alabama.  Another source gives his burial place as McMinville or Morrison, Tennessee.


CHILDREN OF REDMOND MCMAHAN & Sarah Curtis (wife not documented)



b. 1773

Craven District, SC

m. Elizabeth Byrd

James *

b. 1775

Craven District, SC

m. Eleanor Nellie Riddle


b. bet 1776-1779


m. Mary Marn


b. 1780

Montgomery Co., VA

m. Blanchy Hensley


b. @1782

Montgomery Co., VA



b. 2/1/1784

Montgomery Co., VA


Sarah Eliz.

b. @ 1786

Montgomery Co., VA

m. Joseph B. Ray


b. 1788

Montgomery Co., VA






Thomas Lee III

b. @ 1774

Craven District, SC

m. Ivey Hensley.

Joseph B.

b. 1776

Montgomery Co., VA

m. Sarah Elizabeth McMahan


b. 1778

Montgomery Co., VA

m. ?

Elizabeth Mary *

b. 1780

Montgomery Co., VA

never married.
(had 3 bastard children)

W. Hiram


Montgomery Co., VA

m. Elizabeth Cox.

James (Big Jim)

b. 1785

Montgomery Co., VA

m. Hannah Agnes Gillespie

Solomon L.

b. @ 1792

Montgomery Co., VA

m. Elizabeth Claric & Susan White


(* Ancestor of Rex Redman)


Many of the descendants of the Yancey County McMahan’s married into the Western North Carolina families of Silver, Bradley, Byrd, Marn, Reed, Riddle, Ray, Rhea, Messer, Rathbone, Roland, Cogdill, Gogue, Dillingham, Hensley, Boone, Howell, Wilson, Merrimon, Hutchins, Smith, Hall, English, Young, Jones, Weatherman, Stepp, McMinn, Moore, Massey, Ward, Corn, Rhodes, Buchanan, Murdock, Queen, Woody, Styles, McCurry and yes, they even married a few McMahan cousins as did many of Yancey Counties early inhabitants. The Surname Index at our Silver Family Website has many of these families listed.


PS.  This is an unusual coincidence. As I finished writing this article, John and I received notification from cousin, Carolyn Denton, about a McMahan family reunion that will be held in Morganton, North Carolina on September 27th and 28th.. For further information about the event please contact Allen McMahon, (803) 786-9286.





Recently while reading The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogical Library Family Tree News, I ran across an article that caught my eye. The article was titled, Civil War Fought By Boys. The article states that; Figures from Government (the article did not state which government, Confederate or Union) records indicate that 78% of the Civil War was fought by 15 to 18 year olds. Specific age categories are as follows:


Age 10



Age 14



Age 18


Age 11



Age 15



19 – 22


Age 12



Age 16



22 – 44


Age 13



Age 17



Above 44



Staggering figures you think? I agree! So if any of you Silver Threads readers who are Civil War Buffs have a burden of proof to dispute those findings, I would love to hear from you. Write to me at [email protected] and share your statistics with me, including your documentation, and I will print them in October‘s issue of Silver Threads.





During the recent Silver Family reunion at KONA, North Carolina, I was asked by several members of our extended Silver Family, who were attending the reunion for the first time, who actually owns the KONA Missionary Baptist Church as it is no longer being used on a regular basis for worship services. When I was asked the questions I actually did not know who owned the church. However since that time, I have made an effort to find the answer to those questions. Specifically, it is owned by the present members of the church who are part of our Silver family at KONA. There are only four members and the late Wayne Silver’s mother, Mrs. Ruth, is one of those members. I am told on good authority, as long as Mrs. Ruth lives and as well, as long as her daughter, Wanda Silver Freeman lives, our reunion function is in good hands and our family archives are in safekeeping. Yet cousins, some money does need to be spent on the upkeep of the church and we desperately need money to repair the leaky roof, remove the bats from the belfry and make repairs to the steeple which is beginning to tilt. All checks should be made payable to KONA Missionary Baptist Church and side marked, “Donation for repairs” to either the Roof, the Bats or the Steeple. You may send your checks to either John or myself and we will see they are forwarded to Wanda Freeman who is treasurer for the church. Please remember cousins, your donations are tax deductible.  





John and I each added many new names to our newsletter E-mail list during the reunion in July. I previously mentioned many of their names in the August issue of Silver Threads. However, since arriving home I have received the names of sixteen other extended family members who want to become a part of our Silver Threads online mailing list. The majority of these folks live in and around the Mars Hill area of Madison County, North Carolina and descend from Reverend Jacob Silver. So a great big welcome to Angie Silver, Alma and Charlie Metcalf, Chad Silver who proudly serves our country while stationed aboard the navy ship, Iwo Jima, located somewhere on the high seas. As well, his wife, Katie is also a subscriber as is Charlie Silver, Carolyn Holloway, Craig Silver, Jack Silver who is Carolyn Holloway’s father, Jessica Silver, John Silver, Judy Silver, Maggie Bain, Shirley Ward, Teresa Boggs, Tim Silver and from over in Morristown, Tennessee, we welcome Tim McCurry.


As always, John and I encourage everyone, including all you new cousins who have joined us, to  participate in our newsletter. I ask you to send to me your family stories that are suitable for printing. Those stories need to be sent to my address printed at the end of the newsletter. Also, please send your family history to John Silver, our family historian, whose address is also located at the end of this newsletter. I will edit and rewrite if necessary, and publish any family news or family stories you send to me. John will enter you family information into the family database and as well, he will place your family group sheets in the family archives stored in the big Church at KONA. In addition, John needs birth announcements, graduation announcements, marriages and yes, divorces too, as well as obituaries. Old family photos that you can copy and share with John are placed in the family archives at KONA as well.


Thank you for reading Silver Threads and you will hear from me again in October!


Cousin Rex Redmon




John’s History Corner


John’s History Corner will take a hiatus this month as he processes the enormous quantity of photos that were given to him at and after the KONA reunion.  It will return in the October edition.




Rex Redmon
Editor, Silver Threads
40 Wood Pointe Drive #68
Greenville, SC 29615
[email protected]
[email protected]

John Silver
Family Historian Online
64S Fairfield Drive
Dover, DE 19901
[email protected]

Barney Kaufman
Keeper of The Web
7408 Lake Drive
Manassas, VA 20111-1960
[email protected]