august 2004


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

w/contributing articles by cousin John Silver


Hello Everyone,


August is here already -- summer is flying right past me. Or, perhaps because I am so busy these days, I am letting the weeks and months slip by without stopping to keep track of time. Our KONA Silver Family Reunion has come and gone like the weeks and months also. As the days of this year have left me behind, our KONA Silver Family Reunion was no different. It was over much too soon! I suppose the old saying, Time flies when one is having fun, could certainly be used to best describe Saturday and Sunday, July 24th and 25th. Before we realized the time of day on Sunday afternoon, the sun was slowly setting in the western sky. The reunion was over and we sadly began cleaning and packing to return to our homes miles removed the hills of Mitchell County and KONA, North Carolina.

Yet, I should not write so sadly. We had a great reunion and a wonderful time was had by everyone who attended.  Our numbers, both Saturday and Sunday, were slightly down this year when compared to last year. However, we were competing with Bel-Chere in Asheville. Bel-Chere is an annual street festival that attracts thousands of mountain folk from all over Western North Carolina and far beyond as well. I‘m sure many of the local family attended the event in Asheville instead of their favorite family reunion this year. (We did not serve beer.) If the same conflict of scheduling occurs next year, I will have talk with the city fathers of Asheville and see if I can get them to reschedule their event for a different weekend. That will be easier than rescheduling our Silver Family reunion that has been in existence thirty years longer.

A dense fog covered the hills of Mitchell County on Saturday the 24th. Saturday is history and tour day at our two-day festival and it was close to ten o’clock, after most of the fog evaporated, before cousins began to arrive to register. Realizing our schedule of events was not going to happen according to plan, the plan went out the window, and we let events occur naturally and consequently without mishap. Instead of eating at noon, we ate at one o‘clock after our guest speakers each had turn speaking to those cousins assembled.

Festivities that were supposed to begin at nine-thirty finally got under way shortly after ten-thirty after some fifty-plus family members had registered. A little business transpired in the order of announcements and after the reunion hosts were introduced, each person in attendance, up to that point, had the opportunity to stand, introduce themselves, and tell us from which of George Silver and Nancy Griffith’s child each descended, how many reunions each had attended and where they lived.

Again as expected, Jacob Silver’s descendants led the way with a majority of family represented. Greenberry Silver’s family was well represented as well. However, this year, after a head count on the registration sheet, Reverend Thomas Silver, the youngest child of George and Nancy, came in a strong second. Other children of George and Nancy who were represented this year were John who moved to Georgia, George III who moved to Indiana, Henry, William Griffith, Nancy and Rachael. The number of children represented from the original families totaled nine of eleven this year, a respectful representation from a family so large. Ironically, Elizabeth and Sarah, about whom we historically know very little, were not represented. I am basing my information on statistics taken from the registration booklet. I do stand to be corrected.

We did gather some important data on the registration sheet this year -- confusing as the registration sheet was. We try to determine from which of George and Nancy’s children each family member descends. In addition, this year we attempted to establish the number of reunions each person had attended over the years by having each person registering circle a number such as the following illustrates; 1st, 2 to 5, 6 or more. A total of thirty-four people were first time attendees either Saturday or Sunday. The message is getting out folks! Attendees in the 2- to 5-year category numbered between twenty-six or thirty-eight, depending on how I interpreted the numbers -- either attending with or without a spouse. Those who had attended six or more reunions numbered in excess of thirty-four (hard to tell exactly how many here also because registration sheets were not filled in correctly for this category). We will try to do better next year.

The registration sheets are important to us because from the registration forms we compile our mailing lists from which we send your reunion invitations. Also, John and I need your e-mail addresses to notify you about family concerns as well as the publishing date of the newsletter each month. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. Yes, there are always one or two who do not write anything but their names.

Speaking of the newsletter, I spoke to those attending the reunion about receiving a hard copy of the newsletter if the family did not own a PC. Twenty-two family members notified me to mail a hard copy of the newsletter to them. For sure, those mailings will occur during the month of August. I will delegate some of the names to other cousins who have volunteered to share the cost of mailing the hard copies.

Some interesting information follows about some of our family members who attended the reunion this year. Friend of the family, and adopted cousin, David Taylor was present with a wonderful collection of 8” x 10” photographs neatly displayed on four story- boards. David we always thank you for your interest in our family.

Niel Stewart was gracious enough to set up a booth out back of the church where he talked to those interested in the Stewart Family genealogy. Niel descends from Jackson Stewart, Frankie’s brother. He has extensively researched the Stewart family and is happy to share information on the Stewart/Stuart family. You can reach Niel at [email protected].

Shawn Grainger, a descendant of Reverend Jacob Silver and a resident of Austin, Texas visited the reunion for the first time. Shawn is a missionary and is on her way to Bolivia, South America, where she will teach school for the next three years. Aye, she is a Bonnie Red-haired lassie despite having some German ancestry. Shawn, God’s speed for your journey and His work.

Dale Wood Peterson, of New Haven, Connecticut, another first time attendee and a descendent of Reverend Thomas Silver came to the reunion with his Mom, Mary Margaret Silver Peterson and sister, Donna L. Peterson, of Chesapeake, Virginia and Virginia Beach, Virginia respectively, is another person of interest this year. Dale is an ordained minister and is Associate Dean of Students at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, CT. Imagine if you will, how I felt about filling the pulpit at our KONA worship service Sunday morning with such a distinguished guest in the congregation! I do believe preachers begat preachers in our family.

We were also honored, for the second year in a row, to have in attendance this year, authoress Maxine McCall and her husband, Don, of Morganton, North Carolina. Maxine wrote one of the earlier books about Frankie and Charlie Silver, They Won’t Hang a Woman. Maxine is in the process of writing an updated version of her book and was on a fact-finding mission to KONA. Maxine does plan to publish her new book by the end of this year and has graciously accepted an invitation to be our keynote speaker at next year’s reunion. Mark your calendar’s now folks. The fourth weekend in July.

Norma Westall, a descendant of Jacob and long time reunion attendee, briefly spoke and told us about many of the activities of past reunions. She also reminisced about the days when Wayne Silver was alive and how she and Wayne entertained school children who toured the family museum while on field trips.

Wayne’s Mom and our gracious hostess, Mrs. Ruth Silver, was in attendance on Sunday. We are always greatly honored to have her in our presence and we thank her for putting up with us year after year. Mrs. Ruth, as she is affectionately known, is one of the four trustees of the KONA Missionary Baptist Church.

   Josef Carl Ruth Jr., a descendant of Greenberry Silver and one of our speakers on Saturday, is certainly a celebrity in his own right. Joe, as he is affectionately known, lives in Washington, D.C. and works for the State Department in Washington. Joe’s area of expertise is North Korea and that is all we can say about that. He is the son of long time Silver Family reunion supporters Joe Ruth Sr. and Alice Ruth of Spruce Pine. The late Joe Sr. was a very special kilt wearing Scots friend of mine.  

We finally moved the days activities upstairs in the sanctuary of the church around eleven o’clock and Cousin Joe entertained the new comers, as well as other interested cousins, by telling us interesting facts about our ancestors who pioneered in the Maryland area prior to George Silver and Nancy Griffith’s move to North Carolina after the turn of the nineteenth century. Joe and his dad spent countless hours over the years researching the northern families of Duvall, Griffith, McCubbin, Gaither and Jones who were extended members of our Silver family in Maryland. Joe was certainly a knowledgeable and captivating speaker and kept the interest of our audience at a peak. Following a worthy-of-note question and answer time I introduced our keynote speaker of the day, columnist, author and playwright, Perry Dean Young.

Perry Dean came to the reunion “loaded for bear”, as the saying goes back in the mountains. Perry sat up a table on the grounds in back of church where he displayed his books, The Untold Story of Frankie Silver and Our Family Young. During his keynote address, Perry entertained us with his wit and humor as he told us some interesting facts about some of the recent written theories of the Frankie and Charlie Silver tragedy. The theories will be dramatized in his play, Frankie, which will again have a run during the summer of 2005 at SART Theater in Mars Hill, North Carolina on the campus of Mars Hill  College. His most recent play, Mountain of Hope, completed a run July 18th at the college theater. Perry is an accomplished writer and entertaining speaker and his talk was greatly enjoyed by everyone.

Shirley and Allen Nelson, keepers of the website,, have posted photos of the reunion on their website for your viewing pleasure. Shirley reported she and Allen visited the grave of Frankie Silver on July 23rd and the gravesite in Morganton, North Carolina is more accessible now and is legibly marked. Thanks Shirley and Allen for all you do for your extended Silver, Stewart and Parker Families.  

“T” shirt sales were good for the weekend. However, we did not yet recover our initial investment and still have many “T” shirts to sale. Please contact Laura Cooper at [email protected]. For $15.00, including postage and handling, you too can have a Silver Family reunion “T’ shirt. Pull up the web site and view the photos to see a photo of the “T” shirt worn by yours truly on photo number eleven.

Speaking of Laura Cooper! We cannot thank her enough for all her hard work. Laura arrives three days prior to the reunion and along with Cousin Wanda Silver, and Laura’s sister, Linda, the church -- incidentally that has been shut down for a year -- was opened, cleaned from top to bottom, aired out and made spic and span for our event. In addition, those same unselfish and wonderful ladies prepared a delicious dinner (well, lunch for you city folk) for us on Saturday. Baked ham, and turkey along with all the trimmings and deserts galore -- Laura and ladies, we owe you a great debt of gratitude.

Along with Laura’s hard efforts other unsung heroes helped make the reunion event successful as well. Jere Howell, who planned and implemented the printing and purchasing of the “T” shirts was busy in our “T” shirt booth both Saturday and Sunday. Jere, thanks for all your devotion to our family. 

John Silver! Enough cannot be said cousins for John’s tireless efforts of keeping our Silver Family history together. John was constantly busy from the opening bell assisting cousins with their family history. I prepared and gave him his lunch as he was too busy to get up from the table to make his own plate. We can never thank John enough for his beyond the call of duty devotion and his great love for our Silver Family history.

There were others who helped make the reunion successful. Kay Silver left her sick bed to arrive and man the registration table for us. It was her unselfish effort that helped me compile the data we needed on the registration sheets. Thanks Kay! We all need to keep Kay in our prayers as she continues to have some health concerns.

My dear wife Margaret was constantly milling about greeting and meeting folks to welcome them and helping them to feel at home. She also relieved Kay at the registration table from time to time and was at Laura’s beck and call in the kitchen. Margaret, thank you for your all around good ambassador work during the reunion. Oh, Margaret also played the piano for Sunday’s worship service. Her selection of music during the prelude and postlude was an inspiration to all of us who attended the service.

What did I do you ask? Oh, I helped here and there too!

Speaking of helping, if any of you want to become involved in planning and implementing the reunion, even though you may live out of town, please contact me. Cousin Sharon “Ginger” Cook Gavin of Powder Springs, Georgia volunteered to be a future helper. We certainly need help as we desperately need to plan some projects to have some work completed on the church building, which is in a sad state of disrepair. The bell tower is leaning, we need a new roof on the building, a lot of cosmetic works needs to be attended to and new carpet is needed for the back stairs and landings. Our funds are limited as all the money we receive are donations given during the reunion. Our proceeds this year amounted to a little over $300.00 and for the work to be completed we need several thousand dollars. We now have approximately $1,800.00 in the bank, monies we have slowly accumulated over the years for the roof repairs; however that is not nearly enough to seriously begin the roof project. Perhaps the Good Lord will touch someone’s heart somewhere and some generous benefactors will come forth to donate funds for a worthwhile tax-deductible project.

But back to the reunion. After lunch, I led eight carloads of cousins on a cemetery tour of Mitchell and Yancey Counties. We visited the picturesque Gouge Cemetery at Bandana where we saw the graves of the progenitor of the Gouge Family, William Gouge, as well as many of his descendents and extended family. We next crossed the highway to the Silver Chapel Baptist Church that is named in honor of our family and saw many Silver family graves there as well as extended families such as Hensley, Buchanan, Thomas and Robinson. From there we traveled many curvy miles and ascended and descended many hills and valleys before finally arriving at the Double Island Cemetery where many of the Robinson family are buried including the progenitor of the Robinson family, George Robinson, who arrived in the hills surrounding KONA in the late eighteenth century. By the time we visited the cemetery where Greenberry Silver is buried we were down to three cars. The hour was getting late and many folks headed for their hotels. We concluded our trip at the KONA Family Cemetery around 4:30.

Sunday morning was bright and beautiful as a hand full of folks gathered in the grove at the family cemetery overlooking the Silver homestead for a memorial service. We paused for some thirty minutes to memorialize those who had preceded us in death. After the reading of poems that inspired our hearts to honor our loved ones who have passed, their names were spoken aloud before those witnesses who attended and before God as well. The service is a very worthwhile event.

Our morning worship service in the sanctuary of KONA Missionary Baptist Church was Presbyterian in nature. We worshiped, praised and honored God through song, prayer, the reading of his word and from lessons about prayer. Jere Howell accompanied on the piano by Margaret Redmon loaned her beautiful voice to God for two very inspiring solos. Through the Grace of God I was able to honor Him by delivering the lesson of the day, Prayer, God’s Communication Line.

Our dining tables are always packed full of wonderful food and this year was no exception as we gathered in the basement of the church for our traditional Sunday meal. Grace was said by the Honorable and Reverend Dale Peterson and our feast began. It was only interrupted an hour later to take care of family business and to give door prizes to those who traveled the longest distance, to the oldest, to the youngest and to those who had the most family in attendance.  Plans are already under way for next year’s big event, so mark your calendars now.  Our reunion is always the fourth (4th) weekend in July.

Saturday evening, July 10, Margaret and I drove up to Mars Hill College in Madison County, North Carolina to see Perry Dean Young’s new play, Mountain of Hope. The play is based on the true story of the bitter betrayal that led to the death of UNC Prof. Elisha Mitchell, for whom Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Mississippi was named.

Much of the play Perry and co-author, William Gregg wrote, is taken directly from original documents and letters relating to the life and death of Mitchell which are now housed in the Southern Historical Collection of Manuscripts at UNC-Chapel Hill according to Perry.

The play was a delight to see as seasoned actors and actresses -- some from the mountain area -- brought to life many of the well-known mountain legends such as Big Tom Wilson and Zebulon Vance. The play closed July 18.

 Last month when we left Mary Belle Silver, she had finished reminiscing about her schooldays in Old Fort, North Carolina. This month, Aunt Belle remembers …

How A Vision Turned Into A Husband


You asked how I met John Rogers (1881-1945), my first husband. Well, I saw him in a vision three years before I ever laid eyes on him. I saw him, the house, the yard, everything.


Then one Sunday in 1909 when I was 18 years old and we were living at Horseshoe near Hendersonville  (North Carolina), Ma sent me to Mr. Davenport’s general store about a mile down the road to get some things she needed for Sunday.


I bought the items and had walked down the hill from the store when I remembered I forgot to buy matches. So I walked back up the hill to the store. “Mr. Davenport, I forgot to buy matches,” I told him, and he got them for me.


Then this boy there said. “Why didn’t you call me and I’d brought them to you?” As soon as I saw him, I knew he was the one I’d seen in the vision. This was John Rogers.


Three months later he came to the Horseshoe Baptist Church where I attended. I was with another young man at the time. But John attracted me and asked if he could walk me home. I said: “No, not tonight. I’m already engaged.”


Then he said, “If I come to church tomorrow can I speak to you?”  I told him yes. Well, that was the beginning, and three weeks later we were married (Nov. 14, 1909).


We were married for almost 36 years until John died July 3, 1945 at age 64. Don’t tell me God doesn’t bring people together and lock them together.


John was a second cousin of Will Rogers and was a lot like him. And it was John who wrote Will Roger’s newspaper columns for him.


John did all kinds of work. He was in the lumber business, kept bees, and in the winters, we’d go to Florida and were in the fruit business there.


Aunt Belle remembers … Winters In The Florida Fruit Business

For years, John and his younger brothers had gone down to Florida to work in the winters when there was no work in North Carolina.


Then Captain Pender, who lived near us at Horseshoe and had an interest in a veneer mill in Orlando, asked John to come down and teach workers there how to operate the lathes to turn out thinner boards to make orange crates. John went down and did that, but he didn’t like the work. So instead, we started going down in the winters to work the fruit business.


We worked for the Blue Goose Fruit Company at Rockledge, Florida. John was in charge of pickers and I was an inspector in the packing-house.


The company kept sending us from packinghouse to packinghouse to show them how to pack and finally it just got too hard on us. And John didn’t get along with the boss’ son-in-law so we quit.


Bruce Provost, a large grove owner and lifelong friend, then offered us a 22-room house at Cocoa for $12 a month rent, and we took it. We began cleaning and fixing it up, and when he saw what we were doing, he let us have it without paying any rent. We lived there and operated the first fruit stand on Highway 1 (Federal Highway) in Florida. This was about 1911 when it was just a dirt road.


I remember when we were just getting started. We picked up drop fruit that was dead ripe and put it in sacks and boxes to sell out by the roadside. One day, a busload of tourists stopped and we sold $388 worth of fruit that one evening. We sold fruit and we shipped fruit. We did well, and we’d go to Florida every winter.


We once were offered the whole end of the island that’s now the Cape Canaveral missile-launching site. They offered us 2,000 acres if we’d homestead it.


It was just a jumble of bushes, rattlesnakes, wild hogs and alligators. I asked John what he’d do with it. He said maybe we could clean it up and sell it. I said we’d both be dead before we got it cleaned up. So we didn’t take it.



September’s Silver Threads will continue with Aunt Belles Memories as she tells us about a visit from the Prime Minister of Canada and a little of this-and-that. If you are enjoying Aunt Mary Belles Memories and would like to see similar family stories in future editions of Silver Threads, I will be more than happy to publish them. There is one catch however; I need the stories. Only you can provide them, so send them to me.

Civil War Letters To Home…is a series of letters written by Confederate Soldiers, while on active duty during the Civil War, to their loved one’s back home. Many of the letters are written to members of our extended Silver Family by extended Silver Family members. Each month, as I publish the letters, I am attempting to identify as many of those family members as possible. This month’s Civil War Letters To Home are written by James H. Thomas and Tilman Silver.

James H. Thomas was the son of John Thomas and Lucinda “Cindy” Wilson. James was also the grandson of Aaron Thomas Sr. and great-grandson of Joseph Aaron Thomas. Lucinda was the daughter of William Wilson and Creany Thomas. The first letter, written by James H. Thomas is #630225, and is written from the battlefields of Shelbyville, Tennessee.

Shelbyville, Tenn.
Feb. the 25th 1863

Mr. G.D. Gouge  

Dear Friend:

I will drop you a few lines informing you that I am well and doing well. I hope that these few lines will come safely to your hand and find you and Rose both well.

I have no news of any interest to write at this time except that the enemy is advancing on us. And if they come, we will whip them, you know.

Garrett, I would like to see you and Rose the best sort. I would like to be at your house today as it is raining and we would have something to drink. I can say I (bought?) a gallon of old whiskey last night. It only cost $2.00 and you know that was cheap.

I can say that we have plenty to eat such as it is, and that is cornbread and old bacon.

Tell Aunt Juda Wilson and all her folks that I send them my love and best respects. Tell them to write to me. Also give my respects to Patterson Howell and Aunt Cinthey (Lucinda) and all the children and tell them that I would like to see them.

You must write to me as soon as you get this and give me all the news and tell me how all them pretty girls are getting along.

I must quit writing for I head cannon fire just now. So you must write soon and fail not. So no more at the present time. So I remain your friend until death.

James H. Thomas to G.D. Gouge and friends.


(Editor John Silver Harris Note: Aunt Juda Wilson was Judith Wilson, Rosanah Gouge’s mother.)

(Editor Rex Redmon note: I was unable to obtain any details of James H. Thomas except his family history. I do not know if he survived the war or not. G.D. Gouge and Rose is Garrett Dawes Gouge and Rosanah Wilson, a couple to whom many of the Civil War letters were written.


Letter number two this month is written by Tilman Silver as I previously mentioned. Tilman is Tilman Blalock Silver, son of Alfred Silver and Elizabeth Gouge. However Elizabeth died in July of 1860 and Alfred would soon marry Sarah Ann Chandler in May of 1863. It is letter #630315. As these letters were preserved by the Gouge family we must presume the Aunt and Uncle to whom Tilman is writing is of the Gouge family. He identifies which Grandparents he is writing during the closure of his letter. They are William M. Gouge and Martha Thomas. The letter follows...

March the 15th 1863

Dear Aunt and Uncle and Grandfather and Grandmother:

I seat myself the first time to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope this letter comes to hand and finds you all well. I have nothing of importance to write to you.

You don’t know how bad I want to see you all. I wish that I was at Grandfather’s this blessed Sabbath day.

I cannot tell you when I will be at home. When I get a furlough, I will try to come by and see you all. I think I will get a furlough in a week or two. We are doing the best we can. You know that camp life is a hard life to live but I am in hopes the time will soon come when we will get home among our friends.

We are staying in the courthouse in Jacksboro. I am sitting in the window with my back against the glass and brother Levi is sitting in the next window writing a letter.

The boys are all well and gaily. Me and Levi went yesterday and got us some whiskey. It is worth $10 a quart.

I am in hopes that peace will be made this spring. There is a heap of talk about peace now. I think that they will come to compromise shortly.

I think that we will be nearer home the next time you hear from us. I expect we will be on the railroad between Knoxville and Elizabethton. We are all glad to get there. We are all tired of Powell’s Valley and Jacksboro. I shall hate to leave this on account of getting to stay in a house.

I have joined (Capt. Samuel Marion) Silver’s company.

I can tell you now nothing about hard times. If your country had been eat out like this country, you would know what it is to shift. The citizens are about to perish.

I must bring my remarks to a close. If I never see you on this earth, I hope that we will meet in heaven where parting will be no more. Farewell for this time.

                                                       Tilman Silver to W.M. Gouge, Grandfather


Levi Deweese Silver is of course Tilman’s brother and they were the sons of Alfred Silver and Elizabeth Gouge. Tilman survived the war, married Darcus Mace and died 28 December 1906. Lewis Perry Silver, another brother to Tilman who married Nancy Woody died in the war on 8 November 1864.

Captain Samuel Marion Silver was Tilman’s uncle and younger brother to Alfred Silver. Rev. Jacob Silver and Nancy Reed were Samuel Marion‘s parents. Samuel Marion Silver attained the rank of Lt. Colonel during the Civil War. He later moved to Oregon where he died in Wallowa County on May 7, 1922.

Next month we will again hear from William “Little Billy” Gouge and also Garrett Dawes Gouge, to whom many of the letters from Little Billy were written. Garrett will be drafted into the military and is writing home to his wife, Rosanah Wilson Gouge.


Do you have old family letters that would either be historically interesting or contain fascinating information about which our extended family would like to know? If so, please send a copy of the letter to me and let me know who the writer and recipients are and how they connect to our extended family. I will publish them when space and time are available.

Cousins, that is all for this month. Let me hear from you if you attended the reunion and especially if you enjoyed it. I’ll take constructive criticism too as long as it is objective. John and I do hope you enjoy reading our newsletter. If so, please let us hear from you as well. A little praise and admiration for a thing goes a long way to getting a job done well.

I will close with this one final poem I read at the reunion. It was given to me by cousin Gladys Gibbs of Old Fort, North Carolina.

                                                          Cousin Rex Redmon


I climbed my family tree and found it wasn’t worth the climb

And so I scrambled down convinced it was a waste of time

Some branches of my tree I found were rotten to the core

And all the tree was full of sap and hung with nuts galore!

I used to brag of my kinfolks before I made the climb,

But truth compels me not to tell of those not worth a dime.

And I beg my friends who boast aloud of their ancestors great

To climb their family trees and learn of those who weren’t so straight

I learned what family trees are like and then I scrambled down

They’re like a “tater” vine because the best is underground.


                                                Author Unknown



John’s History Corner is taking the month off – see you in September!


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