Written and Published Online by John Silver

w/contributing articles by various Silver cousins



A big Hello to all of our readers, they be cousins, family or friends.

I hope this year has found you in good health and spirits. It has been a busy year for us but we’ve stayed out of the obituary column so we have a lot to be thankful for. I have no obituaries for this month so that is another good sign!

It looks as though we are headed for winter and it is only early Autumn. Where did the summer go?

While I had intended to do this with this article on Colonel Sam at a later date, I’m sure that our new readers can appreciate it now.  Colonel Sam has long been a hero to the Silver family and this information will fit right in with Cousin Rex’s Civil War series.

We wish you good health, wealth and happiness.  We’ll be here next month!

Barney, Rex and John



The following obituary for “Colonel Sam” was printed in The Enterprise Record Chieftain, an Oregon newspaper, dated June 22, 1922.)




The death of Samuel Marion Silver at his home in Troy on May 7, 1922 marked the close of a long, busy life.

Born at Burnsville, Yancey County, North Carolina, on December 30, 1833, his eighty-eight years, 29 of which were spent in Wallowa County, were filled with varied experiences.

His father, Jacob Silver, could neither read nor write when he married his second wife, Nancy Reed.  She, Samuel’s mother, had some education, a rare thing for a girl in those days.  She taught her husband who afterwards became a Baptist preacher.

Of the family of twelve children, one son, William manifested such a thirst for knowledge that he studied alone until he obtained a position teaching a private school in Tennessee.  There his younger brother, Samuel, went as a pupil.

Having mastered the rudiments, Samuel also became a successful teacher.  One of his schools had an average attendance of 80 pupils during his term.

On February 14, 1861, he married his favorite pupil, Mary Ann Wilson, and continued teaching, working on his farm at Bakersville between times.

Then came the Civil War.  The community was full of divided families.  Had not his grandfather served in the Revolutionary War under General Washington?  Had not his father served in the War of 1812?  He loved his country and especially his native State of North Carolina.

After a year of indecision, he cast his lot with the South and marched away as a Lieutenant 2nd Class of his hometown company.

The ability which succeeded with 80 pupils put him in line for advancement and the closing of the war found him bidding goodbye to the 58th North Carolina Regiment of which he was a Lieutenant Colonel in Command.

The period of reconstruction followed with desperately hard times in the South.  Colonel Silver tried the mercantile business, but went back to farming.  Never a slaveholder, he had always had trouble obtaining laborers.  Conditions failed to improve.

In 1870, his wife died, leaving him eight-year old Melissa and three little brothers --- Athen, Jacob and baby John.

On March 31, 1872, Martha Ann “Patty” Young became Mr. Silver’s second wife and mother to the little brood.

Financial hardships continued and in 1875 the family moved to a farm in McDowell County, hoping to better themselves.

Three years later, the beloved “Patty” died, leaving behind, Jesse, Martha and tiny Alonzo, her progeny.  Then Mr. Silver returned to Burnsville and again engaged in the mercantile business.

He was then father-mother-in one with seven children to care for!  How well he succeeded is evident, for two years later, attractive little Johnny became a connecting link between his dear teacher and the Silver family.  On November 28, Thanksgiving Day, 1880, Amanda Emmaline Ray and Samuel Silver were married at her parent’s home.

The family lived on the farm for several years.  In the meantime, Mr. Silver and one of the older sons spent a year in Texas, “spying out the land” but returned with an unfavorable report.  The family then moved to Glen, an isolated settlement at the head of Crabtree.

Sometime later, a brother, Edmund , came to Grouse Community in Oregon and sent back such glowing reports that Samuel Silver sold out and on April 18, 1893, he and the younger members of his family left North Carolina for Oregon.

The party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Silver, Martha, “Lon,” and the more recent additions---Weldon, Landon, Essie and Bessie.  Another son, Jacob Madison Silver, had died some years before.  Athen remained in North Carolina.  The others came later.

Arriving at Elgin, Mr. Silver went ahead to locate a claim.  He returned to his waiting family who had started to come by wagon via Flora.  The Grande Ronde River was unusually high so camp was made at the Renfro ranch.  There they were permitted to make a garden and gather wild fruits.  On August 25, 1893, the river was favorable and they went to their claim on the opposite bench.

The timber was dense and there was much to do before winter.  But for the kindness of settlers, who let them have potatoes and beans, the family would have fared very meagerly, as nothing could be hauled from the settlements.  It snowed continuously from January to the 10th of March, until it was over four feet deep.

Spring came at last and the homesick family planted an early garden.  By the middle of May, radishes, lettuce and green onions varied their scant menu and the phenomenal growth of that summer’s crops almost made up for previous privations.

Twenty years of pioneering, close application and strenuous effort passed.  Dense forest and burned clearings became orchard and garden.

Grouse post office had been established on the Silver ranch.  There, Mr. Silver was postmaster.

A church was erected on Grouse Flat and Mr. Silver, who had been a Sunday School superintendent for seven years in North Carolina, served Grouse community in the same capacity until his hearing began to fail---always in his place as long as his feet could carry him.

Finally, a severe illness caused him to sell out and locate on the Grande Ronde River at Troy.

There, “Grandpa” was a familiar figure, his tall form stooped over his well kept vegetable garden or working on his woodpile for he had no patience with idleness.

Last October (1921), he and “Grandma” left for a protracted visit with sons and daughters.

From Portland came interesting letters about the Live Stock Exposition and the sights, for “Grandpa” was a good scribe.

From Tacoma, news about his trip from Camp Lewis in a hydroplane, and how “Grandma,” not to be outdone, was ready for her air trip when he returned to terra firma.   

But he grew homesick for his own bed and chimney corner and in March he and “Grandma” came home.

At first he “chirked up,” but his strength began to fail.  He longed for his children.  John, Landon, Alonzo and Martha came at his summons and on Sunday Morning, May 7, 1922, he fell asleep.

Funeral services for Mr. Silver were held the following afternoon from Grouse Baptist Church, conducted by the Reverend A. W. Armstrong of Flora.  A large number of friends came to pay their last tribute.

Mr. Silver is survived by one sister, 96-year-old Lucinda Norman, of Leger, North Carolina; his wife, Amanda E. Silver; and 11 children.

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Rev. Jacob Silver > Samuel Marion Silver)



This is an article by Elizabeth Hunter of the Mitchell News-Journal Staff. Seen here by courtesy of the Editor of the Mitchell News-Journal.  Myrtle, born 6 January 1901, passed away on 10 June 2000 but I think she was an outstanding figure to represent the elders in our mountain homes.




“I’ve been a workin’ woman all my life,” said 87 year old Myrtle Burleson of Lower Hanging Rock Road in Spruce Pine. “When you quit and set down, you’re done for.  The first thing you know, you don’t want to do nothin’.”

Mrs. Burleson is a short, compact woman with snowy white hair and a smile that blooms slowly and lights up her face.  She has lived at the bottom of a sloping hillside for 61 years in a small white house that her late husband Steve Burleson built to replace their previous home, up on the top of the hill.  “It was so windy up there, the wind used to blow the doors open of a night,” she said.

She’s planted her yard with hundreds of bulbs of daffodils, with flowering quince and forsythia bushes and dozens of other flowering plants.  When a relative offered her a newer, easier-to-get-around home a few years ago, she turned it down. 

“You know why?” she said. “because I knew I’d never get my flowers planted all over again the way I have them here.”

Outside work is the one thing Mrs. Burleson acknowledges that “she can’t do like I used to.” But she still drives a big 34 year old Ford Galaxie she keeps in the garage, still makes all her own clothes, still bakes and sells stack cakes, still sews quilts for herself and others, still cans applesauce and beans.

Last year, she estimates she averaged a quilt a week.  All 23 of her great-grandchildren (not to mention her own children and grandchildren) have received them as gifts – all but seven of them in the last year, and she has begun making crib quilts in anticipation of great-great-grandchildren.

“I used to make a garden and work in the yard.  I’ve poured cement and everything else.  I can’t do that anymore – I give out bending over – but I can sit and quilt all day.  At the end of one of those days, you don’t know how much I have enjoyed it.

A quilting frame is a permanent fixture in her living room.  The day I visited her it was empty as it only rarely is – and raised up to the ceiling.

“I’m taking a rest from it right now,” she said.  But a pillow she was sewing on was laid out in a chair, and her needles and thread were close at hand.

“I believe I was born with a needle and scissors in my hand,” she said. “Even when I was a little girl, I sewed.  I used to cut up old dresses to make doll clothes.”

With the exception of the ten years she spent trimming mica in the 1950s, Mrs. Burleson has held jobs at dry cleaning establishments, where she sewed for customers needing alterations and repairs.  Her last away-from-the-home job, with Spruce Pine Cleaners, ended about thirty years ago.

Until Roses came to Spruce Pine, “and made it so people could buy clothes cheaper than they could buy yardage and bring it to me,” Mrs. Burleson had a stream of customers for whom she sewed clothes.  Now most of her customers come to her for quilting.

Mrs. Burleson went to work at the mica house located in the old Spot Building Supply building on the Avery County Highway after “Preacher” (Charlie) Carpenter sent word” for her to seek a job there. The 75-cent/hour starting pay was considerably more than her sewing job paid, so she agreed.

The work force of 30 – 40 people at the Spot were mostly women, and were trimming mica into 1-, 2-, 3-inch and larger squares for the “government project” during the years that mica was classified as a strategic mineral.  After Mrs. Burleson worked at the Spot building for about a year, the operation moved to the second floor of the brick building at Mitchell Lumber Company which served as the U. S. Government’s mica depot.  About fifty to sixty worked mica there, she estimated.

“When I first started, I cut little pieces,” she said.  “You had to get three pounds a day to keep your job.” Her chance to trim larger material came when her boss asked her why she cut pieces the others had rejected.  When she answered that she was able to salvage usable material from it, she was promoted to trimming “Big mica, which was a lot easier.”

After work at the depot ended, Mrs. Burleson continued to cut mica in the basement of  her house where her trimming table and light are still set up though she hasn’t worked mica in years.

Mrs. Burleson was the third of nine children of the late Sam and Mamie Pendley Silver, who lived up Beaver Creek.  A mine above their house produced what may have been the largest block to come out of a Mitchell County mine, though tales of huge chunks of mica abound.

“I’ve heard that that block was big enough for eight men to dance on,” her son Phillip said.

Her grandparents Elisha and Viney Thomas Silver are buried up on Dogwood Flats, near where her father once mined feldspar and mica.  As a child, Mrs. Burleson remembers salvaging scrap mica  from mine dumps and taking it down to a store at Beaver Creek to sell.

Of Mrs. Burleson’s eight siblings, only her youngest brother Sam Silver is still living.  She and her husband were parents of four children, Philip and Carl Burleson, both of Spruce Pine, Danny Burleson of Banner Elk and Hazel Aydlette of Greensboro.

When I finished this story, a week after interviewing her, I called to check on a couple of facts – and interrupted her in the middle of putting another quilt on her frame.

“I took one off last night,” she told me.

“I thought you were taking a rest from quilting,” I said.

She laughed. “Well, I did,” she said.  “I’m getting out my calendar and putting ‘quilt number one’ on it, on the eleventh (of January).  I’m going to keep track of them, so if anybody asks me how many I have made this year, I’ll know.”

George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Rev. Jacob Silver > David Ralph Silver > Elisha P. Silver > Samuel Washington Silver > Myrtle Melvina Silver m. Steve Burleson)



The 58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, Company “K”

& Civil War Letters to Folks Back Home

by Rex H. Redmon


Hello Cousins,

During September of 1863, the 58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment and our Silver cousins from Mitchell County, North Carolina, lay in battle formation along the Chickamauga River in Northern Georgia with high hopes of keeping Union Troops from invading further into the Deep South. Garrett Dawes Gouge had written a letter on September 29, 1863 to his wife, Rosannah, telling her he was very ill and weak because he was suffering from dysentery. He also told Rosannah about the tragedies and difficulties of war, sharing with her the deaths of close family friends who were killed in battle and rejoicing that many extended Silver family members still lived. [1]  

As I go to press this Monday, the 19th day of September 2005, exactly one-hundred-forty-two years ago on this day, Saturday, 19 September, 1863, the two great armies of the Confederate and the Union stood staring at each other in battle formation at early light according to Jeffery Craig Weaver, author of the 58th North Carolina Infantry, Company K.[2]

The diary of Captain Isaac Bailey of the 58th North Carolina states;

“After remaining in line for about forty-five minutes the command was given, `Unfurl your banners!’ Bailey says at that moment, the sun broke forth, dispelling the fog, and as our banners floated out in the breeze the Federals, our enemy, commenced playing Yankee Doodle and moved out eastward on a parallel line with ours. Almost immediately we were ordered to march in a parallel direction, the enemy inclining to the right and us to the left.”


“There was a terrible cannonading around us, but with little damage―none to the Fifty-eight North Carolina. Very soon after this we captured a battery of artillery on a round eminence (prominent hill) in a cornfield, and greatly hoped to get to guard them, but by the time we had exchanged a few chews of tobacco, (with the enemy) we were ordered away. For the balance of the day, with the rest of the brigade, we were held in reserve.”[3]



Bailey continues writing in his diary on September 20, 1863.

“At about seven o’clock Sunday morning, the 20th, the two flanking companies, A and B, commanded by Captains Bailey (himself) and Captain Toby, of the Fifty-eighth North Carolina Volunteers, together with five companies from the other regiments, were put under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Kirby, of the Fifty-eighth, and ordered in the direction of Alexander’s bridge across the west prong of the Chickamauga River as skirmishers (reconnaissance) to feel the strength of the enemy in that direction.”


“We proceeded about one and a fourth miles when we came to an open field laying along the Chickamauga River some three fourths of a mile in length and about the same in breadth. When we had gone nearly half way down through the field, we could see fortifications all up and down the river the full length of the field and about twenty-five yards from the river.”


“We knew the enemy was behind the breast works, but we had to advance to feel his strength. So, we slowly advanced until we came to the fortifications of fence rails leaning from our advance in the direction to the river to where the enemy had fallen back to and under that bank of the river to draw us over, then to fire on us as we would have to retreat across the fortifications just passed, As soon as the line of skirmishers had passed over the fortifications, the enemy fired from their ranks, three or four men deep, a most galling and enfilading (rake of gunfire across a position) fire into our ranks. We had now ascertained by sad and painful experience what we have been sent out to do.”


“We were then obliged to retreat through the rail fortifications upon the woods and across the old fields of broom straw waving in the melancholy wind, and over a number of our most loved comrades left for dead on the field. One of them, Thomas G. Tipton, had just saved my life.”[4]



Brigadier General William Preston of Kentucky remembers the battle as follows;

“On Sunday, about midday, the battle became quite fierce along the right towards Chattanooga, and there was a general advance on the left wing under Lieutenant General Longstreet. Stewart’s division and Trigg’s brigade were moved forward northwestwardly in the direction of Brotherton’s house and the Chattanooga Road. Under an order from Major General Buckner, I advanced with Gracie’s, and Kelly’s brigades, with the exception of the 65th Georgia, Colonel Moore, which was left to protect Jefferies’ battery, near Hunt’s filed, on the left. Gracie’s and Kelly’s brigades were formed in a line of battle across the Chattanooga road in front of Brotherton’s house, and Trigg a short distance in the rear. The enemy, in some fields on the north, maintained an active fire of shot and shell on my troops until about half-past three o’clock. When I received an order to move towards Dyer’s house and field to support Brigadier General Kershaw. Guided by Captain Terrell, I advanced with Gracie’s and Kelly’s brigades. Trigg’s having been retained near Brotherton’s by Major General Buckner to resist and apprehended attack of cavalry on our left and rear. After moving through the woodland between the Chattanooga road and Dyer’s farm house, I reached a large field extending northward to some wooded ravines and heights.”


As we read about the battles described both by Bailey and Preston we capture the flavor of Garrett Gouge’s last letter when he writes to Rosannah on the 29th of September,

“On the morning of the 19th, we crossed the river and formed a line of battle and heavy skirmishing (fighting) began in the early morning and by half past eight o’clock, they were in a close fight and fought until dark.”


“Sunday, the 20th, the fight began to rage by 9 o’clock and we were held as a reserve until half past three o’clock. We were then marched into the heaviest of the fight and fought until after dark. The enemy then fled before us and three regiments of the enemy surrendered to us and the fight ended. We lay all night on the battle field.”



Weaver records the fighting as follows:

“The 58th North Carolina moved with the brigade about 3:00 p.m. in the direction of Chattanooga...the 58th was on the right...the 58th moved from a thicket toward the enemy’s lines under heavy fire to within 15 paces of the Federals. The Federals called out as friends and the attack was broken off. This gave the Yankees time to recover, and to take up positions on the ridge. The 58th North Carolina fell back, according to French (Commander of the 63rd Virginia Infantry), exposing his left flank. The 63rd was then subjected to enfilading fire from the enemy. Several of the officers were killed or wounded, and the battle raged until sundown, when the Federals broke off the engagement according to Major James Milton French’s report.”


Bailey’s account of the battle reads as follows;

“The line being again formed, the 58th North Carolina, which was on the right, moved with steadiness through this comparatively open space till the extreme right arrived within ten or twelve feet of the enemy. The line of the brigade formed with the line of the enemy…after exchanging gunfire with the enemy for about one and three fourths of an hour, we attempted to dislodge him by assault, and for that purpose the Fifty-eighth North Carolina was transferred from the right of the line to the left of the line, and mover forward, swinging somewhat to the right. When we arrived at the base of the hill, the enemy was heard to cry, We Surrender! We surrender!”


French’s report said,

“The 58th North Carolina, marching into the enemy as if on parade and without firing a shot until they were within forty paces, faced the entrenched Federals and exchanged shot for shot for over an hour.“


There is some confusion with regard to who actually surrendered however. Weaver further states when the Yankees were told to lay down their arms after surrendering they began firing on the rebels who were only forty paces away. Weaver says a postwar letter from a Federal soldier to a Confederate Veteran reported the Federals thought the Southerners were surrendering. Within an hour nevertheless two hundred forty-nine Federal soldiers were captured and sent to the rear. Garrett Gouge says in his letter to Rosannah that three regiments of Union Soldiers were captured on September 20th. Weaver reports the 22nd Michigan, the 89th Ohio and part of the 21st Ohio were captured during the battle. If a regiment was only made up of one hundred men each, then the numbers are correct. Yet, in today’s modern army, a company comprises of approximately two hundred men. 

Captain Bailey reports in his diary that the 58th North Carolina fought on until nightfall, gaining the high ground at all costs. He says the 58th was exposed to “galling fire” not only from the front but from the flanks as well. He reports the left flank of the 58th was only ten to twelve feet from the Yankees. He says the 58th was taking fire from point blank range. Bailey says his company of thirty-four men charged the hill and of the thirty-four only twelve survived.

The battle that ensued on that dreadful Sunday back on September 20, 1863, is quoted by Weaver as Nothing in this battle, marked with gallantry so frequently that it became commonplace, surpassed the courage of these two brigades. (Kelly’s 58th North Carolina and Gracie’s Alabama brigade) as they watched their ranks thin minute by minute and still doggedly refused to yield an inch of ground.

Bailey’s diary confirms some of the casualties of the 58th North Carolina by saying;

“Thirteen commissioned officers, including the Adjutant had been killed or wounded, two thirds of “B” Company and about seven-tenths of his “A” company were killed or wounded, echoing the words of Garrett Gouge where he says in his letter; I am sorry to tell you of the loss of so many of our good friends. Benjamin Willis and Wyatt Woods were killed dead on the field. There were 37 of our Regiment (The 58th North Carolina) killed and 132 wounded.”


I will close this month’s report from the battlefields of the 58th North Carolina in Tennessee and Georgia with the following words from Garret as he describes the calm on Monday morning after the two-day battle.

On Monday morning all was calm only the terrible groans of the wounded which were heard in every direction. I don’t know the total loss on either side but it was terrible. I think the enemy lost two to our one in killed and wounded and prisoners. I don’t think they took but a few of our men prisoners. We are still in sight of the Yankees. They are in Chattanooga and we are within a mile and a half of town, but all is quiet now. I am so unwell I cannot write all I wish. I have to close.


As do I need to close for now, cousins. Thank you for reading our newsletter. If you enjoy the newsletter drop John a note telling him how much you appreciate his efforts as editor. He will greatly appreciate hearing from you.


Aye yours…Rex Redmon




John Silver
Genealogist & Editor
64S Fairfield Drive
Dover, DE 19901
[email protected]

Barney Kaufman
7408 Lake Drive
Manassas, VA 20111-1960
[email protected]




[1] Letter # 630929 reproduced in Silver Threads, Volume III, Issue No IX, September 2005 from the Gouge Family Collection of Civil War letters in the Author’s possession.

[2] 58th North Carolina Infantry Regimen. Jeffery Craig Weaver. Self Published. 1995, 1997. Arlington, Virginia.

[3] IBID.

[4] IBID