december 2005


Written and Published Online by John Silver

w/contributing articles by various Silver cousins



Dear families, cousins and friends who read our letters,

 How fast the year went. I was just beginning to enjoy the warm weather when we were snowed upon.  No, not in Delaware, but in Connecticut.  We were visiting my oldest son and his family during Thanksgiving.  We were reminded of how lucky we are to be able to visit our children and grandchildren when we like and we have not forgotten the pitter-patter of little feet!

But to all our folks, have a joyful and prosperous holiday season.

Happy Holidays



Several years ago I was corresponding with Dwayne M. Shippey, a great-grandson of Colonel Samuel M. Silver.  Unfortunately, Dwayne passed away a few years ago from a rare type of cancer.  He had filled me in on some of the children and grandchildren of Col. Sam and I think our Silver family members will be quite interested in the results of our correspondence. I have copied these letters exactly as Dwayne wrote them. JS



Date:    November 15, 1994

From:   Dwayne M. Shippey    
4525 N.W. 187th St.
Portland, Oregon

For the record, my mother, Velma T. Silver Shippey, who is now 87 and doing quite well – married Earl Topping – was divorced prior to my birth and remarried my Stepfather Lloyd E. Shippey when I was two years old.  I have used his name since that time except for a short time, two years, when I enlisted in the Air Force in January 1951 and was told I had to use the name Topping as I was not legally adopted.  I had it changed to Shippey while I was in the Air Force, however it took two years for the change to catch up with me. I have had no contact with my father’s side.

My mother Velma, had a twin who passed away in 1973, Thelma Silver House, she was married to Cyril “Bud” House who passed away in 1982.  She had two half-sisters, Pearl Silver Weaver and Hannie Silver Puller who passed away in their 90s. She also had a half brother, Cary Silver, who passed away when he was 25 or so and is buried in Spokane.  My grandfather, John M. Silver died in October 1962 at almost 93.  He was living with Aunt Pearl in Azusa, California at the time and is buried in Wallowa, Oregon along with my grandmother Julia Ray Silver. Her maiden name of Ray changed over the years from Rhea & O’Rhrea.  Her father joined Sherman and from what I understand was killed or died in Atlanta.  A contrast from my other great-grandfather Samuel M. Silver (Lt. Col.) 5th Reg. Burke County, N.C.  My great-grandmother, Amanda Ray received a Government Widow Pension until her death.  Her name was Pickens and from what I understand there were 14 brothers and sisters.  From what I understand she came west with Samuel Silver and later they were married although I would want to check this out.  Samuel Silver is buried at Bartlett Flats in the Troy, Flora, Oregon area.  He died in 1922.

I was the only child from my mother and Earl Topping.  My stepfather, Lloyd Shippey, from a previous marriage had two sons, Gene and Lloyd Jr.  Gene stayed in Flint, Michigan with his mother’s family and passed away when he was 12.  I never met him.  Lloyd Jr. and I were brought up as brothers.  He was career Army, Korea and 2 tours in Viet Nam.  He retired as a major and passed away on March 5, 1973.  My stepfather had passed away on January 7, 1973.  Another son, Lawrence T., was born to my mother and stepfather.  He passed away in 1939 at the age of three and is buried at Grants Pass, Oregon.  At the time, my grandparents were living in Grants Pass and were my stepfather’s relatives.

I have several cousins on the west coast.  Bill Lewis (he attended the reunion in Kona last year), his brothers Bob and Bud. Sisters Susan and Sally (twins), Kit Weaver of Olympia, WA, his mother was Pearl Silver Weaver, his sister Ida also lives in Olympia. Aunt Hannie Silver Puller had three sons, Elvern, Wesley and one other who I can’t remember his name. Also, Aunt Pearl had one other son Cody Boone Weaver who passes away some years ago.  Both Cody and Kit were Navy veterans of World War II.  Another cousin (2nd) is Carley Jean Watkins Sulmonetti.  She and her husband, Alex, have a son David and a daughter, Sharon Henks. Our daughter, Juliane, Sharon and David attended Oregon State University together.

My wife was born in Rome, Italy. (Paola Maria Villa pronounced Paula in the US).  Her father, Alberto “Al” Villa, was with the Italian Government and had held posts in Panama and the Dominican Republic.  He quit government service in 1951 and moved to Atlanta and was with a paper company until he made a trip to San Francisco.  He decided to move there and opened up his own import and export business.  He passed away in 1957 at the age of 46.  My wife and I met in college in San Francisco.  My stepfather had been transferred to San Francisco in 1951.  Paola and I have been married for 37 years last May (1994). I have one brother-in-law who teaches languages at Catlin Gable School (Private) in Portland and one in Rome who has his own record producing business.

September 30, 1997.

James D. “John” Silver
64 South Fairfield Drive
Dover, DE 19901-5723



Dear Cousin James:

It is time I brought the east coast up to date with the west coast and the Samuel Marion Silver division, John M. Silver regiment, Velma T. Silver Shippey company.

Sadly my mother, Velma T. Silver Shippey passed away on March 21, 1997 at age 89.  She had been ill since October of 1996.  Considering she renewed her Oregon driver’s license in June of 96 was a surprise.  We will all miss her.  As far as I know she was the last grandchild of Samuel Silver.  She was born in Troy, Oregon on June 7, 1907 and passed away on March 21, 1997 in Portland, Oregon.  She is buried at Finley’s Sunset Hills cemetery located on U.S. 26 west of Portland.

However I am pleased to announce that our daughter Juliane M. Shippey Pheifer and her husband Jeffrey Pheifer are the parents of Nicole Marie Pheifer who arrived at 1800 hours on September 25, 1997, 8 lbs 9 ozs and 20 ½ inches long.  Juliane did have a difficult time however both mother and baby are doing fine.  I might add that this was the first time for Paola and me.

Not to be outdone our son, Craig and his wife Renae Chappell Shippey delivered a son Samuel Riley Shippey, 7 lbs 4 ozs and 20 inches long.  Samuel only waited 45-minutes from the time Renae and Craig entered the hospital door.  He arrived at 1029 on Sunday, September 28, 1997, and yes, he is named after his g-g-g-grandfather, Samuel Marion Silver.  What a week that was!

I called cousin Kit Carson Weaver yesterday to bring him up to date. (he lives in Olympia, Washington and is my mother’s sister Pearl’s son.) He was in Kona this summer and advised us he came up with another spelling on the Ray side.  When cousin Bill Lewis and his wife Arley were in Ireland and Scotland they were unable to come up with the name O’Rea or O’Rhea.  However, Kit advised that he was advised the name was O’Reich.  I will see how far I can trace this.

While going through some of mother’s things I came up with two newspaper articles.  One dated 1928 and the other 1927 regarding the “Pickens” clan gathering in South Carolina.  Andrew Pickens and Catherine Weaver were my great-grandmother’s (Margaret S. Pickens Ray) father and mother.  I don’t know if any other Pickens married a Silver or a Ray.  I assume the other names mentioned in the article are related to me including the Carters, however, I believe it is the June Carter Cash’s line, not President Carter.  The other concerns the will of Mrs. Cornelia S. Pickens who was married to Colonel Sidney Vance Pickens.  I am trying to locate the book mentioned in the “Pickens Family Elects Officers” article.  Perhaps it was published or perhaps not.

I have also included a copy of my grandmother’s obituary for Julia M. Ray Silver and a copy of my mother’s obituary.

Included is a copy of my grandfather John M. Silver when he was around thirty (this was taken in Troy, Oregon) and another when he was in his late eighties in Azusa, California.  The other photo is of my grandmother, Julia Ray Silver (sitting on the floor), and my great-grandmother Margaret S. Pickens Ray and I believe my grandfather John M. Silver.  However, his face cannot be seen due to the photo being scratched.

I also have a book written by Judge Felix E. Alley, titled the “Random Thoughts and the Musings of a Mountaineer.”  This was printed by the Rowan Printing Company of Salisbury, N.C. and bound by the Carolina Ruling and Binding Company located in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is a first edition dated 1941.  I’m not sure how this ties in however the book was dedicated to Judge Alley’s wife Mary Elvira Alley and his daughter Edna Louise Ray.  No doubt his daughter is where the relation comes in.  I am also trying to track this.  There is a foreword on the book jacket by Robb L. Madison, President Emeritus of Western Carolina Teacher’s College and by Governor (I can’t read the signature) but it looks like Jim Broughton, State of North Carolina.  Very interesting book.  I have included a copy of the table of contents and a page of the book that has reference to, I believe, my g-g-grandfather, Andrew Pickens.

I have many photographs, many of which I cannot identify, including a tintype of my grandfather John M. Silver when he was about ten years old.

That’s enough for tonight.  If I find anything of interest I will let you know.  I had hoped to go to Wallowa and Troy this summer, however, summer came and went and I have not made the trip yet.

Warmest Regards,

Dwayne Shippey
4525 N.W. 187th
Portland, Oregon  97229



Unfortunately, Dwayne and I never did get to finish our family information discussions.  He died from a thyroid cancer shortly after this letter was sent.



From: John Silver Harris

To: John Silver

Date: 11/01/2005

Subject: Getting hammered by hurricane.



Getting hammered by a hurricane

with John Harris in Boca Raton, Florida


Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and dozens of others had passed us by.  And we expected Wilma would be no different.

After all, Wilma had already swung around the Florida Keys and was onto the coast of Mexico far out to our west.  But then she took an eastward swing and suddenly we in South Florida were right in Wilma’s bulls-eye.

So here we were.  Mr. Kitty and I -- two aging tomcats sharing a bachelor pad.  Now, on occasion, we welcome female friends into our realm.  These are loving ladies.  But the welcome mat was definitely not out for the likes of a wild woman Wilma – a real witch-bitch!  Her ever--closing presence was a dreaded intrusion into our lives.  It was a nightmare just as if your ex-wife suddenly decided to return.

Soon Wilma was on us with all her fury wind wailing like a banshee, with gusts well over 100 miles-per-hour.  We had shuttered up and battened down, but the house seemed to shake.  There was a horrible cacophony of destruction-pops, snaps, crashes and crackles, shrieks and howls – as Wilma danced her destructive path through our neighborhood.  Behind the wailing gusts, there was a constant unnerving, rumbling roar.

Mr. Kitty was terrified.  He took refuge in my lap and he would jump with every sudden pop or crash.  In an effort to soothe him, I spoke softly and reassuring while stroking him gently.  But, truth be told, I was a bit jumpy myself.  And who wouldn’t be, with 100 mph-plus winds roaring outside and threatening to rip the roof right off from your head.

Wilma was a vicious vixen.  She left us feeling raped and ravaged in the wreckage of her wake.  And she pushed us right back into the pre-Thomas Edison dark ages-no phone, no electricity.  And thus it would remain for at least a week afterward.  Longer for many areas.

When Wilma finally departed out to sea, I looked out to find she had ripped out my patio screening, trashed the pool, skewered the rooftop antenna and littered the lawn with the limbs from who knows where.

Yet, I was fortunate.  Wilma had taken perverse pleasure in toppling trees and flattening fences.  But, several years back, I had removed the four big trees from my lawn.  And, I have no fence.  Thus I was spared some of the devastation that befell my neighbors.  But none of us escaped unscathed.  Wilma gave us all a walloping.

I was also fortunate that I had prepared well in order to avoid the highway hell that follows every hurricane.  When the power goes out, there are no functioning traffic signals, and trying to negotiate unregulated intersections becomes something akin to Russian roulette.  Earlier, I had cancelled all my appointments, so that I didn’t have to venture out, and I didn’t.  Therefore, I can’t give you an account of the traffic chaos, but my colleague, Frank Cerabino, did in the Palm Beach Post:

“I never thought I’d be something nice about traffic lights,” he wrote.  “But here goes.  I’m looking forward to driving up to a red light again.

“Navigating through busy intersections without traffic lights has its cowboy charm, but as the days go by, I find myself marking my journeys by how many precarious unmarked intersections I still have to cross.

“(Most) intersections…are dangerous enough with traffic lights.  Without them, they’re a rolling game of chicken.

“Part of the problem maybe that we, as a community, are not well-suited to group behavior that requires uniform displays of patience and courtesy. 

 “These unregulated intersections work only if each car stops, and the one that has stopped the longest goes first.  But that’s not always what happens.”

Frank then listed six types of drivers he had observed at the intersections.  Here are a couple:

“The Premature Accelerator: This is the driver who jumps out too soon, then loses his nerve somewhere near the middle of the intersection.  He stops, then takes another look around to reassess his options.  This causes a condition known as Trafficus Interruptus, paralyzing other drivers who are now unwilling to move an inch until The Premature Accelerator is back in motion and well out of collision range.

“The New Yorker:  ‘What other cars?’ ”

Area newspapers reported at least two drivers were killed in collisions at these unregulated intersections during the first week after the hurricane.

There are those who always insist on finding a bright side to any event no matter how disastrous.  I hate those kind of guys!  Howard Goodman, columnist for The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, is an example. Howard wrote:

“Yes, this post hurricane living is miserable.

“You keep flicking light switches, out of dumb habit, and nothing happens.  Your house is as dark as Johnny Cash’s jeans.  Your refrigerator no longer keeps food cold.  It is now a food closet.

“You’re told to boil the water, but you can barely get the backyard grill to bring your water up to tepid.  The dirty dishes are taking over the kitchen.  Your hygiene is a joke that involves sponge baths  (or cold showers).

“The gas lines are epic, the grocery stores are out of meat, and you’re supposed to be pleased that the president is paying a visit.” Okay, Howard,  so good so far. But then he had to add:

“But I was out in the back yard the other night with my family and we looked at the stars, stars that look more brilliant and more plentiful than they ever do when the South Florida night goes pale from the tint of a million streetlights.

“And we realized: There’s something to be said for losing the electric grid…”

Well, Howard, I agree that there is something to be said, but it can’t be printed in a family newspaper.

But, I’m not a total cynic.  I too saw a bright side to the Wilma aftermath-my fine neighbors.  They graciously shared with me their hot food, bottled water, ice and good fellowship—items often in short supply after the hurricane.

In fact, I ate better after the hurricane than before.  My neighbors had cooked.  I don’t.

So, I want to say: “you’re the greatest” to Jim and Sherry, Mark and Angie, Vince and Karen, Gary and Gloria, Pat, Dana, Joan, Ron and Anna, Joe and Shirley, Don and Heide, Art, Ella and Eric.

To you, my heartfelt thank you, for being my wonderful neighbors and making a dark side of life a bit brighter.

And to all who expressed concern for my well-being: Thank you! –John



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

& Civil War Letters to Folks Back Home

by Rex H. Redmon



Season’s Greetings Cousins,


As did the armies of ancient times, hostilities between the Confederate and Union forces on the border of Tennessee and Georgia came to a virtual stand still during the long winter months of 1863-64. The letters written to folks back home from the men of the North Carolina 58th are few and far between during that winter. The following exert is from a letter Garret Dawes Gouge wrote home to his wife, Rosanna Wilson Gouge, on November 8, 1863.

I have nothing strange to write you at present. The Yankees are still at Chattanooga. We are in sight of their camp but no fight expected soon as I know of. They are cannonading some today and have been burning more or less every day but no expectation of a regular engagement soon. Times are much like they have been for the last three weeks.[1]


Garret briefly describes for us what history has previously recorded about the engagements between the Confederate and Union forces during the winter months following the Battle for Missionary Ridge. Brief skirmishes against a probing reconnaissance force and occasional bombardments to let one side know the other side is still alive and kicking was the extent of hostilities.

Another letter, written to his family on March 27, 1864, by Lieutenant Poindexter Blevins from Ashe County, describes the conditions of the roads in Southern Tennessee.[2]

Our great army is apparently still at this time, owing to the bad condition of the roads has prevented any ground movement of these Western armies, but the weather is very pleasant at this time, and no doubt but a few days will soon begin or renew the bloody strife.


Despite reports from both sides of the battle lines that the enemy was greatly devastated during the Missionary Ridge Battle, there were still enough forces in the field on both sides to not only mount a major attack when the spring thaw arrived, but there were also enough soldiers in the field to sufficiently defend their positions as well.

In his book, Rebellion Record, author Frank Moore gives an account of the Yankee aggressor’s opinion about the battle for Missionary Ridge. He states, The Yankees claimed there were attacked by four divisions of Rebel troops ― a whole Army Corps ― plus a division of Confederate Calvary. He also says the Federal losses amounted to less than 200 killed, wounded, and missing. The Yankees also claimed the Confederate losses in the battle will not fall below five-hundred[3]. Lieutenant Blevins gives an entirely different story in his letter.

On the other hand Lieutenant Blevins also has an opinion as to why there is a lull in the fighting between the two armies bivouacked between Dalton, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

My opinion is that the Yankees is laying in large supplies at Chattanooga to support their vast army in their attempt to drive us from the field and if successful to feed them as they advance toward Atlanta…


Blevins also has an opinion about the modus operandi of Grant’s Army Barbarity and cruelty continues to follow their whole line of march as the helpless women and children is witness against them, that is caught in side of the Enemy’s lines in his advance, his (He refers to General Grant as Commander and Chief of the Union aggressors) last attack on Dalton did not leave him guiltless of inhumane cruelty, and such I fear will follow his whole line of march.[4]


Jeffrey Craig Weaver, originator of most of the material I am using to write the stories about the North Carolina 58th, , quotes a Virginia soldier in the hard winter of 1863-64: Our fare here was of the poorest kind; viz: stale bread and fat bacon and sometimes not much of that. Another said in a letter to his parents in Grayson County, Virginia; that his daily ration was one pound of bacon or a pound of beef and one pound of corn meal.  He also noted that they had draud (drawed) one days rations of stuff they called flour but they were mistaken because it was chafe or wheat ground and was not bolted. It was enough to take the worms out of a gasping chicken’s throat, he said.[5]

Captain Clark, of Virginia’s 63 Infantry Regiment, noted on May 1, 1864 that none of our boys are deathly sick. Weaver says it was also noted on postwar rosters for sub elements of the brigade that they were in skirmishes and partial engagements almost daily in the early part of May 1864. He says this was true of the entire Georgia campaign; the fighting did not cease at any time for more than a week.

Weaver goes on to say during the first days of May, 1864, the last days the regiment would spend in Dalton, Georgia, an event occurred which made a lasting impression on the men of the Army of Tennessee and the 458th. On this sunny spring day, fourteen men were executed for desertion, eight of these men were from the 58th North Carolina. One of the men Jacob Austin of Union County, North Carolina was a conscript assigned to Company E. He was forced into the 58th on Christmas Eve 1863 and deserted 28 days later. He was captured, court-martialed and sentenced to death.

Many soldiers did not feel these sentences were fair, states Weaver, because many others were pardoned for similar offences, but some officers felt that a show of this kind was necessary to stem the tide of unauthorized absences. Other soldiers were sentenced to extra duty, some humiliation, or loss of pay. These executions had the desired effect, at least in the 58th North Carolina ― Desertion virtually ended in the regiment. Of course, by May 1864, most of those who remained were hardcore supporters of the Southern Cause of those with an over developed sense of duty.

Weaver records that, in fairness to those who had been pardoned or received light sentences, the eight men of the 58th who were executed, were reported to be strong Union men and had engaged in partisan warfare against the Confederate Government when they were not in ranks. Those pardoned, or who received light sentences, were considered men who would return to duty, but just needed some time at home. Perception was everything at the court-martials held in the Brigade. Perception must have been blind when judgment was passed on Jobe Ross Redmon of the 60th North Carolina. The following letter written to his wife, Martha Teague, tells the complete story.

My Dear Wife and Children,

I seat myself this morning with a troubled heart and a distressed mind to try to write a few lines to let you know that I heard my sentence read yesterday, and it was very bad. I am sorry to let you know, I have to be shot the 9th of this month. I am sorry to inform you I have but nine days to live, but I hope and trust in God when they have slain my body that God will take my soul to rest where I will meet my little baby that has gone before me. My dear wife, I think I could die better satisfied if I could see you and the children one more time on earth and talk with you but my time is so short that I don’t expect to see you and my dear little children any more on earth. I can inform you that I received two letters from you yesterday which I read with pleasure and it gives me some satisfaction to hear that you are all well and doing well. I received the clothes that you sent to me by S. T. Smith. I expect that they will be my burying clothes. My dear wife, I want you to come to see me if you can get Abner Brooks to come with you. If you can, my days may be prolonged…  

…My dear wife, if I see you no more on earth, don’t grieve for me, neither lament nor mourn. I hope I shall be with my Jesus while you are left alone. I pray that God will be with you and help you raise the children up in knowledge of the truth and the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ….  

…My Dear Wife, the time has been sweet I have spent with you, but now I must depart from you and never more return, but let this not grieve your heart. I pray that the Lord will be with you and help you out in all your troubles and trials below ― so farewell dear wife.[6] 

J. R. Redmon, Condemned to die!


The story goes; Jobe Ross Redmon left his battle station without authorization and went home to McDowell County, North Carolina to check on his sick wife, Melinda Teague. He thought he would not be discovered and meant to return quickly. He was executed but was exonerated by the Federal Government in 1992. I know his family really appreciated the government’s consideration 142 years too late.



I’m sure the lull in fighting gave both armies an opportunity to re-supply their troops and also to allow ample time for their troops to mend from the camp ridden diseases that were prevalent in the Army camps. The following letter by Garret is the first letter we have available since the November 8, 1863 letter. This particular letter, written April 28, 1864 alludes to camp life and also tells us how healthy the men of the 58th North Carolina were in April of 1864.  


Camps near Dalton, Ga.
April 28, 1864

Dear Companion and Friends:

I again write you a few lines to inform you that I am well and hearty at this time and I hope these few lines may find you all well.

I have but little or no news of interest to write at this time. Everything is very quiet along our lines at this date―no fighting going on in this country at this time. Still we are expecting to fight here soon if the Yankees will fight.

We are also drawing very plentiful rations of bread and rather slim meat rations but we can do very well if it gets no worse.  All the boys are well and hearty. We have no sickness at all here now.

I want you to write to me as soon as you can and give me all the news of that country, whether you have lost any of your stock or not and how you are getting along with your work and so forth for I have been hearing bad news from there since I got back and I would like to hear very well.

Tell Anderson to be a good boy, be good to John Richmond and I will send him a pretty the first chance. Also give Sarah Howell my best respects and tell her to write to me. Also old Billy’s folks and Hector and Patty (McNeil) and your mother’s people and all inquiring friends.

Dear wife, I am as heavy as I ever was. So I will close. Farewell at present. Your obedient husband.

Garrett D. Gouge[7]


When Garrett refers to all the boys, he is referring to all the boys from near and around Bandana, Deyton’s Bend and other locales in Mitchell County, North Carolina who are serving with the 58th. The bad news Garret alludes to was all the bush whacking and killing going on by deserters from both armies who lived a marauders life in the mountains in Mitchell County. Garrett refers to getting back, perhaps he has been home on furlough and this explains the gap in the letter writing. 


        Before we begin General Sherman’s march to the Atlantic let me close the December article by wishing each and every extended Silver Family member a very Merry and Happy Christmas. May each of you find that special peace that passes all understanding this Christmas.


Cousin 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] Garret Dawes Gouge. Letter to wife, Rosanna. November 8, 1863

[2] Blevins, Poindexter, Company L, 58th North Carolina, letters, courtesy of the Ashe County, North Carolina Library. 

[3] Frank Moore. Compilation.  Rebellion Record. New York, 1862-68.

[4] Blevins letter.

[5] Jeffery Craig Weaver. 58th North Carolina Infantry, Company K  1995, 1997. Arlington, Virginia.

[6] Letter. Copy in Author’s possession.

[7] Letter by Garrett Dawes Gouge. April 28, 1864.