March 2006


Written and Published Online by John Silver

w/contributing articles by various Silver cousins



Dear Cousins and Friends,


Here it is, March, and springtime is just around the corner.  However, it seems to have come in like a lamb and will probably be leaving as a lion.  But, seasons come and go. We can only hope for the best.

This month’s issue contains a rerun of some of our older history but since I have had so many requests for information along this line, I’ll ask our older readers to bear with us so that our newest readers can review and add to their store of family history.

Rex has new material and will be adding that into his previous records of our Civil War veterans and the history of the 58th North Carolina Regiment.

Barney will be twiddling his thumbs awaiting my material so as to enable him to keep up a tight schedule in getting ‘Threads on line. We seldom give Barney credit for the excellent work he does in creating and maintaining our website and newsletter but he is the backbone of our operation.  So, thank you Barney for your patience and perseverance!

Cousin John



History of the Silver Family in America

Georg Wendel Silber (George Silver Sr.)



Georg Wendel Silber (George Silver Sr.) was born in Denkendorf, a small town in Neckarkreis, Wuerttemburg, Germany on June 27, 1731.  He was a son of Hanss Wendel and Anna Maria Lebansff Silber.  George was a descendant of well-known metal workers and tradesmen. The Silber men were considered masters of the art of wrought iron designing and blacksmithing.

Checking an atlas, we find the area of Wuerttemburg that includes the Neckar River Valley, the location of Denkendorf, Neckarkreis, to lie some 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) south of Stuttgart, Germany.  This is the southwest corner of Germany, bordered south by Switzerland and west by France.

It is not known exactly why young Wendel decided to journey to the English Colony in America.  He had probably heard of William Penn’s earlier visit to Europe asking the German farmers and tradesmen to immigrate to Pennsylvania.  Penn had promised free land and relief from famine and strife.  Most of the young men had been drained by the constant wars in Europe.  It could have been the lack of work or being able to care for oneself.  Perhaps it was religion.  The Lutherans had been persecuted for a century or more.  It seems that George’s decision to emigrate to America presents us with an enigma for all times.

At any rate, George made his way down the Rhine River to the Dutch port of Rotterdam.  Here he boarded a British ship, the “Speedwell,” a sister ship to the older “Mayflower.” Apparently, George had the funds to pay his passage and was not indentured as were the majority of the passengers. A representative of the Silber Museum in Denkendorf stated that George was from a well to do family and could well afford to pay his passage.

From Rotterdam, the Speedwell’s next stop would be at the port of Cowes in what today is Scotland.  Cowes was the jumping off point for ships bound for the English Colonies in America and Canada.  This stop was to clear customs and be checked for admission to the Colonies.  At this point, Catholics were returned to Rotterdam.  England wanted only Protestants in her colonies.  Here, at Cowes, the ship would take on water in casks and victuals.  One meal would be served every other day.

The conditions at the port of Cowes and other examination points were nothing less than horrible.  There was a shortage of food and water.  Sanitary conditions did not exist.  The grounds were trampled and passengers waited in leaky tents (those that were fortunate to get a tent) for their ships.  A large number of deaths occurred here among the weaker or sickly passengers before they were able to begin their passage.

The conditions aboard the ships were not much better.  There was no privacy.  Families, young and old shared the small, cramped, crowded space in the holds.  A single toilet was shared by all.  The water provided for drinking was often tainted and next to undrinkable, the food moldy and wormy.  The water and food sometimes ran out and the passengers were reduced to starvation rations.  Some, who managed to catch rats, ate better than did the others. The ships were stocked for the number of days calculated to reach their ports in America and not one day more.  Many of the emigrants were buried at sea. It has been estimated that one of every nine passengers succumbed to some kind of disease during these voyages.

Some voyages were blown off course by hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles.  Some ships were off course so badly that they made landfall in Brazil.  One such ship actually had to land in India.  When the ships reached port, the Captain was in charge of collecting passage fare from the immigrants. Those that were able to pay were allowed to disembark. Those families and individuals who had indentured themselves were allowed to depart as soon as their sponsor had paid their fares.  Those who were not sponsored and could not pay their fares were auctioned off to the highest bidder.  These buyer’s indentures could last from four to ten years and in some cases much longer.  This amounted to slavery but was condoned by the British who looked on it with a blind eye.  Needless to say, some families were torn asunder. 

The main ports of entry in America were Philadelphia, Charleston and New Orleans.  In Canada, the main port was Newfoundland. If a ship was off course and had to land at Charleston, the passengers bound for Philadelphia or other ports, had to make their way there as best as they could.  As one can see, these were not pleasure cruises for our forebears.

All of the ships landing in Philadelphia, Charleston and New Orleans were filled with indentured families as well as young men and women.  All male immigrants over the age of sixteen were required to take an, “Oath of Allegiance,” to the Crown of Great Britain.

George’s arrival in Philadelphia on September 25, 1749, was announced in the Philadelphia papers as: “Foreigners from Wirtemberg, Alsace and Hanau, --- ship Speedwell, James Creagh, Captain, from Rotterdam, last of Cowes. --- 240 passengers.” As soon as George had paid his passage and had taken the oath, he moved westward a short distance to Berks County and later to Montgomery County.  Both these counties lie a short distance from Philadelphia proper.  Apparently, George had contacts and was able to settle in quickly.

On February 16, 1752, George married Elizabeth Margaretha “Sissy Market” Schmieden, a widow of Johann Heinrich Vogeding.  They were married in the Augustus Lutheran Church located in Trappe, New Providence Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  This Church is still standing and in excellent condition.  It is the oldest original Lutheran Church in America. Little is known about Elizabeth but her maiden name of, “Schmieden” is well acquainted with the area of Denkendorf and Neckar River Valley, the home of the Silber family.

In 1753, Elizabeth Margaretha gave birth to twins.  Their names were Elizabeth Margaret and Johann Jurg Silber.  We now refer to Johann as “George Silver Jr. Silver.” We have no date of birth for them but they were Christened on October 28, 1753 in the Augustus Lutheran Church in Trappe, Montgomery Co., Pennsylvania.  Elizabeth later gave birth to another child named, Jacob.  He was born in Rockland Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  Jacob was baptized at Christ (Mertz’s) Lutheran Church, Rockland Township, on August 25, 1765.  Jacob must have died at an early age since there is no other information on him.

George paid taxes on a horse and cow in 1764 in Rockland Township, Montgomery Co., Pennsylvania.  Apparently he had had some success at farming.

The Tax List of Berks County for the year of 1767 shows that George Silver paid taxes in Ruscomb Manor Township in Berks County, Pennsylvania for that year.

At some time in 1774 George patented land in Maryland.  This “plantation” was located in western Maryland in Frederick County.  It was described as being in the Littleworth Tract at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain just south of Fredericktown, now known as Frederick, Frederick County, Maryland.  The plantation contained 240 acres.

George and his family farmed this plantation until his death on October 21, 1785.  Elizabeth’s death date is unknown.  Their burial plots must have been on their plantation since there is no trace of them being buried in a church cemetery or in any established cemetery.



Augustus Lutheran Church, Trappe, Pennsylvania. 
1743 The Shrine of Lutheranism


This is the most renowned of all the Lutheran Churches in the United States.  It was the first church built by Henry Melchoir Muhlenburg, the first regularly called pastor and marks the beginning of the organization of Lutheranism in America.  It is of rural German architecture.  All the timbers are hewn and framed with tenons secured with dowels and without paint.  Nails, latches and hinges are hand forged from charcoal iron.  The floor of native stone is laid on the ground.

On January 5, 1743, the congregation decided to build a Church of stone 43 “shoes” long and 39 shoes wide.  With happy determination they began preparation.  The men donated labor and material, hauling stone and timber while the women and children split and shaved the shingles.  They worked rapidly. On May 2, 1743 the cornerstone was laid.  Muhlenberg preached in German and made an English address.

The name Augustus was then adopted in honor of Herman Augustus Franke, founder of the Halle Institutions, whose son persuaded Muhlenberg to accept the call of the three Congregations in America.  The total cost, including the digging of the well, chain pump, labor and material donated was 337 pounds, 9 shillings, 5 and ½ pence equal to $889.92 in today’s currency.

Of this amount the congregation raised 138 pounds, 15 shillings, 8 pence.  Dr. Ziegenhagen sent 115 pounds, 7 shillings, donation from Europe leaving a debt of 39 pounds, 12 shillings, 7 and ½ pence which was gradually satisfied.

 The first service was held in the unfinished interior on September 12, 1743.  The dedication was postponed until it would be complete and paid.  The stress of primitive conditions delayed this act until October 6, 1745, when it was consecrated with solemn ceremony in the presence of a large gathering.   At this time the Dedicatory Stone was placed in the wall over the main entrance bearing the following inscription in Latin.  “Under the auspices of Christ, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg with his council, I.N. Crosman, F. Marsteler, A. Heilman, I. Mueller, H. Haas and G. Kebner, erected from the very foundation this building dedicated by the Society of the Augsburg Confession. AD 1743.”

This is only known church building bearing an inscription that designates the Confession document of the Congregation instead of the name Lutheran by which it is popularly known.

It happily escaped the modernization craze and remains in its rugged simplicity, thereby retaining its superior distinction as the oldest unaltered Lutheran Church Building in the United States.

On February 16, 1752, Georg Wendel Silber and Elizabeth Margaretha Schmieden were married in this Church.  They were members of the congregation.  On October 28, 1753, Georg and Elizabeth presented their twins, Johann Jurg Silver and Elizabeth Margaret, for Baptism.  At a later date, Georg Wendel would become George Silver Sr. and Johann Jerg would become George Silver Jr.

In October, 1998, James “John” and Connie Silver visited the Church at Trappe, Pennsylvania.  We were able to stand at the very same altar where George Sr. and Elizabeth had been married 248 years earlier and where George Jr. and sister Elizabeth were Christened.

It is said that the families had brought heated rocks from home to keep their feet warm during the lengthy sermons. After the battle of Germantown, the church was turned into a temporary hospital.  George Washington rode his white steed up to the door to visit the wounded Continental soldiers.

These days the old church is used once a year for Easter Services.  At any other time arrangements must be made in advance to visit the interior of this lovely old church.  The interior of the church is especially impressive in that every piece of wood was hand carved including the pews, pulpit and all the woodwork on the balconies.  It is well maintained and appears to be in excellent condition which proves that the original builders were the masters of their trades.



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

& Civil War Letters to Folks Back Home

by Rex Redmon


Greetings Cousins,


Yankee General William Tecumseh Sherman is on his deadly march to Savannah and the Atlantic Ocean with his 100,000-man force after capturing and burning Atlanta, Georgia.  The North Carolina 58th Infantry Regiment and Company “K” of Mitchell County, North Carolina, are in retreat into Florence Alabama, with the remnants of the Army of Tennessee, which at the time comprised of the 58th North Carolina, the 60th North Carolina, the 3rd, 18th, 23rd, 26th and 45th Tennessee, and the 54th and 63rd Virginia.  The Confederates were pushed out of Atlanta and retreated westward into Florence, Alabama after crossing the Tennessee River.  The Confederates remained in Florence where they were held as an inactive force awaiting supplies until November 20, 1864.

Meantime, prior to November 20th, G.D. (Garrett) Gouge continues writing letters to his wife, Rosanna, who is back home in the high mountains of Mitchell County, North Carolina.  The date is August 25, 1864 and the siege for Atlanta by Union troops is just about over. Garrett Gouge writes the following letter…

Atlanta, Ga.
August 25, 1864


Mrs. Rosannah Gouge, dear companion:


I received your kind letter yesterday bearing date, Aug. the 10th, which found me well. I was glad to receive your letter for I had not got a letter from you in some time.  I was proud to learn you had your oats in the stack but I was sorry to hear you and little Anderson were at Work by yourselves.

You say in your letter that Henry Gouge is gone back home. I rather you had have him if he was any advantage to you but you say you could not get any answers from me to know what to do, whether to keep him or not.  I wrote a great many times and advised you to keep him if he was any advantage to you which I know he must have been a considerable help to you.  I expect there are a great many of my letters that never reach your hand ____ of the mail being so uncertain.

I have but little news of interest. We are still in our entrenchments around Atlanta and a lively skirmish and cannonading going on every day and night. There are more or less men killed and wounded every day.  We have had a hard time this summer but I hope the campaign will soon end.

I want you to write and let me know whether the boy’s funerals are preached yet or not.

Give William Silver my respects.  Tell him all the Silver boys are well.

I would like to know how your corn looks and how my _____ and other stacks look. I would like to see you the children and father and mother also.


G.D. Gouge, written by L.D. (Levi Deweese) Silver[1] 


(Henry Gouge was the teenage son of Joel and Susannah Gouge, a nephew of G.D. Gouge.  William Silver (1829-1898) was William Jacob Silver brother to Captain Samuel Silver and son of Rev. Jacob Silver.  Levi Deweese Silver (1836-????) is the oldest son of Alfred Silver and Elizabeth Gouge, Garrett’s sister and brother-in-law. Alfred is the oldest surviving son of Rev. Jacob Silver.) 

Garrett is referring to the memorial funerals of those men who were killed during the June and July battles for Atlanta that I referred to in the February issue of Silver Threads.

Also noted in paragraph two of his letter is a statement by Garrett that he has written many letters and apparently Rosanah has not received all his letters because of what he says is; the uncertainty of the mail. 

While looking online for activities of the 58th during August and September of 1864 I found the following article. The article briefly tells about a battle at a train station by the name of Love Joy.[2] The article stated:

While Confederate Maj. Joseph Wheeler was absent raiding Union Supply lines from North Georgia to East Tennessee, May. Gen. William Sherman, unconcerned, sent Judson Kilpatrick to raid Rebel Supply lines. Leaving on August 18, Kilpatrick hit the Atlanta & West Point Railroad that evening, tearing up a small area of track.  Next Kilpatrick headed for Lovejoy’s station on the Macon and Western Railroad, burning great amounts of supplies.  On the 20th, they reached Lovejoy’s station and began their destruction.  Rebel Infantry appeared and the raiders were forced to fight into the night, finally fleeing to prevent encirclement. Although Kilpatrick had destroyed supplies and track at Lovejoy’s Station, the railroad line was back in operation in two days. The Confederate forces won the day.


Garrett Dawes Gouge writes his next letter to Rosanah on September 12, 1864.  Date line: Love Joy station, Georgia.

Lovejoy Station, Ga.
Sept. 12, 1864


Mrs. Rosanah Gouge, dear companion:


I gladly embrace the present opportunity to drop you a few lines which leaves me well, also hoping that this note may find you and the children well and doing well.

I have nothing of interest to write you at present. All is quiet in front. We have been resting for several days. The roaring of cannons has ceased one time more. We have had hard times this spring and summer and a few day’s rest is now joyfully appreciated by our troops.

I understand that a dispatch under a flag of truce was received by General Hood from General Sherman, the Federal commander, asking for a cessation of hostility for the period of 10 days allowing the women and children to be moved from Atlanta.

I was proud to get a few days’ rest for we have lost a great many good soldiers (in) the past campaign. I am tired of the war and long to see its end. I would like to get home and find you all well to enjoy peace one time more.

I have not received a letter from you until I am out of heart of ever getting a letter again. The mail is uncertain although persons get letters every few days. Please write every chance. Give me all the news.

I have had a severe attack of gravel (kidney stones) lately but I now enjoy excellent health.

Give father, mother, Hector and Patty my love and respects. Also give your mother and family my respects. I will close. Yours only.


G. D. Gouge

The writer sends you all his respects. Written by L. D. Silver[3]


We can definitely conclude the boys from Mitchell County and Company “K” of the 58th North Carolina Infantry were involved in the skirmish at Love Joy station as Garrett’s letter is written from that location.

Perhaps the defense of Love Joy station was in effort in futility or an effort to cover their butts because the Confederate cause was over in the Atlanta area as Sherman burned Atlanta on September 2, 1864 according to Weaver.[4]

Weaver says, the fall of Atlanta was probably the most disastrous event of the war for the Confederacy. The battle killed the peace movement in the North and gave Lincoln’s reelection campaign the boost it needed.

The last battle for Atlanta occurred at Jonesboro, a suburb of Atlanta on the Macon Railroad line. Weaver states, The 58th North Carolina was involved in the fight for Jonesboro, yet, they had to fall back to Love Joy’s station.

Yankee General Absalom Baird reported a third of his soldiers who engaged in the battle for Jonesboro were killed or wounded because of the intensity and severity of the fight.  A total of 426 Confederate prisoners were captured during the battle, yet none were captured from the 58th   according to Weaver.[5]

Thus, the Army of Tennessee found itself at Love Joy station on September 12th, 1864 according to Garrett’s letter.  From Love Joy station the Army of The Tennessee moved southwest to the town of Palmetto on the Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama, rail line.  They then moved toward back toward the Chattahoochee River on September 27 and finally crossed the river on October 1, 1864.  

Garrett pens another letter to Rosanah on September 24 from a field near Palmetto Station.

Sept. 24, 1864
In the field near Palmetto Station


Companion, children and friends:


I am again permitted to drop you a few lines which leaves me well and hearty and I hope it may find you all well.  I have but little or no news that will interest you at this time. Everything is quiet here now although we have been building breastworks for several days and nights.

We have moved since I wrote to you before about 30 miles west from our old stand on the west side of the West Point Railroad and we are expecting to move on very soon towards Alabama. If we do, you may get uneasy if you get no letters for there will be no chance to write nor mail letters out there as we will be too far from the railroad and too ill convenient for anything of this kind.

Companion, I would like very well to come home when you wrote for me to come. But God only knows whether I can come or not. But be this as it may be, I want you to take the best care of yourself you can and also the children. I drew $66 the other day and I would send it to you but the mails are so uncertain I am afraid you never would get it. Therefore I will wait awhile to see if the mails won’t become regulated.


So God bless you. Farewell.

G. D. Gouge to Rosannah[6]


Cousins, I am going to conclude my portion of this month’s newsletter with Garrett’s letter from near Palmetto Station, Georgia to his wife, Rosannah.  Sadly, I only have two more copies of Garrett’s Dawes Gouge’s letters to his family back home.  When I publish my portion of Silver Threads in April, I will use those last two letters and bring to a close my tales of Company “K” of The 58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment from Mitchell County, North Carolina, the home place of our first Silver Family in North Carolina.  I will also bring to a close the exploits of the 58th as the end of the war approaches in April of 1865.  I hope you have enjoyed reading about the Mitchell County Civil War heroes as much as I have enjoyed writing about those heroes.

However, before I close, let me tell you about future articles I plan to publish in the news letter. Beginning in May, I plan to begin the story of the Tragedy on the Estatoe. The Tragedy on the Estatoe is my story of the Frankie Stewart and Charlie Silver legend that I published in 1994. So, stay tuned, as each month you will read word for word the exciting events about our ancestral cousins whose dramatic, but tragic death and hanging made our family famous in the annals of history.


Cousin Rex



            I don’t normally add much of anything to John and Rex’s writing in the monthly Silver Threads.  But after reading John’s “History of the Silver Family in America”, I felt obliged to add a little tidbit.

My earliest known ancestor, Nicolaas Silber, was born in the Palatinate, specifically Bochingen, Pfaltz, Germany around 1714.  Georg’s ship, the Speedwell, was also ferrying Protestants to Halifax, Nova Scotia in the early 1750s.  Nicolaas and his family came to Halifax on a sister ship, the “Pearl”, in 1752.  Nicolaas, his wife, and three children were lucky enough to be among the 212 survivors of the journey – out of 251 passengers – but his wife and younger son died almost immediately upon reaching the New World.  Although they were not officially indentured to the British for their passage, the Silbers were provided land in Lunenburg, NS and victuals in exchange for fighting against the Brit’s enemies, the French (and the Miq-Mac Indians). 

Hopefully, John and I will be able to tie our two lines together one day.

Cousin Barney



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

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





[1] Copy, G.D. Gouge Letter. Reprinted by permission.


[3] Copy-G.D. Gouge letter. Reprinted by permission.

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

[5] Ibid.

[6] Copy- G.D. Gouge letter. Reprinted by permission.