MAY 2006


Written and Published Online by John Silver

w/contributing articles by various Silver cousins



Dear Cousins and Friends,


I’m happy to report that spring has arrived in Delaware.  The trees, grass, flowers, and birds are as happy as I am.  But, I will have to say that we did have a very mild winter. Now it’s time to harness up the mules and start plowing the south ’40. It’s also time to take a dose of grandma’s spring tonic.

In this issue, Cousin Rex is winding down on his “Civil War letters to home.” It is very fitting in that the Civil War was ended 141 years ago in April. 

Our story of “Aunt Belle” will come to a close also.

Laura Cowan Cooper will explain to us about the genealogy project that she is involved with, using  DNA to tie current and ancestral Silver members together.

We usually have obituaries to print but we have not received any for several months now. We are hoping that this is a good omen.

Keep in mind also that this is a family newsletter and we welcome all newsworthy articles, awards, marriages, births and deaths.

Enjoy your Spring as I will mine.

Cousin John



Memories of Belle Silver Ray


As promised, here is the second half of Aunt Belle’s memories that didn’t fit in the April edition of Silver Threads.  Enjoy!

Cousin John


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, had an interest in a veneer mill at 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 in the fruit business.

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

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.

Brece Provost, a large grove owner and life-long friend, then offered us a 22-room house at Cocoa for $12.00 a month rent, and we took it.  We began cleaning and fixing 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 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 by the roadside.  One day, a busload of tourists stopped and we sold $388 of fruit that evening.

We sold fruit and shipped fruit.  We did well and we’d go to Florida every winter.

We were once offered the whole end of Merritt Island that’s now the Cape Canaveral missile launch 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 we’d do with it.  He said maybe we could clean it up and sell it.  I said we’d both be dead before we ever got it cleaned up.  So we didn’t take it.



The Prime Minister as a Guest


While in Florida during the winter, we shipped fruit everywhere.  We even shipped fruit to the Prime Minister.

John wrote a note and put it in with a box of fruit.  “Why don’t you have the fruit shipped to Detroit and then send a truck over for it and save all that demurrage (holding and inspecting) cost.”  John wrote.  The Prime Minister wrote back and said to do just that—send it to Detroit.

Then one day this big, fine car pulled up to our fruit stand.  It was the Prime Minister, his driver, his doctor and his nurse.

They wanted a place to stay.  We had this big old house with plenty of bedrooms.  But we explained that we were just camping in it.  They said, “That’s just what we want to do, too.” So they stayed with us from Thursday to Monday.

I’ll always remember what happened to his driver.  John had a fishing rod lying there and the driver picked it up and was looking at it.

“Here’s artificial bait, “Take this rod and go down to the ferry and you might catch a big one.”

Well, I reckon the man had never used a casting rod before.  He cast it out and it swung back around between his legs and caught him right in the britches.

You should have seen him trying to get it loose.  John burst out laughing saying, “that’s the biggest sucker I’ve ever seen caught on the wrong end of a hook.”

The nurse had to cut that pair of britches all to pieces trying to get that artificial bait out of the seat of his pants.

The Prime Minister wrote a piece about it and it went out in all the newspapers.

I still laugh about that every time I think about it.



This and That


When his mother (Elizabeth Gouge Silver) died in 1860, my father John went to live with grandfather, Jacob, in the old Silver house at Kona.  That was just before he joined the Confederate Army. 

Someone said my mother (Mary Virginia Hicks Silver) never wore ear bobs.  But she did — from the time she was 16 years old until 1907 when we were living at Horseshoe.  One day she was out picking beans and one of them fell out.  I remember she put it in her pocket but I don’t remember her ever wearing it again.

I saw the first automobile I had ever seen when we moved to Horseshoe in 1905.  Brother Lonny had come with us on the train from Old Fort.  Old man Vanderbilt, the one who built the Biltmore mansion, had it.  I remember all the horses would run into the woods when it’d come along.

 My grandfather, James Martin Hicks, moved to Missouri because Uncle Doc had asthma and they took him west to get it cured.  The Yankees captured my Grandfather Hicks, even though he wasn’t in the Confederate Army, and he spent three years in prison making shoes for Yankee soldiers.

Colonel Sam went west and homesteaded 10,000 acres.  He tried to get everyone to come out there.

Melissa Wilson, my father’s cousin didn’t marry until she was 27 years old but then she had six sets of twins, all girls, they went west.

Brother Lonny lived and saw milled at Saluda at one time.



Husband and Children


John Rogers and I never had any children born to us.  But never the less we raised nine.

We adopted three children, two daughters and a son.

John Leonard Rogers.  He married Faye McCall and they live in my old house on South Rugby Road at Horseshoe.  I lived in that house for 76 years.

Mary Daphine Staton Rogers.  She married Claude Williams.  They had six children: Johnny, Claudia, Ann, Jim, Carolyn and twins, Mike and Phillip.  Phillip died before he was a year old. Daphine was killed in a car accident near Miami on May 11, 1961.  Johnny is also deceased.

Lillie Staton Rogers, who was Daphine’s natural sister.  Lillie, now deceased, married Gus Rector.  They had two sons, Jim and Bill, both now deceased.  Lillie later married Al Humphrey.

There were six others we raised but didn’t adopt.  They lived with us until they grew up and then went out on their own.

There was Alice Monroe, but at my age, I can’t remember the others.

Gussie Rogers died from a heart attack, unmarried.

My second marriage was to John H. (Harvey) Cabe.  He died in May 21, 1956.

My third and last marriage was to James Virgil “Virge” Ray on December 10, 1966.  He died in 1970.  He had a stroke and died at a Brevard hospital.

I’ve had my share of troubles in life but the Lord has always blessed and took care of me.  I’ve outlived my three husbands, all my brothers and sisters and several of the children that we raised.

I celebrated my 100th birthday on February 18, 1991.  On the Saturday before, Jim and Norma Williams arranged a party for me at Church of the Wildwood, where I attend.  It was most enjoyable.  And I got a birthday card from President George Bush.

Now I’m ready to go home to the Lord.



Silver Surname DNA Project


The Silver DNA Project is one of 3085 surname projects currently being run at Family Tree DNA. We are currently using genealogy by genetics to confirm or disapprove connections that conventional research has established over the years. It is very simple and affordable.

There are two types of DNA tests presently available for genealogical testing: y-chromosome (y-DNA) test and the mitochondrial (mt-DNA) test. In theory, the y-DNA is passed down from father to son generation after generation with very little change. The mt-DNA is passed on with the women. A man carries his mother’s mt-DNA and then it traces back daughter to mother all the way back until you run out of known women – changing surname as you go back each generation of women.

The Silver Project is accepting both y-DNA and mt-DNA samples from the Silver Family. We are very interested in the family members that should be Silver, but the men took their mother’s name – now is the time to establish proof of the oral family history and paper trails.

For more information on the FamilyTreeDNA site, please visit

To directly join the Silver Surname Project, use this unwieldy link:

We have been given special rates for the Silver Surname Project.  For more information on the rates and anything else that you want to know about the project, please contact me:

Laura Cowan Cooper  <mailto:[email protected]>
(865) 932-7625



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

& Civil War Letters to Folks Back Home

by Rex Redmon



When I closed April’s issue of Silver Threads, the Army of Tennessee, consisting of the 58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Silver, and several other infantry regiments from North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee, had retreated into, or reinvaded, southeastern Tennessee where they engaged Yankee troops in skirmishes who were left behind by Sherman to occupy Tennessee.  Sam Silver led the 58th on an attack on the Mount Pleasant Pike, where the Army of Tennessee pushed a dozen Yankee regiments and six batteries of artillery out of the town of Columbia. 

When the skirmish was over on November 27th, 1864, the 58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment was ordered to guard 1,700 Yankee prisoners in Columbia, and also to garrison the town while General Hood, with his Tennessee Army, immediately left Columbia and headed toward Franklin and Nashville where he suffered two great disasters at the hands of Federal troops.

Jeffery Craig Weaver gives an account of the 58th during their occupation of Columbia in his book, 58th North Carolina Infantry, Company “K”.  He says, the regiment was reported to have an effective strength of 246 men, total present of 311, with an aggregate percent total of 338.  (That many troops are close to the size of a modern size infantry company.)  On December 14, 1864, Weaver says, the regiment was ordered to Corinth, Mississippi, with the prisoners. Here they were relieved of their guard, and on December 26, 1864, was ordered to Okalona, Mississippi, to drive off a  (Federal) Calvary raid which had cut the rail line there. The remainder of the Brigade was not so lucky, Weaver states. They traveled on with Hood to his great defeats. After Hood’s defeat, the 58th joined the now very small brigade which Palmer was then commanding when he arrived in Tupelo, Mississippi, with the remainder of Hood’s army.[1]

Palmer’s small Brigade missed the disastrous battle at Franklin, Tennessee, on November 30, 1864, Weaver states.  To their good fortune he says, Hood had them detached for other duty, guarding the ordnance train.  Hood’s carelessness resulted in the deaths of 7,000 Confederate dead.  Lt. Colonel James M. Ray of the 60th North Carolina wrote that after the encounter at Columbia, Tennessee, the Confederates delayed instead of pursuing the retreating Federals, giving them time to regroup and entrench in Franklin. The Confederates intended to push the Yankees into the Big Harpeth River.  Weaver says, Hood’s men advanced across an open plain to slaughter and carnage the Yankee troops and instead, Twelve Southern Generals were killed or wounded and thirteen regimental commanders were killed and thirty-two wounded.  Eight thousand Confederate soldiers perished during the deadly attacks.[2]

The retreat of Palmer’s Brigade began in Nashville and the retreat ended in the surrender of the 58th North Carolina and the remnants of the Army of the Tennessee in Greensboro, North Carolina five months later.[3]

Weaver says on the retreat from Nashville, the Army of Tennessee sang a little song for their beloved Texas General Hood.  The song was sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas.

And now I’m going southward

For my heart is full of woe,

I’m going back to Georgia

To find my “Uncle Joe”

You may talk about your Beauregard

And sing of General Lee

But the gallant Hood of Texas
Played Hell in Tennessee.


While compiling contemporary records of Hood’s 33 day march into Tennessee, we see his campaign started with 26,000 men at arms and 119 cannon. When the Brigade crossed the Tennessee River in retreat there were less than 18,000 men under arms and the Brigade had lost 59 cannon.  When the Brigade joined Palmer on January 20th, 1865, there were nearly 2,000 fewer men than had crossed the river a month previously.  The total strength of the once mighty Army of the Tennessee was only 16,913. (Author’s note: I lost two great, great Grandfathers who fought with the 60th North Carolina in Tennessee and Georgia during those campaigns). 

After Hood’s defeats he resigned his command on January 25th, 1865 and was replace by young Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, son of former president, Zackary Taylor. Total troop strength of Palmer’s Brigade in January of 1865 was broken down as follows:

60th North Carolina and 63rd Virginia,               379

3rd, 18th, 26th, 32nd & 45th Tennessee,               571

58th North Carolina,                                          334

54th Virginia                                                     235

Total                                                                1519

The 16,913 men of the Army of The Tennessee were soon to rendezvous at Bentonville, North Carolina, with General Johnston’s Army on February 21, 1865.  Their mission, intercept Sherman!

(My dear faithful readers, it is here, I will enter the last letter we have in our possession from Garrett Gouge to his wife Sarah Howell.  I’m sure there were many other letters written by Garrett and other Silver men who fought in the War of Northern Aggression.  However, they have not survived the pages of time so that we may have the opportunity to memorialize them within these pages of our family newsletter.)


Camp near Branchville, S.C.

Feb.8 1865


Mrs. Sarah Howell, Dear Sister:


After my respects to you, I take the opportunity of writing to you a short note which will inform you that I am well at this time. Ever hoping the same will come to hand and find you and family well and doing well.  


I have nothing strange or interesting to write you at this date, more than what I suppose you have heard by those who have come home. In the first place, I will say that I received the note sent me by L.D. (Levi) Silver and was happy to see a line from you and hear that you were all well.


We are still near Branchville, S.C., where Colonel (Samuel Marion) Silver left us and we are expecting a fight every day.  The Yankees are so near that we can hear their drums every morning. Some of them came in sight yesterday but went back without firing guns.


I can say to you that we have been seeing hard times this fall and winter, but we are very well pleased with getting so near home.  We think if we can’t come home, we can hear from you oftener. 


I have been in hopes that they would make peace sometime this spring. But we have just heard this morning (they) would not receive our commissioners at Washington unless they would come back to the Union and free the Negro in our county.  If this be so, I see no chance for the war to stop soon.


So I will have to close, hoping to hear from you soon.  Farwell.


G.D. Gouge to Sarah Howell[4]


(This particular letter by Garrett also appears in Weaver’s book whose pages are unnumbered. Also, Levi Silver, who normally pens Garrett’s letter for him, is home according to Garrett.)

The 58th North Carolina, along with the Army of Tennessee, was transported over land to South Carolina by rail and fought several skirmishes against Sherman’s troops near Orangeburg, South Carolina.  Unknown members of the 58th were both captured and killed in those battles.

The 58th made life difficult for Sherman’s troops in South Carolina. As the 58th advanced north in front of Sherman’s overwhelming troops they were at Columbia, South Carolina on February 14th.  Palmer’s Brigade had the honor of acting as rear guard for the Army of Tennessee and on February 16th, they found themselves on the south bank of the Congaree River.  Crossing the river on the wooden bridge, they burned the bridge behind them and on February 17th, the Army of Tennessee marched north toward Charlotte where they forded the shallow Catawba River on February 23rd.

Leaving Charlotte after a few days rest, the army then marched to Salisbury, North Carolina, where they remained until March 2, 1865.  From Salisbury, they were removed by train to Smithfield Station, (Selma) North Carolina, to join Johnson’s remaining forces.

Weaver writes the men of the 58th North Carolina were by now nearly naked―each soldier having only one blanket or less between them. Rations were also very scarce.  Yet, there were no complaints; because the men knew complaining would not do any good.  If they did complain, Weavers says, they did it with their hands and feet and deserted.

As the War of Northern Aggression draws to a close in the spring of 1865, I will close this month’s saga of the 58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment from Mitchell County, North Carolina.  I will bring the war to an end in the June issue of Silver Threads and I will also conclude with the fate of the 58th.  In addition, I will begin a series of editions about Who’s Who in the Civil War Letters which I have been publishing for the past two years with the permission of John Silver Springs.


KONA Reunion News

Again, I would like to remind everyone to mark your calendars now to attend the 200th Anniversary Celebration of our Silver Family’s residence in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  Our annual reunion will be held the fourth weekend in July on the 22nd & 23rd.  Honored Guest and keynote speaker on Saturday this year will be Dr. Lloyd Bailey, editor and publisher of the five Volumes of the Toe River Valley Heritage Books. I am sure everyone will want to meet and hear Dr. Bailey speak.  He will also be selling his heritage books so please come prepared to purchase one.

In addition, Authoress Maxine McCall will join us again this year on Sunday and will be our Keynote speaker after lunch on Sunday.  Lots of great door prizes will be given away this year, such as family history books, framed photos of the Family Coat of Arms and other great surprises.

Please contact me at [email protected] for more information about this exciting event.



One final Note; Maxine McCall wants me to assure everyone who prepaid for a copy of her new revised book, They Won’t Hang A Woman, to please be patient.  Because of a number of deaths in her family and publication issues beyond her control, she is not expecting the book to be published until the fall of this year. She sends her apologies.

Cousin Rex


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

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





[1] Weaver, Jeffery Craig.  58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, Company “K”.  Arlington, Virginia. 1995-1997. 

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Letter. Garrett (G.D.) Gouge. Used by permission.