JUNE 2006


Written and Published Online by John Silver

w/contributing articles by various Silver cousins



Hello Cousins and Friends,


Spring has given away to summer finally and am I ever glad.  As I’ve said before, this old southern boy needs his sunshine.  I hope that you can agree that it a distinct pleasure to be free of the rain and snow for a while.  But, with warm weather comes the aching backs, bruised fingers, muddy shoes and all the rest that goes with a flowerbed.  I can live with that!

In the last two issues we ran the articles about Aunt Belle, daughter of John and Mary Virginia Hicks Silver.  In this issue we will look a little further and look into the lives of John’s and Mary’s family.  Their family of eleven sons and four daughters remained close during the years and corresponded frequently. It was a happy family and has roots in both North Carolina and Tennessee.

This article is by Mary Margaret Silver, a grandaughter. John Silver Harris included it in his book, “Silver; Our Pioneer Ancestors.” For our older readers, this article will bring back memories.  For our younger readers, I am sure they will surely find it interesting.

Cousin John



John Silver


John (no middle name) Silver represents the fifth generation of our Silver generations in America.

John was born January 1st, 1844 in Mitchell County, North Carolina, the fifth child of Alfred Leonard and Elizabeth Gouge Silver.

At a very early age, John moved to Curtis Creek in McDowell County, North Carolina, with his father and the rest of the family.  The reason for the move was so that his father Alfred could manage his land grant in McDowell County, North Carolina.

John and four of his brothers, Levi DeWeese, Lewis Perry, Tilman Blalock and Alexander served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

From “North Carolina Troops, 1861 – 1865,” Volume 8, Page 304, we find information on the war service of John and Lewis.

John and Lewis enlisted in the Confederate Army on July 12, 1861, just three months after the conflict started when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861.

The other three brothers of John and Lewis served in Company K, 58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment while John and Lewis served in Company I, 29th North Carolina Infantry Regiment.

When they enlisted, John was 17 and Lewis was 22.  Actually, John fibbed about his age to enlist.  The Confederate Army was not enlisting or drafting 17 year-olds at this time.  This bit of information was disclosed by John’s daughter, Mary Belle Silver.

Federal troops captured Lewis in Kentucky the fall of 1862. The 29th had been assigned to guard or picket duty in the Cumberland Gap.  John was imprisoned at Chattanooga, Tennessee until he was exchanged in a Federal-Confederate prisoner exchange on January 11, 1863. 

Lewis returned to the 29th and he and John were involved in several skirmishes and pitched battles until they were both captured in the retreat from Atlanta.

Lewis had been severely wounded in the battle and John went looking for him.  He was finally found hiding in the river and bleeding badly.  John reasoned that they should surrender to the Federals so that Lewis’ wound could be treated.  He was in no condition to run. They surrendered to the Federal Troops under the command of General William T. Sherman.

As prisoners, they were sent to Nashville, Tennessee and then to Louisville, Kentucky,  both staging areas for Confederate Prisoners of War.  They were subsequently transferred to Camp Chase Confederate Prisoner of War Prison at Columbus, Ohio.  They arrived at Camp Chase on August 2nd, 1864.  Camp Chase was recognized as the worst of the Federal Prisoner of War Prisons.

Three months after being imprisoned at Camp Chase, Lewis, still recovering from his wound, died of typhoid fever on November 9th, 1864.

John remained a prisoner there until he was transferred to City Point (now Hopewell) Virginia where he was exchanged in a Confederate – Federal prisoner exchange in early March, 1865, just one month before the Civil War’s end on April 9, 1865.

John filed for a soldier’s pension on August 6th, 1927.  The application states: “No wounds but served the entire war and is now 83 years of age.”

After the war, on April 12th, 1869 he married Mary Virginia Hicks, b. June 1st, 1852.  She was a daughter of James Madison and Sarah “Sally” Greene Hicks of Mitchell Co., North Carolina.

John became a farmer and sawmill operator.  He and Virginia had 15 children, 11 of them boys.  His sons made up a full sawmill crew that enabled the family to operate their sawmill without having to hire additional employees.

He taught his sons to be sawyers — the most skilled and highest paid position with a sawmill.

Sawmills at that time were operated by steam engines using wood as fuel.  Horses and oxen were used for logging and transporting the lumber.

The family moved often to the site of the next timber cutting so they lived at Kona, Old Fort and Hendersonville areas over the years and finally settling at Jefferson City, Jefferson County, Tennessee.

Sometime in the 1870s John and his family were living at Garden City, now Pleasant Garden, McDowell County, North Carolina.  About 1878, they moved by wagon to Curtis Creek, near Old Fort in McDowell County, North Carolina.  Jake, who was four at the time, made the journey in a wash pot atop the wagon.

After a few years, a two-story house was built. John’s uncle, Samuel Marion Silver (Col. Sam) and another man named Philip Glen did most of the carpentry work, with John himself building the chimneys.  This house, still standing and still occupied, cost about one hundred dollars to build.

In September 1905, a farm was purchased on the French Broad River in Henderson County, NC.  After the river flooded and destroyed his crops several times, John began to look further.

He heard of a Mister Lowe in Tennessee that there was a farm for sale near Jefferson City.  This farm, with an unfinished house was purchased and after chimneys were built and other finishing touches to the house, John left his youngest son, Leon and a grandson, James E. at this new place while he went back to Henderson County and moved the family and all their possessions.

They came by train with household goods transported by boxcar.  Two new neighbors, W.A. Hudson and R.P. Hinchey, took their wagons and helped haul the possessions the three miles from the railway depot at Jefferson City.

A married son, John Young Silver, with his wife, Eliza, and children Marvin and Edna, moved to Tennessee at the same time and soon built a new house on one end of the farm.  Two other children, Carl and Bonny were born here.  Carl died in infancy.

The family became active in the Flat Gap Baptist Church.  John Young became a Deacon, serving until his death in 1970 at the age of 94.

A single son, Listenbury, came to Tennessee a few years later.  He stayed with his parents for a while and met and married Myrtle Hinchey in 1919.

They went back to North Carolina, living first in Henderson County, then at Old Fort in McDowell County.  He worked for Noyes Lumber Company cutting acid wood for tanning leather.

In December, 1924, Listenbury, Myrtle and a small daughter, Mary Margaret left North Carolina to come to Tennessee and live with his parents.  They later had a son named, Leonard King Silver.

Mary Virginia Hicks Silver died August 7th, 1931 at the age of 79.  John Silver died three years later on July 5th, 1934 at age 90.

John Young and Listenbury then bought the farm from the other heirs and lived out their life there.

All are buried in Flat Gap Baptist Church Cemetery, Jefferson Co., Tennessee.



John and Mary’s Children


(1) Wellington Ceymore Silver, b. 1 December 1869. m. (1) Lorena McFee (McAfee) on 26 February 1890.  (2) Morena Josephine “Josie” Calloway on 25 December 1895; d. 27 January 1956; buried in Old Fort Cemetery, Old Fort, McDowell Co., North Carolina.  “Josie” was a daughter of Nancy Calloway b. 1 March 1878. d. 6  January 1960; b. Old Fort Cemetery, McDowell Co., North Carolina.

Wellington and Lorena McFee had a son named William Edgar, b. 13 December 1890. m. Dorothy “Dorsey” Wilson. D. 29 September 1959. b. Old Fort, McDowell Co., North Carolina.

Wellington and his second wife, Morena Josephine Calloway, had 10 children; eight sons and two daughters.

(2) James Martin Silver, b. 7 March 1871. m. Lura Ida Mosely on 27 September 1902. d. 23 August 1964. b. Sunrise Cemetery, Pickens, South Carolina.  Lura was a daughter of James Overton and Naomi Madden Moseley. James and Lura had 5 children, 2 sons and 3 daughters.

(3) Stokes Penland Silver, b. 28 August 1872. m. Rhoda Carroway on 26 February 1896. Stokes d. 2 February 1902 and is b. in Silver Cemetery, Curtis Creek, McDowell Co., NC. Rhoda d. 15 February 1905.  b. Silver Cemetery, Curtis Creek, McDowell Co., NC.  Stokes and Rhoda had three children; two sons and one daughter.

(4) Jacob Alfred Silver, b. 8 April 1874. m. Lydia Ersula Bradley on 1 January 1894; d. 4 June 1956. b. Ebenezer Cemetery, Old Fort, McDowell Co., NC.  Lydia was a daughter of Michael M. and Ellender Kelly Bradley. She d. on 22 September 1956. b. Ebenezer Cemetery, Old Fort, McDowell Co., NC. Jacob and Lydia had three daughters.

(5) John Young “Johnny” Silver b. 5 May 1876.  m. Eliza Jane Haney on 2 August 1903. d. 7 August 1970. Eliza was a daughter of John and Emmaline Woody Haney. She and John are buried in the Flat Gap Baptist Church Cemetery, Jefferson City, TN. John and Eliza had 2 sons and 2 daughters.

(6) David Alonzo “Lonny” Silver  b. 1 May 1878. m. Rosa Zena Norman on 16 August 1908.  d. 16 February 1953. Burial: Forest Hill Cemetery, Morganton, Burke Co., NC. Rosa was a daughter of John and Barbara Chapman Norman. Rosa was b. 2 December 1890. d. 6 July 1966.  She is b. in Forest Hill Cemetery, Morganton, Burke Co., NC. Lonny and Rosa had four sons and two daughters.

(7) Doctor “Dock” Silver b. 12 April 1980.  m. Lela Vista Buchanan on 17 January 1903. d. 30 April 1906 in Curtis Creek.  Burial: Silver Cemetery, Curtis Creek, McDowell Co., NC.

Lela was a daughter of Tom and Louise Buchanan. She d. 22 February 1978. Burial: Cane Creek Cemetery, Yancey Co., North Carolina. Dock and Lela had one daughter and one son.

(8) Robert Filmore Silver  b. 19 December 1881. d. 11 December 1882. Burial: Old Siloam Cemetery, Old Fort, McDowell Co., NC

(9) Maggie Vic Dora Silver b. 28 June 1883. m. George Michael Bradley on 15 November 1905. She d. 4 December 1980.  George was a son of Michael M. and Elender Kelly Bradley. He was b. 6 March 1883. d. 7 February 1956. Both are buried in Shepherd Memorial Park, Hendersonville, Henderson Co., NC. Maggie and George had six children: one son and five daughters.

(10) Millard Alexander Silver b. 15 October 1885; d. 19 September 1904. Burial: Silver Cemetery, Kona, Mitchell Co., NC.

(11) Sarah Rosanna “Rosie” Silver b. 5 September 1887. m. William A. “Bill” Schauer on 4 October 1911. d. 4 March 1979. Bill was a son of Ulysses Grant and Sarah Elizabeth Cox Schauer. b. 18 January 1890.  d. 3 November 1959.  They are buried in Bremerton, WA.

(12) Albert Listenbury Silver b. 6 June 1889 on Curtis Creek, McDowell Co., NC. m. Myrtle Mamie Hinchey on 7 September 1919 in Jefferson City, Tennessee. d. 7 June 1969.

Myrtle was b. 2 November 1898. d. 22 February 1984. They are buried in Flat Gap Baptist Church Cemetery, Jefferson City, TN. Albert and Myrtle had one daughter and one son.

(13) Mary Belle “Aunt Belle” Silver  b. 18 February 1891. d. 20 May 1981. m. (1) John C. Rogers  (2) John H. Cabe  (3) Virgil “Virge” Ray. Mary Belle and John adopted three children; two daughters and one son. Daphne, Lillie and John.

(14) Dovie Edith Silver b. 3 March 1893. d. 14 November 1893. Burial: Old Siloam Cemetery, Old Fort, McDowell Co., NC.

(15) Horace Leon Silver b. 15 September 1894. d. 31 December 1981 at VA Hospital, Buncombe Co., NC. Burial: Ebenezer Methodist Church Cemetery, Old Fort, McDowell Co., NC. Horace served in the U.S. Army (AEF) in World War I.  He saw action in France and Germany and was awarded The Silver Star for Bravery.



I am apologizing to Cousin Karyl Hubbard for my forgetfulness or something.  I failed to get these obituaries into the newsletter earlier.  She has forgiven me, thank goodness!


Hi Cousins,

As usual, I really enjoyed the family letter.  But, unusually, I have a small gripe. I notified one or more of you of the death of my cousin, Curtis Bruce Silver in February and the unexpected (though she was 89) death of Dorothy Sidener Snelling Wilson in March and haven’t seen them published.

Curtis Bruce Silver was born 16 February 1919 to William “Bill” Henry and Margie Wilson Silver in Acme, Dickinson Co., Kansas and died 1 February 2006 at the age of 86, in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, San Juan Co., Washington, leaving his wife of 64 years, Arlene Baer Silver, two children, Bruce Silver of Depoe Bay, Oregon and Barbara Silver Zimmerman of Friday Harbor, Washington and two grandchildren. 

He was born in Kansas, saw California and never looked back. He was a veteran of World War II serving in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific. He and his son-in-law made large-scale model trains from scratch, and just before he became ill, he was doing a lot of complaining because a “donkey engine” would not run just right.  They were building a complete railway system on their acreage on the island.  He was also an expert wood carver and a number of relatives enjoy the fruits of his carving.  He will be missed.

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > George III Silver > Rev. Edward Silver > Isaac Silver > William Silver > Curtis Bruce Silver)


Dorothy Nell Sidener Snelling Wilson was born 19 January 1917 in Wonsevu, Chase Co., Kansas and died 9 March 2006 in Potwin, Burns Co., Kansas.  She is survived by two sons, 6 grandchildren and I’m not sure how many great-grands! I’d only met her a few years ago but enjoyed her company and the stories she could tell.  Some of which you’ll probably get from me when I circle back to the Silver tribe for stories. She was the last of Emma Silver Sidener’s eleven kids.

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > George III Silver > Rev. Edward Silver > Isaac Silver > Emma Silver > Dorothy Nell Sidener Snelling Wilson)


Have fun reunion planning.  You’re on my list for next year.




Dear Cousin John,

A small footnote to Aunt Belle’s death.  Her passing at the Bell Arbor Nursing Home.  She was among family, even though she was not aware of it at the time.  By a strange coincidence, a 2nd cousin of mine, Laura Buttram, had started her nursing career there six months earlier and did not realize Aunt Belle was a Silver, as her mother was (Glenda Silver).  Laura said the staff was greatly saddened by Aunt Belle’s passing, because she was greatly loved by them all with her outgoing personality and her outlook on life.

William D. Silver


(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > William Griffith Silver > William Riley Silver > William Vance Silver > William Lucas Silver > William D.Silver)



Mitchell County Silver Family Reunion News

by Rex Redmon


Greeting cousins,

Before I begin writing the conclusion of the War of Northern Aggression against the 58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment of Mitchell County, I want to update everyone with news about the 200th Anniversary Silver Family Reunion  (previously the KONA Silver Family Reunion) to be held in Mitchell County, North Carolina, the fourth Weekend in July. 

We have changed the name of the reunion this year because we are celebrating the 200th year anniversary of Silver Family existence in the Mountains of Western North Carolina.  According to family genealogy researchers and family historians, George Silver Jr. and his family arrived in the area of Crabtree, near Spruce Pine, North Carolina, on Christmas Eve in 1806. 

The location of this year’s reunion has changed as well.  The annual event, formerly held in the family museum at the Old KONA Missionary Baptist Church, will be held this year at The Bandana Community Center, located only two winding mountain miles further up Highway 80 at Bandana, and across the street from Silver Chapel Baptist Church and cemetery.   

Several factors were involved as the reunion planners considered moving the location of the event.  Actually, discussions have been in the works for two years about changing the location due to the environment inside the former church which is now used as our Silver Family Museum.  Everyone involved with the decision to move the event agreed we would miss the nostalgia of meeting in the former church where familiar surroundings were indeed both inviting and wistful.  Yet, consideration for the health of family members prevailed, especially those with respiratory issues, and the decision to change locations this year on a trial basis received favorable approval. 

The Family museum will be open both Saturday and Sunday for those who wish to visit the museum.  However, all other activities will be held at the Bandana Community Center both Saturday and Sunday.  The only materials that will be removed from the museum will be the 60 some odd history books which contain the names and history of over 44,000 Silver Family relatives and their extended families.  John Silver and Clarence Tillery, our Silver Family Historians, will be available both Saturday and Sunday at the Community Center for the benefit of family historians who wish to discuss and research family trees.

Our distinguished guest for Saturday’s program this year is the celebrated Dr. Lloyd Bailey, editor and publisher of the five Toe River Valley Heritage Books.  Our honored guest for Sunday’s program will be, Author Maxine McCall, who will perform a rendition of the fate of Frankie Silver. 

Cousins, these are two very exciting guests and I know you do not want to miss hearing their presentations.  Mark your calendars now to attend all day, both Saturday and Sunday, and become part of this historical family event.  Complete plans for this year’s event will be outlined in the July issue of Silver Threads. You may direct your questions about the reunion to me at [email protected] or call me at (864) 284-6360.  Now, On With The War Of Northern Aggression!



Last month I published the last letter written by one of our extended family members who was serving with the 58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment of Mitchell County, North Carolina.  When I began the project of publishing the Civil War Letters written by the Gouge and Silver Family men who served with the 58th North Carolina, there were over fifty-letters and related information available for me to publish. I began the project in January of 2004, and now, two and one-half years later, I bring the project to a close.  I want to thank John Silver Harris and Sarah Gouge McKee, who transcribed the letters and saved them on a disc, for allowing me to publish the letters.  Following is a letter John Silver Harris wrote and which is also part of the disc from where I gleaned the letters.  John is writing about the history of the letters.


Sarah Gouge, now Sarah Gouge McKee, was among my close circle of friends when we were students at Berea College in Kentucky.

In recent correspondence, Sarah, now living in Kingsport, Tenn., mentioned that she had a batch of letters written by the Gouges and Silvers during the Civil War. I have kinship ties with both families.

One of the letters Sarah mentioned in particular piqued my interest. It was from John Silver to a Martha Gouge. Sarah asked if I knew who John Silver might be. Indeed I did. He was my great grandfather, for whom I was named.

I volunteered to transcribe the letters – about 50 in all. Here were priceless, first-hand accounts of the hopes, fears and longings of our relatives in the war as well as eye-witness accounts of battles. Through their letters, we are privileged to take in the view through a window of life that will never again reopen. They were well worth preserving and putting into a form that could be made more widely available.

Transcribing the letters was a slow task at first. Some parts of them were unreadable.  The spelling was largely phonetic. So it took some sounding out and sometimes some educated guessing.

Then, Sarah discovered that her son, Ed, had earlier transcribed the letters. He had done it painstakingly, by hand, and as literally as possible. This proved a boon in getting the letters into the computer. He had done the greatest part of the work. We owe Ed a debt of gratitude for having done this.

These letters have been lightly edited for clarity. The purpose of their writing was to convey messages to loved ones back home. And so that their messages can be clearly conveyed to today’s readers, I put my computer’s spell checker to work and cleaned up the grammar – at least to the point that the reader can concentrate on the message without having to untangle verbiage along the way.

We are indebted to Sarah’s late mother, Lola D. Gouge, for saving these letters. “When the family home was being cleaned out before being sold, these letters were put into the pile to be burned,” Sarah recalls. “My mother salvaged them.”


                        --John Silver Harris, May 2000


When I began to publish the Civil War letters to folks back home in the newsletter I was unaware who Garrett Gouge was.  I was soon to learn Garrett’s sister, Elizabeth Gouge Silver, was my wife Margaret’s great, great, grandmother who married Alfred Silver, son of Jacob Silver.  Once we learned of the family connection, these letters became more meaningful and we also give our thanks to John, Sarah and Ed for preserving this part of our family heritage. (This is now my conclusion of the Civil War and I will end it as I see fit.)

The once powerful and proud Confederate Army of Tennessee was reduced in number to only 17,000 weary but proud souls by February of 1865 when they were transferred by train from Tennessee to the sand hills of South Carolina near Orangeburg.  While in Orangeburg, after skirmishing with Sherman’s ragtag band of 60,000 Yankee Soldiers, the Confederate Army of Tennessee regrouped and marched northward to join forces with General Joseph Johnston’s Army bivouacked in Bentonville, North Carolina.  Instead of 17,000 Confederates facing the onslaught of Sherman’s rapists, looters, home burners and thieves, Sherman would face 25,000 of North Carolina’s finest seasoned veterans.

By the time General Sherman’s forces entered North Carolina after crossing the Pee Dee River between Hamlet and Wadesboro, Sherman had been cut off from his supply bases in Tennessee.  As a result, Sherman and his despicable forces lived off the land in which they passed while marching to the sea in Savannah, Georgia. Their plundering continued in South Carolina as they laid waste to Southern Plantations as Sherman marched his tired and hungry forces toward a rendezvous with Johnson’s forces in Bentonville.  

Morale and discipline was almost non-existent in Sherman’s army as they pushed their way north in what Sherman hoped would be a link-up with Grant’s Union forces in Virginia.  However, Sherman faced another unforeseen deadly enemy from within his own command.  Hunger and clothing were the chief factors that contributed to the beginning of desertions within the ranks of his Army.  On March 11, 1865, after reaching Red Springs, North Carolina, on March 8; (Red Springs is located five miles east of Laurinburg, North Carolina) only elements of Sherman’s mighty 60,000 man army reached Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Some 30,000 of his forces had either deserted and were trying to slip by Confederate forces to find their way home in the north, or they were laid up in deserted houses and barns throughout Sherman’s path of destruction in South Carolina.

Sherman hoped to capture the former Federal Arsenal at Fayetteville that had provided the Confederate Army with thousands of rifles and other ordnances of destruction, however, the majority of the arsenal had been moved to the cold mining town of Egypt.  Disappointed to discover the arsenal was not in tact, Sherman pushed in the direction of Goldsboro where General Joe Johnson had his rested and re-supplied 25,000 man army waiting for him. 

The largest battle ever fought on Tar Heel soil took place during March 19-21, 1865, between Johnson and Sherman’s forces.  The 6,000 acre Bentonville Battlefield in Johnston County is now a state historic site dedicated to the memory of those Confederate soldiers who fought and died there in defense of the Southern States rights to govern themselves.

Exactly four years to the day, after Charleston’s Fort Sumner surrendered to the Confederacy, Sherman had retreated to Smithfield, North Carolina after Johnson’s troops annihilated the remainder of his forces. At Smithfield Sherman and his defeated troops received the horrifying news on April 12, 1865, that Union Army General Ulysses S. Grant, after suffering heavy losses at Appomattox, Virginia, had surrendered to Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee. The War of Northern Aggression was finally over.

Upon hearing the news of Grant’s surrender and that Lee’s army was marching on Washington, DC, President Lincoln and his cabinet fled to New York where they contacted Canadian officials seeking amnesty. As a result, Lincoln avoided assassination on April 14 and Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, moved into the White House.  

Concessions were made by President Davis to keep the country united but with each state having the right to govern them selves.  The issue of slavery did not end however until the turn of the century. Those Southern planters whose slaves had not fled north after Sherman’s march to the sea were eventually given their freedom under an act known as the “Final Emancipation Act.” The Final Emancipation Act, enforced by the new “Corporate Army of the Greater United States,” guaranteed one-hundred acres of government land anywhere in the United States and two mules to every slave family who were freed when the act became law in 1900.  The act also became retroactive for those who were freed during the final days of the war. 

The majority of Government land was in the west on the Great Plains and during the following one-hundred years many former slaves became prosperous farmers and ranchers and eventually supplied the nation with wheat and beef.  The southern states, operating on an economy without slavery and poverty, eventually experienced a new industrial revolution when new industry replaced former cotton plantations.  A balance of trade between north and south and east and west in the new Union was particularly equal and once again, America retained its rightful place in the Hemisphere as a World Power where equality and opportunity stood as the backbone of the new nation.  (Well, the war could have happened that way.)

Cousins, next month, along with my 200th Anniversary Silver Family Reunion report, I’m going to begin a two part series about, “Who’s Who in the Civil War Letters to Folks back home.  I will properly identify the majority of those mentioned in the letters and how each is connected to the Silver Family.  The information was compiled by cousin John Silver Harris and again, I have his permission to reprint the material.

Peace to Everyone, 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]