JULY 2006


Written and Published Online by John Silver

w/contributing articles by various Silver cousins


  Happy Independence Day to all our cousins and friends!



We are really enjoying our warm weather here in Delaware.  Most of the outside work is done so I can sit back and admire what I have done! (or left undone) We’ve had a couple of severe storms but they delivered the much-needed rain.

This month I have passed on to you one of the best articles I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  It gives us a very in-depth look at one of our ancestors, Reverend Jacob Silver.  I’ve asked permission to pass it on to you and Reverend J. Howard Silver, the composer, very graciously gave his permission.  Thank you again, Reverend Silver.


Cousin John





Born February 22, 1791  --  Died April 23, 1887



Reverend Doctor J. Howard Silver



Last April I received a hand-written letter from Wayne Silver in which he invited me to lead a Memorial Service remembered and honoring one of our well-known ancestors, the Reverend Jacob Silver.

Later I talked to Wayne by telephone about the service today.  Even though Wayne was terminally and his voice weak, he talked of his desire to be at this service and he hoped that he would live long enough to be present this morning.  Unfortunately Wayne died June 6, but his kind and gracious influence is still felt by all who knew him and loved him.

Some of you did not know Wayne, but it was he—perhaps more than anyone else – who cherished and worked hard to preserve the remarkable history of the Silver family.  All of us who appreciate our family’s history owe Wayne a debt of gratitude.

So, it is in response to Wayne’s invitation that I have the honor to offer these remarks as a memorial to Reverend Jacob Silver who was an effective and beloved Baptist preacher in this area of North Carolina for a goodly part of the 19th century.


The story of how the Silver family settled in the Toe River Valley is reasonably well documented, and I shall not attempt to retrace that story today.

Rather, I should like to offer a perspective of Jacob Silver’s life that can be seen only through the lens of his Christian faith and his ministry as a Baptist preacher.  In attempting to offer this perspective I have drawn my thoughts from two respected books on the history of Baptists in North Carolina, and a well known book entitled The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness by H. Leon McBeth, a History of Mitchell Baptist  Association, and my experience of nearly forty years as a Baptist minister.

Jacob Silver migrated to this area of the Toe River Valley some time around 1806, give or take two or three years.  He probably came here from Morganton, North Carolina.  Since this area was a wilderness, Jacob was a pioneer in the truest sense of that word.  One of his first tasks was to build a house for his family.  The first and only house he built stands just across the road, with its magnificent view of the Black Mountains, and it is sheltered from cold north wind by the brow of the hill on which we are gathered today.

When Jacob arrived here, his primary vocation was that of a pioneer farmer -- a vocation he shared with many other settlers.  His first wife, Elizabeth Wilson, died at the birth of their only child, a son named Charles, born October 3, 1812.  Tragically, Charles was killed by his wife, Frankie Stewart Silver on December 22, 1831.  Two years later, Frankie was hanged in Morganton.

On October 6, 1814, Jacob married Nancy Reed and she bore him twelve children.

For a while he served in the War of 1812, volunteering at Crabtree, which at the time was in Buncombe County, North Carolina.  He is described as being six feet tall with dark hair and fair complexion.  He was reported to been very strong physically.

But Jacob was not only a farmer and a former soldier.  Something else was stirring in the depths of his being, namely his religious experiences and beliefs.

We do not know when Jacob became a Christian or when he became a Baptist, or when he became a preacher.  But a little informed conjecture and a little imaginative license may be of help.

Whether Jacob was a Christian and a Baptist when he came to these beautiful mountains is not known.  He could have met and influenced by Baptist people in the Piedmont section of North Carolina where there were many Baptists.  People of the Baptist faith had settled along the Holston River Valley in what is now the State of Tennessee in the last quarter of the 18th century and built churches in their settlements.  Moreover, they were evangelistic, and Jacob could have known some of them.  Presbyterians and Methodists were also evangelizing and building churches.

In any event Jacob became a Baptist, and how that shaped his life and preaching could be understood by knowing a little about who Baptists are and what their religious beliefs are.

Baptists emerged in England during the first half of the 17th century, say 1600 to 1650.  In addition to their deep religious or Christian beliefs, they had an almost fanatical belief in and commitment to the liberty of conscience in matters of religion.  Liberty of conscience meant for the Baptists that an individual may have direct access to God. That being true, neither King, Prelate, nor Priest stood between them and God.  This conviction led them to demand complete religious freedom and the total separation of church and state.  King James I had threatened to “harrie them (Baptists) out of the land.”

Some people with Baptist beliefs were among the Pilgrims who came to Plymouth Rock.  Among them were William Brewster and William Bradford who had been members of the Baptist Church in England and rose to prominence among the “Pilgrim Fathers.”

The first Baptist Church in America was established at Providence, Rhode Island in 1639.  Many Baptists came south settling in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The liberty of conscience, the complete freedom of religion without government interference, the total separation of church and state, and fierce loyalty to the state in all manners other than religion have characterized Baptists at their best from the beginning.

The first amendment to our National Constitution is due in no small part to the influence of Baptists in Virginia.

It is not unreasonable to believe that Jacob Silver would have been familiar with these ideas and that they could have been one reason he became a Baptist.  It is reasonable to conjecture that he came to what was then “Frontier.” In order to be free from government or ecclesiastical restraint.

How did Jacob become a Baptist preacher?  Among Baptists, of his day, any man could become a Baptist preacher if he testified to his church that he had been called by God and if he could demonstrate that he had what were called “gifts” (abilities) for preaching and ministry.  Of course a man had to live a life above reproach.

A sense of divine call to ministry was paramount for Baptists.  One did not choose ministry as a vocation.  One must be called by God.  Baptist preachers did not go out to preach until and unless they were sent by God.

When one testified that God had called him to preach the Gospel, his church would give him a “license” or permission to practice his gifts.  If a man demonstrated his effectiveness as a preacher, he was then subjected to an examination by an ordaining council regarding his Christian and doctrinal beliefs.  The council would then recommend that the man be ordained or ordination be withheld for some reason.

Education among early Baptists in these mountains was almost non-existent.  Here and there was a preacher or two with limited education, but most of them were illiterate.

However, Jacob was fortunate in that his wife, Nancy, could read and she read the bible to him and he memorized biblical passages that he used while preaching.  Nancy, like many a preacher’s wife, was an invaluable asset to Jacob and his ministry.

Family history has it that Jacob was a devout man with Christian convictions.  He had a small room in his house that he used for prayer and meditation.  He must have spent many hours memorizing parts of the Bible, and you know how hard that kind of mental work is.

Like most—if not all—Baptist preachers of his day, Jacob was expected to carry out his ministry in addition to earning a livelihood for his family.  He refused to be paid for his preaching.  It is reported that on one occasion he refused to accept a pair of socks that a woman had knitted for him, until he was assured that the socks were not some form of compensation for his preaching.

Baptist preachers either walked or rode a horse to church and to visit their church members.  Sometimes they would attend Baptist Associational Meetings many miles from their homes.  When such occasions occurred, they were hosted by Baptists to which they traveled.  The horses were cared for by their hosts.

Jacob is reported to have served three churches during his active ministry—Green Mountain, Double Island and Big Ivy.

His name first appears in North Carolina Baptist History in 1841, at that time he was the preacher for the Green Mountain Church which was in the Big Ivy Association. The Association appointed Jacob and two other preachers to represent the Association at a “Union Meeting at Caney River Church, Yancey County, North Carolina to commence on Friday before the 3rd Sabbath in November.”  Caney River is now Cane River Church located between Burnsville and Asheville.

At that time the Big Ivy Association had 14 churches with a total membership of 403, and during that year 33 had been received by baptism and 18 by letter, i.e., from other Baptist churches.

In 1848, seven years later, the Big Ivy Association had 25 churches with 732 members.  One Baptist historian writes that “The Big Ivy (Association) did a work and exerted an influence of epochal importance of epochal importance among Baptists, not only of the French Broad region, but also of the entire state of North Carolina.”

Writing of the preachers in the Big Ivy Association, another historian says:

All preachers belonging to this body (The Big Ivy Association) were intensely evangelical, they went everywhere preaching the Word, and success attended their efforts; churches increased in membership, new churches were planted and the doctrines they preached were generally held to be the doctrines of God’s word.

Most of them were noted for piety and for zeal and devotion to the Lord’s work; and dieing in good old age left their work to follow them for the glory of God.  The Big Ivy brethren were not heterodox as they have been represented, they were sounder than their creed, and the record shows that they were truly evangelical.


As the population increased in these mountains, new Baptist associations were formed, generally along county lines.  The history of Mitchell Baptist Association indicates that Jacob Silver preached the annual associational sermon in 1854 at Big Rock Creek Baptist Church.  As a rule, this honor was reserved for the better known preachers in the association who had earned the esteem and respect of their fellow-preachers and of the people of the churches that comprised the association.

Jacob’s preaching, no doubt reflected his piety and devotion.  His sermons would have been evangelical, heavy with his appeals to his hearers to repent their sins, seek God’s forgiveness, be converted, and to be baptized and join a church and live lives worthy as their calling as Christians.  He would have poured his heart and soul into his sermons, sometimes giving his emotions full rein, with ample gesturing to accompany them.

So far as I know, he labored in the ministry to which God had called him until his strength waned.  When he died we may assume that he was a beloved and respected preacher who was ready to hear the words of his Lord, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

With what we know about Jacob Silver and his life as a Baptist preacher, we may draw some significant conclusions about him.

Jacob was a man of unusual physical stamina and strength.  A lesser man could not have done for so the good work that he did.

He was a man of profound religious experience.  He knew God and God knew him and called him—like Jacob of old—to be one of his choice servants. 

Though he could neither read nor write, he was blessed with sharp intellectual abilities and, with the help of his wife, Nancy, he made the best possible use of what God had given him.

Jacob was a man who had the faith and ability to overcome tragedy rather that let tragedy defeat him.  His first-born son was brutally murdered in December of 1831, but with God’s help, he went on with the work to which God had called him.  He probably used that terrible experience to help make him a more effective and loving preacher.

Jacob, no doubt with much help from Nancy, distinguished himself among his fellow preachers and the people of Baptist churches in this area of the mountains.  He must have been a preacher who kept himself free from scandal and irresponsibility that have characterized many preachers down through the years. He was not a preacher for what he could get out of preaching.  He was a preacher because of what preaching could get out of him.

Finally, Jacob Silver has left us a noble and admirable legacy.  He lived a life dedicated to God; a life of devotion to his family; a life of service to his church and community; and a life of a sterling character.  His is a legacy to which all of us here gathered in his memory and honor may aspire.





Horace Silvers


Burnsville – Horace Silvers, 84, of Jacks Creek, died peacefully and with loving care at Brookside Rehabilitation and Care, on Tuesday, June 27, 2006.

He was the son of the late Joe and Ruth Phillips Silvers. Horace was a member of Jack's Creek Presbyterian Church. He served his country in the U.S. Army during World War II and spent most of his life being a carpenter and farmer, taking great pride in doing his job well.

Surviving are his wife of 59 years, Grace McIntosh Silvers; son, Gary Silvers and wife, Sue of Burnsville; five daughters, Rowena Sprouse and husband, Ray of Asheville, Mary Jane Boyd of Marion, Johnnie Shook of Weaverville, Virginia Ray and husband, Jimmy, and Julia Fox and husband, Randy of Burnsville; 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren; sister, Kitty Bradford of Jonesborough, Tenn.; brother-in-law, Clyde McIntosh of Burnsville.

The funeral service will be held at 8 p.m. Thursday in the chapel of Holcombe Brothers Funeral Home. Dr. Robert Garrison will officiate.

The graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in Wilson Cemetery.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.

Memorials may be made to Alzheimer's Association, Mountain Office, 31 College Place, Ste. D320, Asheville, NC 28801 or Gideons International, P.O. Box 264, Burnsville, NC 28714.

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > John Jackson Silver > Marvel Alexander Silver > William Erwin Silver > Joseph Erwin Silvers > Horace Silver)



Our Mountains Call Us Home to the

Bi-Centennial Silver Family Celebration

Two Fun Filled Days of Special Events and Honored Guests

By Rex Redmon

(Contributing writer to Silver Threads)


All roads will lead to Mitchell County, North Carolina, the weekend of July 22 and 23 when the Silver Family Kith and Kin gather at the Bandana Community Center to celebrate 200 Years of existence in the mountains of Western, North Carolina.

Yes, our mountains do call us home in the year 2006 in as much as they called our ancestor, George Silver, and his family home in the year 1806. The yearn to reunite with family from all across America pulls strongly at every Silver Cousin who has ever visited the hills of Mitchell County, North Carolina, as did the yearn of starting a new life in a new place pulled at George Silver.  Whether we meet to renew old family acquaintances, share familiar family stories, feast on a banquet of good country cooking, share in the fellowship of a common family bond, and most certainly celebrate our heritage, we will nevertheless meet.  Last minute planning for the event is still occurring as we go to press, however, a tentative schedule of events for the two day happening follows. 

This year’s reunion and Bi-Centennial Celebration is being held in the Bandana Community Center in Mitchell County, North Carolina, instead of the big church at KONA.  Several of our Silver cousins with respiratory issues suggested a change of location and this year is only a trial run at the Bandana Community Center. The Bandana Community Center is located approximately 2 miles beyond the Silver Family Cemetery in the community of Bandana on Highway 80 North.  The community is easy to locate.  From Burnsville, North Carolina, take highway 19-23 north for approximately six miles and continue past the community of Michaville approximately two miles. Then turn left on highway 80 north.  Follow Highway 80 north approximately eight miles and the Bandana Community Center is located on the right side of the highway near the Silver Chapel Baptist Church.  Please contact either Rex Redmon at [email protected] or Jere Howell at [email protected] for further directions. 

The Nu Wray Inn in Burnsville is a pleasant place to stay for the weekend.  Make your reservations early at the Bed and Breakfast by calling 1-800-368-9729.  The Nu Wray INN is in a resort area so expect to pay $80.00 to $90.00 per night.  You may also call the Spruce Pine Chamber of Commerce for accommodations in Spruce Pine or Little Switzerland. 

Saturday morning kicks off at 9:00 with registration and greeting one another.  After everyone has said hello we will have an official welcoming, devotion and a few comments and announcements from the event planners.

For you genealogy enthusiasts, John Silver and Clarence Tillery, our two devoted Silver family historians, will be available all day both Saturday and Sunday with their PCs, scanners, copiers and printers to help you with Silver family genealogy research. They in particular ask everyone to bring old family photos which can be scanned and which John will later publish in the family history book he is writing and putting together.  For information about Silver family history please contact John Silver at [email protected].  John and Clarence will also have all of the family history books which are normally stored at the family museum in the big church. There are over sixty books available for you to browse through. 

 For all newcomers to the event, a tour to the family homestead, the Silver Family Museum and the Silver Family Cemetery at KONA are part of the morning schedule as well.

As there are no restaurants within eight miles of Bandana we encourage everyone to bring a picnic lunch for yourselves (ice and drinks will be provided) on Saturday and plan to spend the day because…

…after lunch our honored Guest for the weekend, Dr. Lloyd Bailey, publisher of the five Volume, Toe River Valley Heritage―North Carolina books will be our guest speaker for the day and I’m sure everyone wants to hear Dr. Bailey share his experiences as a keeper of family history.

We also expect author and playwright, Maxine McCall of Morganton, North Carolina   to be on hand both Saturday and Sunday, and possibly another author and playwright, Perry Dean Young of Chapel Hill, North Carolina will drop by for a visit. In addition, another playwright and also president of the Frankie Silver Foundation, Howard Williams of Morganton, North Carolina, will pay us a visit this year.  All these authors will have copies of their publications available for purchase and personal autographs

 Did you know as a Silver Family member you can claim as your relative Former President Harry Truman, current Vice President Dick Chaney, Actor Robert Duvall, Supreme Court Justice Gabriel Duvall (1780s) and Duchess Bessie Warfield of Paris, France? And, did you know you can have your own name included in a pedigree with all those famous cousins? 

Cousin Archer Blevins, owner and publisher of The Over Mountain Press Publishing Company in Johnson City, Tennessee, will have on display during the reunion the personalized eleven generation family pedigree beginning in 1625 with our ancestor Maureen Duvall.  Archer will take your order for your personal 14” x 24” color family pedigree and ship it to you within two weeks.  Maureen Duvall was a French Huguenot from Normandy France and was the grandfather to Comfort Duvall who married the grandfather of Nancy Ann Griffith who married our Silver Ancestor, George Silver Jr.  Margaret and I already have our Pedigrees framed and hanging on the wall in my study and we love them.  (We are fifth cousins.) 

 Sunday is Decoration Day at the family cemetery in KONA and along with decorating the graves of our ancestors; we plan to hold a memorial service at 10:00 in the grove at the Cemetery.  Everyone is invited as we remember and pay tribute to those who are no longer with us.

At 11:00 everyone is invited to attend the worship service held at the Silver Chapel Baptist Church which is located within walking distance of the Bandana Community Center.  Following the worship service, we will participate in our traditional Covered Dish Sunday Dinner at approximately 12:30.  Everyone, please bring enough food for your family plus one more person.  Drinks, ice, plates, cups and eating utensils will be provided.

Following lunch you will certainly want to attend the Sunday afternoon programs.  Authoress Maxine McCall will again have an actress on hand who will perform a rendering of the Frankie Silver tragedy.  On Saturday afternoon during last year’s reunion, actress Kim Kay of Boone gave a very moving rendering of Frankie and the dilemma in which she found herself after Charlie Silver’s body was found chopped to pieces.  Cousin Norma Westall will sing the Ballad of Frankie Silver as well.

Cousins Laura Cooper and Kay Silver have volunteered to keep vigil at the family museum both Saturday and Sunday in the big church at KONA.  There, they will also have Silver Family Reunion “T” shirts for sale. You might want to stop at the museum on your way up to Bandana and buy reunion “T” shirts for your family. Also, I am told the small church located at the family cemetery will be open for touring as well.  There you will see the fresco of Charlie and Frankie’s cabin and many newspaper artifacts hanging on the walls of the church that tell about the Charlie and Frankie tragedy.   For information about the family museum please contact Laura Cooper at [email protected] or Kay Silver at [email protected].

There will plenty of nice door prizes such as framed Silver Family Crests and various books written about our Silver Family, plus lots of other activity and good food. 

 If you have never attended a Silver Family reunion celebration in Mitchell County, North Carolina, you will not want to miss this historic event.  Think about the magnitude of two-hundred (200) years of residence in the Western North Carolina high mountains—then think―WOW, I want to be there for that celebration!  Pray for good weather.

See You in Bandana July 22 and 23!

                                                                                    Cousin Rex Redmon

                                                                   [email protected]


Post Script

Next month I will begin writing about Who’s Who in the Civil War Letters which have been part of the newsletter for two-and-a-half years.  I feel sure you will enjoy reading about the many folks connected to the Civil War letters.



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

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