JULY 2007


Written and Published Online by John Silver

w/contributing articles by various Silver cousins



Greetings to All !


I hope this finds all of you well and happy. We are enjoying the summer and all the accompaniments. So far, we have not been bothered by excessive heat. Mosquitoes have been rare this year thanks to Delaware’s insect control. So, this month I have nothing to complain about. (No one listens anyway.)

Following is a letter from Laura Cowan Cooper regarding this year’s Silver Family Reunion, which will take place on the fourth Saturday and Sunday, 21st and 22nd of July at Kona. Laura is the boss lady of the reunion and always pulls it off in a great way. A lot of us fail to recognize her efforts and hard work putting everything together and making a success of it. Thanks Laura!!

Cousin John




Things for me have settled down and it is now time to start working on the 2007 Silver Reunion. The dates for 2007 are July 21-22. This is the 4th Sunday of the month of July.

I have confirmed our use of the Kona Missionary Baptist Church (Big Church) for the 2007 Silver Reunion. As far as I know, George Silver Jr. will open the little church for the family and will have the cemetery beautiful. (George Jr. and his family as well as the Freeman Family very seldom get a “thank you” for all the hard work they put into the reunion. Ed.)

John Silver will not be able to be here again this year. Clarence “Til” Tillery will be set up for the database. John picked up all the books and took them home to be updated in January. He returned them in April, all brought up to date. There have been a lot of changes and about 1000 more cousins added.

I will bring the T-shirts that are still in good supply. The church now owns them outright thanks to Jere Howell’s generosity. We will sell them for $10.00 and they are of good quality. The “staff” will wear them along with a red neck bandana so you can ask them for information or help.

I do not know if there will be a Sunday morning service at the Little Church. However, if there is one, you would be welcome to attend. We need someone to lead a short service at the cemetery on Sunday morning. If you would like to volunteer for this, please let me know.

One of our big needs is to form some sort of non-profit group that can get legal status. A cemetery group or a preservation group for the care of the big church and the cemetery section that it owns would be ideal. Many of us are Silver family but also Thomas, Buchanan, Gouge, Howell, Stewart, Pittman, Geouge, Ruth, etc.  There are only about 5 church members left alive and if we do not do something soon, the church roof is going to fall on our heads. Joe Ruth’s death cost us our prime mover in starting a Silver Family Association. If anyone has suggestions or would like to head such a group, he or she would be most welcome.

Our preparation days are Wednesday and Thursday mornings, 18 and 19 of July.

I have heard from some of you volunteers but some of my e-mail addresses are shaky.

·         John Silver – Dover, DE: [email protected]

·         Wanda Silver Freeman – Spruce Pine, NC: [email protected]

·         Kay Silver – East Tennessee: [email protected]

·         Jere Howell – Asheville, NC: [email protected]

·         Linda Cabaniss – Shelby, NC: [email protected]

·         Myra Silver Stevens – Brevard, NC: [email protected]

·         Cheryl Birchfield – Clyde, NC: [email protected]

·         Lloyd “Skip” & Sarah Crawford – Portsmouth, VA: [email protected]

·         Daina Silver – Dalton, GA: [email protected]

·         Kathy M. Sulc – Fairview, NC: [email protected]

I look forward to seeing everyone at the reunion,

Laura Cowan Cooper of Kodak, TN
[email protected]



And a letter from Maxine McCall:


Hi John,

Good to hear from you, if only an e-mail check. Do keep us on your list.

So sorry you weren’t able to make the Silver reunion the past couple of years. We missed you. And, unfortunately, we’re unable to come this year due to a prior commitment. And, I feel bad about that because the program committee asked me to be guest speaker again. Hope they will give me a rain check on that for another year.

I’m still working to complete my update of They Won’t Hang a Woman. I had to take a good bit of time from that project this year to create an exhibit about Frankie for the History Museum of Burke County. It’s a sizable exhibit of photographs of some of the original documents and letters, people and places related to the case. The exhibit opened last August and will be on display through August 10 of 2007. It turned out well, I think. If you make it to the reunion this year, do encourage folks to go by Morganton and take a look. The Museum is located in the old City Hall Building on the corner of King and Meeting Streets, one block south of the Old Courthouse Square.

Don and I also put together a trip that took 30+ people to visit the cabin site and cemetery in Kona. I wanted people to know something about the rich heritage of the Silver family apart from Charlie’s death and Frankie’s hanging. The people with us were moved by and appreciative of the information I shared in the old church and at the cabin site. Then, on May 19th, I invited Perry Deane Young to join me for a discussion of “The Truth Behind the Legends of Frankie Silver.” That event was well attended – over 60 people. They sat spellbound for nearly two hours on hard metal chairs, giving rapt attention as Perry and I talked about various aspects of the case. Needless to say, he and I had a great time with an audience like that.

This fall, Don and I will be offering another trip to Kona and also a trip to Frankie’s gravesite near Morganton. Anyone wanting information about those should call the History Museum in the fall (early October). (828-437-1777)

Meanwhile, I’m now devoting my full time to the book once again. I’ll keep you posted as it nears completion.

Maxine McCall



Editor’s Notes:

Both McCall and Young have spent years researching all angles of the Frankie Silver story. What they have found has put an entirely new spin on what is now known to be true about the trial that Senator Sam Ervin Jr. considered to be the most intriguing case in North Carolina’s History.

Since 1972, McCall’s, “They Won’t Hang a Woman,” has been used in the Burke County Schools for various units of study. Her book presents a moving first-person narrative giving Frankie, who was not allowed to testify at the trial, her day in court. McCall’s was one of the first published books to suggest that Frankie may have killed Charlie in self-defense. Adapted for theater by Dr. Cheryl Oxford, “They Won’t Hang a Woman” has been performed numerous times in Burke County and televised on PBS. McCall is in the process of updating her book to include photographs and more recent findings about the case.

Perry Deane Young discovered by accident documents in the State Archives that literally reversed his understanding of the murder he’d heard tales about since childhood from relatives with roots in the community where the crime took place. His discovery of those little-known documents sent him on a quest to discover all the facts behind the story. His findings were published in 1998 as “The Untold Story of Frankie Silver,” with an update in 2005. Young also co-authored a play about the crime, titled “Frankie,” which premiered in 2001, at the Appalachian Repertory Theatre on the campus of Mars Hill College.

Both McCall and Young are noted for their historical writings. McCall’s comprehensive history books about the town of Valdese, “What Mean These Stones?” and Granite Falls, “Etched in Granite,” have won awards from the North Carolina Society of Historians. In 2005 she received the NCSH President’s Award for Etched in Granite as the best entry overall in that year’s competition.

Young has written nine non-fiction books, two plays, a screenplay and articles for numerous national newspapers and magazines. One of his books, “The David Kopay Story,” written with the pro football player, was on the New York Times best-seller list for nine weeks and was named one of the ten best books for Young Adults of 1977 by the American Library Association. “The Kopay Story” and Young’s book about the Vietnam War, “Two of the Missing,” have been optioned for motion pictures.



We received a note from Charles “Charlie” Parker, g-grandson of David William and Nancy Silver Parker:


John, I still have the same e-mail address. Thanks for checking. Here is something that I have been posting on ParkerARootsA for the past six months with no response. Do you have any suggestions on where to post. I hope all is well with you and yours, Chas Parker.

Looking for information on Elijah Parker. Elijah was born in NC, brother to David William. In the 1870 census, Elijah is in Arkansas County, Arkansas Township, state of Arkansas. He was 33 years old and his occupation was wheelwright. His wife, Emma, is age 21, born TN. They have a son, John W. age 12, born NC; a son, Joseph, age 9, born NC; a son, Albert, age 6, born NC and a son, Charlie, age 3, born TN. Ten years later, 1880, in LA Grew Township, Arkansas Township, Arkansas, Elijah’s two sons are listed as farm laborers living with W.A. Dunn and family. Elijah’s son, John W. Parker, I was able to locate in Oklahoma, Bennington Ward #three, in 1910. He had a wife, Mary, born in AR. A daughter, Frances, age 16, born in TX and a son, John D. Parker. I have not been able to locate Elijah after 1870. Thank you, Charles Parker.


Can anyone help Charlie? I know he would appreciate it.



Received a note from Jim and Ada Silver Hauser:


Dear John,

I just wanted to let everyone know that my nephew, Colt Silvers, son of my half-brother, Jerry Silvers of Mt. Vernon, GA is now Mr. East Georgia.

In late March, he was selected as first runner-up.

In early May, Colt wrote to tell us of the following:

“Turns out the guy who won the Mr. East Georgia pageant wasn’t a good guy and he lost his title. So, now I am the one and only Mr. East Georgia. It’s great fun. I had to ride in a parade yesterday (May 5th), and I am going to escort our Miss East Georgia in the Miss Georgia Pageant so I will be on television, so that’s cool.”


Colt is a student at East Georgia College.


Counselor Cody and his friend Cameron at Camp Shady Brook.



I have had several inquiries about Curtis Creek lately. I think several people are using the warm weather to visit their ancestors. Could be that the price of gasoline is keeping a lot of people home. Examining the local area is a good way to find out about your ancestry. I have an article that was given me by John Silver Harris some time ago. It is the latest information I have on Curtis Creek.



By Will Curtis

Asheville Citizen-Times


In 1911, when a Smoky Mountain National Park still was only a gleam in the eye of Horace Kephart, Congress adopted the Weeks Act. This law empowered the U.S. Forest Service to buy and restore land “necessary for the protection of navigable streams.”

It was the Weeks Act by which our government acquired most of the national forests in the East. Much of it was land that had been devastated by timber barons and was in sore need of restoration.

The first parcel of land acquired under the Weeks Act was Curtis Creek, near Old Fort. As would happen to thousands of other mountain people, the families living there were forced to sell their land to the government and move out.

Two of them were the Silver and Carver families, who had come to Curtis Creek in the 1800s from the Mitchell County area. I happen to know about them because they were the families of my maternal grandparents.

Cemeteries? They are there, too. One of them is the cemetery of the Curtis family, which settled in the valley in the 1790s and for whom the creek is named.

The cemetery was lost for many years. Even my father did not know where it was. I found it some years ago, through the help of a kind woman who lives on the creek and whose sons had stumbled on the plot while roaming the woods.

It’s a small cemetery, on a ridge that rises above the creek and its bottomlands. Most of the graves are marked by rocks buried in the ground. Only one grave has a carved headstone. The inscription bears a simple message, “Rev. Moses Curtis, born 1777, died 1853.”

The cemetery is on national forest land and no road goes to it. You can reach it only by walking, but I’m grateful to be able to get to it at all. In the months before he died, my father wanted to visit it, but he couldn’t. He wasn’t strong enough.


(The above is excerpted from an article in the Charlotte Observer, January 22, 1989, reprinted from The Asheville Citizen-Times:.  Will Curtis was the editorial page editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times, in which this article originally appeared.  Ed.)

More Editor Notes: I recommend that you call Gladys Gibbs, (828) 668-7553, before attempting to visit the Silver cemetery. It is located on the right side going up Curtis Creek and has very limited parking space. There is a gate and you may be able to get the key for it by following Gladys’ instructions. If you can get the key you can drive onto the property, thus not blocking a good portion of the gravel road.




We received a nice letter from Mr. A.M. Buchanan from over in Charlotte. Mr. Buchanan also sent a map which he had drawn from memory of how, to his recollection, where the old grist mills were located on Curtis Creek.



The one marked (1) up toward the Parkway was built and operated by Mr. Buchanan’s grandfather, Mr. Bill “Mossy” Buchanan. Mr. Buchanan states that this mill was built and operated some time before his birth, which was in 1910. He also states that he does not know who operated the mill marked (2). I dug back and found a letter from Howard Woody and he tells us that mill rocks in Dink Smith’s yard are from a corn mill dating from the 1920s. He says that Tom Gurthy owned and ground corn for years, then a Mr. White owned it and ran it for years.

The Mr. White he spoke of had only one arm. Around 1934, he sold the mill to Ris and Howard Woody. They converted the mill from water powered to mechanical means. Ris and Howard installed a big, old, Packard engine. All through the Depression they ground corn for their friends and neighbors on Curtis Creek.

The C.C.C. Camp came to Curtis Creek and Ris was transferred to High Point, NC. Howard got married in 1938 and moved to Michigan. Howard states that they left the old mill and he heard later that a Smith fellow had bought the farm and dismantled the mill. He set the grindstones up in his yard.

Digging back further, we find the mill (2), about a quarter of a mile above the Blackwelder Hole was destroyed by the great flood of 1917. Mr. Buchanan’s father helped operate this mill. His father was named Elbert Buchanan and he died in 1920.

Thanks for all this information from Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Woody.


(I believe that Alfred Leonard Silver either built or operated a gristmill on Curtis Creek. He was well known as a millwright. Ed)





 We have no obituaries for this month.  If only that were the case for every month!



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

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