Written and Published Online by John Silver

w/contributing articles by various Silver cousins



Dear Family & Friends


Christmas and New Year have come and gone. We do hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will have a prosperous and happy new year.

We had a nice Christmas with the exception that all of our sons and their families could not be here. But we will a big get together in June of 2008. All our family is well and happy. The grandchildren all had a great Christmas and that is what it is all about.

We had a letter from Cousin Jack Silver telling us that he has been very ill. A blood clot in his leg put him on blood thinner and it had a devastating effect. However, he’s out of the hospital now and although he is still sick he at least feels much better. Hang in there, Cousin! We’re rootin’ for you!

Had a nice card and a note from Cousin Kit Weaver. Kit says he is now 92 and still driving his car and shooting skeet but not as much as before. He explained that his note would be short because his typewriter doesn’t spell very well. He thought it would get better when they replaced his knee but he says it still can’t get his words right. Keep up the good work, Kit. There’s a lot to be said for us old warhorses.

Barbara and Ron Gregory are doing fine. Ron is retired now after 39 years with the electric company. They have plans to travel and spend more time spoiling their grandchildren. Have a ball, folks, you’ve earned it!

David Taylor is still traveling Western North Carolina blowing up balloons for the little children. They’ve adopted him as their great-grandfather. He must have several hundred great-grandchildren at this point! Seriously, David stays busy with his church groups and visiting family. He brings a lot of cheer and pleasure to others. David is still our ace reporter from Hickory.

From Jim and Ada Hauser; Yes – tis that time of the year to say Merry Christmas and hi to all we seldom see or those we have not seen in many years but we still have a special connection with you. We hope this time of the year reminds you of the sacred meaning of this year and not the politically correct one.

Cousin Billy Jack Silver sent a nice Christmas card and picture of him with Lillie Belle. In case you didn’t know, Lillie Belle is a beautiful bulldog. Like Billy, she always has a smile for everyone.

Maxine and Don McCall sent a nice card saying “Love and Blessings.” It contains a short note. “I’m within 20 pages of having, ‘They Won’t Hang a Woman,’ ready for the printer.  2008 will be the year of its debut, Lord willing.”  Thanks, Maxine, that is very good news.

Connie and Ralph Crump are pretty much homebound now. Ralph has developed Alzheimer’s and is suffering from macular degeneration. Connie says he is doing well but has problems walking.  Connie and Ralph, stay in good spirits and remember that you are in our prayers.

Bill and Arley Lewis are doing well. They have really had a rough winter so far and have not done much traveling.  However, they are going to Hawaii in January through February to get away from the rain and non-golf weather.  Have a great vacation!!!

Nancy Puckett, our star reporter and researcher from Morganton, sends her best with a card stuffed with articles on Frankie Silver.  Thank you again Nancy. We will look into a pay raise for you this year!

Jackie Haynes wrote a nice letter. She now lives in San Antonio. She says she is now 80 but is doing well. I’m sure the weather agrees with her.  Keep us informed, Jackie.

And a letter from Joy Dunaway: Dear Cousins, I am a member of the DAR through an ancestor of my late mother’s line. I have almost enough documentation for the Benjamin Brackett line. After receiving the George Silver information, I read the application papers and noticed your name listed as a source for John (1784-1885). Do you have documentation on his daughter, Elizabeth, being his daughter? I would love to have proof of this relationship.  Thanks, Joy  [email protected].  Joy, I’m sorry to say that I do not have proof, only the listings from the census reports. At present, I am working with the descendants of George III.  When I have all the info on George, I will start on John. Maybe I can be of help then.  Can anyone else help Joy?  She has spent a lot of time researching this line and I’m sure that she would appreciate any help.

We’ve had a nice letter from Kathleen Jeanette Jones Carter who asked us to update her family information. I have done so. Thank you, Kathleen, I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Rev. Jacob Silver > Edmund Drury Silver > Nancy Taylor Silver m. John L. Hall > Arthur Cleveland Hall > Laura Jeanette Hall m. Lester Claire Jamison > Nancy Jane Jamison m. Robert Eugene Jones > Rebecca, Stephanie and Kathleen Jones.)

And to the other 54 of you who sent cards, thank you. We are always glad to hear from cousins at Christmas to know that they are blessed with good health and happiness.

This letter will be short for obvious reasons. The holiday season does not leave much time for research.

Happy New Year to all and may everyone become rich!!!!!

Cousin John




Baba Tames a Squirrel


My grandfather, Ira Golden Silver (Isaac, Edward, George III) known as “Baba” to all his grandchildren, was a great lover of the outdoors. He liked to camp, hike and fish, and took every available opportunity to go up to the mountains or out to the beach. These outings usually included at least some of the other members of the family.

One summer shortly after World War Two ended and gas rationing along with it, Baba and Gigi and my parents, plus their kids, took the two little house trailers up to Idlewild for a week. Idlewild is a resort area on the south side of San Jacinto Mountain in southern California. It was still pretty rustic in 1947. I remember clearly getting taken to my first play in an outdoor amphitheater there.  Also building ‘forests’ of pinecones and lying awake listening to owls and coyotes and other things that went bump in the night.

But, most of all I remember Baba’s determination to tame a squirrel. He had a pocket full of peanuts and endless patience. He started out lying in a hammock and placing a peanut on the ground near his feet. The jays caught on quickly and in two days would hop up and grab a peanut from his fingers, fly up into the trees to eat their treasure and wait for opportunity to get more. But the squirrels were a bit more elusive. They would pick up the peanuts on the ground and moved closer to Baba’s head as he moved the peanuts, a little at a time. They learned to beat the jays to most of them. But try as he might, he couldn’t get the little creatures to climb up on the hammock. They were not about to trust even a human that could lie as still as a stone and not make a move to chase them. Baba was about to give up, but he still enjoyed feeding the jays and watching the squirrels.

One lazy afternoon he got a little tired. So, pocketful of peanuts and waiting jays and all, he dropped off to sleep. Mom and I were sitting on the other side of the camp, reading. Grammie was taking a nap in one of the trailers and Dad and my brothers were off on an all day hike. Baba lay in his hammock snoring gently.


Mom glanced up and quietly alerted me. There, poised over the hammock, looking at the bonanza of peanuts in Baba’s pocket was a squirrel. We watched with baited breath as the little creature crept closer and closer to his desired treasure. Baba continued to snore gently. The squirrel came a little closer. Baba snored louder. The squirrel jumped back. Baba quieted down and the squirrel came back. Soon he was on the hammock. But, oh, those peanuts, still just out of reach in that shirt pocket. Would he or wouldn’t he?

Finally, very bravely, he stepped on Baba’s chest. And, apparently tickled the sleeper. Baba jumped, swished his arm and came awake swearing “those *!%# flies.” And then woke up fully and realized what he had done!

Needless to say, he never got a squirrel that close to him again. And we all laughed until our sides ached.  And made sure there was an ample supply of nuts were left on the ground for the poor squirrel, who was probably scared to death and went back to his friends in the pines with a horrible story to tell about the monster in the hammock.

Karyl Hubbard
October, 2004



The following is taken from Lowell Presnell’s book

MINES, MINERS AND MINERALS of Western North Carolina


AS It relates to the mineral industry of Mitchell County.


Native Americans and then Spaniards had mined for the mineral wealth of Western North America for at least 300 years before modern mining began operations. Modern miners found that if they would dig in ancient mines, they would generally find a valuable mineral. Most ancient mines were destroyed this way.

Very little hard-rock mining was done by the ancients; the Horse Stomp Mine, located on Rich’s Knob in Mitchell County, was an exception. Before the heading of the mine collapsed, it was explored by D.D. Collis before the turn of the century. The ancients carried the heading about 400 feet, turning slightly and going down for at least eighty feet. The entrance was dirt and had been cribbed with chestnut logs. There is no evidence of what the miners were looking for. The mine dump consisted of Carolina gneiss, impure quartz and gossan. The absence of bornite (sometimes called peacock pyrite), covolite or copper stains on the dump preclude copper as a possibility, so probably it was gold. The quartz must have carried the mineral the ancients sought. The size of the mine indicated that it was a successful operation.

Most ancient miners only mined the topsoil. This was evident at the Sink Hole Mine, located near Bandana in Mitchell County. The workings of the mine resembled a large railway that extended about a third of a mile along the ridge and was sixty to eighty feet wide at the top.  There was evidence that iron tools had been used but only stone tools were found.  Charles P. Stewart of Pineola excavated one of the old digs to a depth of forty-two feet.  He found a section of a tree with 300 rings of growth.  This was one of the means that was used to determine the last time a mine was active . The trees on the dumps and in the pits at the Hawk and Clarissa were cut and the growth rings counted.  On one dump, a chestnut tree measured twelve feet in circumference three feet above the ground.

Mound builders were believed to be the ancestors of the first American Indians who inhabited the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys.  It was a popular belief that mound builders were responsible for the ancient mines. Red-rum mica was found buried in their graves, but the graves were 600 years old and the mines only 300 years old.

During that period, the Catawba Indians held the land east of the Blue Ridge and the Cherokee Indians held the land to the west. The Toe River Valley was a mutual hunting and fighting ground but there were no permanent villages.

It is believed that mica on display in a museum in Madrid came from the Sink Hole Mine. The Native Americans tell of white men on mules who came from the south and carried away a white metal. This points to the Spaniards. The author personally believes the Native Americans had an effective trade system. Spear points found are often made of stone not native to that area. There are so many, the natives must have traded for and used them.

It is also the author’s belief that there were villages in the Toe River Valley over 600 years ago and they mined mica and traded it from coast to coast. The Spaniards came into the area about 1540 looking for gold and gems and knew that where the Indians had mined, there was probably something of value. This would explain some of the sites being over 300 years old. Some of the sites, such as the Horse Stomp in Mitchell County and the Ancient Mine on Bolens Creek contained nothing of value that was visible. The soft, black rock found in the dump is hornblend schist common to that area. The old Ancient Mine on Bolens Creek has kyanite close by. The Spaniards could have confused this with blue sapphire.

When James Moore and Maurice Matthews visited Cherokee country, present-day Cherokee County, they reported that they were told of bearded white miners working twenty miles west of the Indian village at Peach Tree. The evidence of gold mining in Cherokee County about 400 years ago is unmistakable. The Cherokees say that the miners were there for three summers until they were killed by the natives.

In 1913, William R. Dockery of Marble explored a mine on the mountain east of Tomatla with timbering apparently similar to that in the Horse Stomp Mine.  A few years earlier, an old gentleman by the name of Palmer got directions from the Indians to a lead mine.  A fellow by the name of Dockery and three of Palmer’s sons searched for the mine.  On the spot where the mine was supposed to be was a large forked chestnut tree.  They cut the tree and dug out the stump.  After removing some dirt a shaft was discovered that was eight foot square, cribbed with oak beams at tree foot intervals.  The shaft was filled with water up to sixty-four feet.  They could push a n iron pipe another seventeen feet through water and talc mud.  After that, Dockery found three other shafts in the area.  A Spanish coin mold was found nearby.  An old furnace of unknown origin was found but later destroyed when a house was constructed near the location.  Unusual numbers of beads, bones and arrowheads were picked up on the ridge above the tunnels and shafts, indicating a location where the Indians and Spaniards engaged in battle.



The following is an article from the Asheville Citizen-Times Centennial Edition from the 1960s.


Minerals Aid Mitchell Economy



In 1858 Senator (later General) Thomas L. Clingman of Asheville was an over-night guest in the Silver home near the present Bandana community.  Clingman, who was enthusiastic about minerals as an important natural resource of North Carolina, observed large sheets of clear mica used as window panes in the Silver home.  Immediately he wanted to know the source.

Next morning Mr. Silver conducted the Senator to the Sink Hole Mine. Before Clingman could complete arrangements for reopening the mine, the Civil War intervened.

After the war he returned to sink a new shaft at the old mine.  From its depth came huge blocks of mica, from which huge sheets could be cut.  But Clingman wasn’t interested in mica, which then had limited uses, chiefly as “windows” in heating stoves.  He was “in a sweat for silver” and when he showed samples of Sink Hole ore to a miner who had operated silver mines out West, Clingman was elated when this miner declared the silver would run as high as two hundred dollars to the ton.

It has been stated that the mine never yielded more that a tenth of that amount of silver, despite much time and money expended in attempts to locate “the lode.” Rumors have arisen from time to time of the existence of other silver mines in other parts of Mitchell County, but none of these “lost” mines have ever been reported found.

Soon after Clingman started operations of the ancient Sink Hole Mine, Isaac English had a visit from Col. J.M. Gere, a Yankee officer English and his wife had sheltered during the war. English and Gere entered the mica business together, and a log addition was built to the English Inn to serve as a mica house. The enterprise proved profitable, especially for English’s heirs.

Mica mining received a tremendous boost when new uses were discovered for scrap mica.  Robert R. Dent, associated with the English mica interests, had a son who rode a bicycle. While changing a tube, because he lacked the customary powder to place between the tire and tube to reduce friction and prevent sticking, the boy used, instead, a handful of ground mica. Nearly a year later Dent saw his son remove this tube and he noticed how easily it slipped from the casing. The boy told his father that he had used ground mica instead of the usual powdered talc.

Dent went to Akron and persuaded the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company to use 100 pounds of ground mica in making tires. Within a week they ordered 500 pounds, next a ton, then a car-load. Ever since there has been a steady market for this and many other purposes.

Robert R. Dent was the grandfather of R. Theodore Dent who was born in Spruce Pine and now lives in Asheville. He is President of the Diamond Mica Company of Spruce Pine.

Mica occurs with feldspar but for years thousands of tons of feldspar, unwanted, helped build up mountainous dumps around mica mines. In 1911, a sample carload of feldspar from the Flat Rock Mine was shipped from Penland Station on the Clinchfield Railroad. The following year the first commercial load of feldspar from Deer Park Mine No. 1 was shipped to a pottery in Ohio.

Since then, the demand for feldspar for use in pottery, tile, glass, scouring powder and many other products steadily increased. Feldspar, one a by-product of mica became a primary product, often with mica as a by-product.

Kaolin (china clay) is another mineral being produced today in great quantities in the vicinity of Spruce Pine. The deposits have been declared “practically inexhaustible.” Mining for primary kaolin on a commercial scale began in the Penland area in 1902.  In 1908 the Harris Clay Company (now Harris Mining Company) took over these operations. Until World War Two manufacturers of ceramics in the United States imported much of their clay from England, but the “Spruce Pine Mineral Kingdom” now supplies most of the kaolin used in this country. It has been declared superior, in most respects, to English clay for making fine dinnerware.  Toe Valley kaolin was used for making a dinner service used in the White House on state occasions. A service plate from this collection was exhibited by the Harris Clay Company at the 1956 North Carolina Mineral and Gem Festival in Spruce Pine.

         Other minerals which have been mined commercially in the Spruce Pine “Mineral Kingdom” including vermiculite, halloysite and olivine.

[Webmaster: As a native of Akron, Ohio, I was fascinated by this link between Mitchell County and these minerals which were known to every schoolboy while growing up in Northeast Ohio.  BVK]







Stevie Darrel “Beardy Man” Jones, 56, of Georges Fork Road passed away Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at his home. A native of Yancey County, he was a son of the late Berlin and Mary Styles Jones and an employee of Ethan Allen Furniture Company for 32 years. He was an avid hunter and fisherman.

Surviving are his sisters, Jewel Silver, Thula J. Hughes and husband, S.C., Shirley Jones of Burnsville, Charlotte Whitaker and husband, Kenneth, of Fletcher, Ruth Shipman and husband, Jim, of Horseshoe; brothers, Sam Jones, Carson Jones and wife Opal of Burnsville, L.C. Jones of Mooresboro, NC; a special friend, Jennie Silver of Burnsville; several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Friday in the Chapel of Holcombe Brothers Funeral Home. Reverends Bobby Revis and James Maybin will officiate. Burial will be in the Jones Family Cemetery. Nephews will serve as pallbearers.

The family will receive friends one hour prior to service at the funeral home.

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Rev. Thomas Silver > George Washington Silver > Horace Cleveland Silver > Clyde Silver > Rev. Jack Silver m. Jewel Jones sister of Stevie Jones.)





Kathleen Webb, 86, of Marion, died Sunday, June 10, 2007 at Autumn Care Nursing Center in Marion. A native of Yancey County, she was a daughter of the late Alonzo and Bertha Robinson Silver and the wife of Zeb Webb, who died in 1968.

Surviving are a sister, Violet Ray of Burnsville; two brothers, Virgil Silver of Oak Ridge, TN and Charles Silver of Anderson, SC; several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held at 7 p.m. Monday in the chapel of Holcombe Brothers Funeral Home. Reverend Mike Boone will officiate. A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Autrey Cemetery at South Estatoe Baptist Church.

The family will receive friends one hour prior to service at the funeral home.

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Rev. Thomas Silver > Greenberry Ellis Silver > Alonzo Lee Silver > Kathleen Silver m. Zeb Webb.)





Jerry D. Shuford, 72, of Burnsville, went home to be with the Lord Tuesday, May 8, 2007, at Weaverville Brian Center. A native of Yancey County, he was a son of the late Louis and Elsie Silver Shuford. He was also preceded in death by a son Timothy Dean Shuford. Jerry was a U.S. Army veteran and retired from Westinghouse, Savannah River Site, Aiken, SC after 40 years service. Before returning to Burnsville in 2000, he lived at New Ellenton and Williston, SC.

Surviving are his wife of 48 years, Myrna Boone Shuford; a daughter, Kim Bryant and her husband Frank and a grandson Matt Bryant of Macon, GA; a sister, Sidney Tweed and her husband R.L. of Boiling Springs, SC; two brothers, Douglas  and Doris Shuford of Fletcher and John and Faye Shuford of North Augusta, GA.

A memorial service will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday in West Burnsville Baptist Church, Burnsville, NC of which he was a member. Pastor Ricky Ray will officiate.

The family will receive friends from 6 until 7:30 p.m. prior to the service at the church.

Memorials may be made to West Baptist Church Building Fund, PO Box 38, Burnsville, NC  28714.

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Rev. Thomas Silver > Greenberry Ellis Silver > Anderson M. Silver > Elsa Mae Silver m. Robert Louis Shuford > Jerry Dean Shuford.)



Lawrence Hilliard


     Lawrence Hilliard, age 82, of Micaville, went home to be with the Lord on Friday, December 28, 2007, at the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital. A native of Micaville, he was born to the late Herbert and Ruby (Hall) Hilliard. Along with his parents, he was also preceded in death by a son, Nicky Hilliard; one infant son; and his brother, Bill Hilliard. Lawrence attended Bowditch Union Church and was a Army Veteran having served in World War II.

     Surviving is his wife of 63 years, Marie (Shean) Hilliard; one daughter, Lou Etta Jarrett and husband Eugene, of Micaville; three sons: John Hilliard and wife Diane, of Micaville; Mickey Hilliard  of Micaville; Rickey Hilliard and wife Suzette, of Micaville; one daughter-in-law, Valerie Blevins of Spruce Pine; and one sister, Elizabeth Wyatt and husband Brown, of Micaville. Ten grandchildren, fourteen great grandchildren, several nieces and nephews, and two special friends, Norma Willard and Teresa Smith, also survive.

      Funeral Services will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 30, 2007, in the chapel of Yancey Funeral Service with Rev. Ronnie Whitson and Rev. Billy Mitchell officiating. The family will receive friends from 2 until 4:00 p.m. on Sunday at the funeral home. Burial will be in the Hilliard Family Cemetery. Pallbearers will be: Chris Jarrett, John Hilliard, Shane Hilliard, Shawn Hilliard, Josh Garland, and Billy Silvers.

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Jacob Silver > Edmind Drury Silver > Mary Jane Silver m. William Edward Gouge > Bessie Anneliza Gouge m. L. Zaphen Hall > Ruby Hall m. Herbert Hilliard > Lawrence Hilliard)

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Rachel Silver m. Edward Wilson > Rachel Mary Wilson m. John Gouge > William Edward Gouge m. Mary Jane Silver > Bessie Anneliza Gouge m. L. Zaphen Hall > Ruby Hall m. Herbert Hilliard > Lawrence Hilliard)






Billy Eugene Rathburn, Sr. passed away Wednesday, December 19,2007, at his home surrounded by loving family.  A native of Yancey County, he was the youngest son of the late Bascombe Straley and Ulalah Silver Rathbone.  Billy was an accomplished musician, and headlined many local events throughout Western North Carolina with his country music band, The Buckskins.  He was a regular at the Depot in Marshall, NC, and has many friends there.

He leaves behind his loving wife of 50 years:  Martha Ann Hall; a daughter and her husband:  Cathy and Chris Robertson; a son and his wife:  Billy and Storm Rathburn, Jr.; grandchildren:  Charles and Melissa, Eric and Rachel, Amy & Danny Robertson, and Jeremy and Miranda Calhoun; 11 great grandchildren; and nieces, nephews and wonderful friends.

Funeral services will be held at 2PM Saturday in the Chapel of Holcombe Brothers Funeral Home in Burnsville.  The Rev. Chris Robertson will officiate.  Burial will be in the Atkins-Ledford Cemetery in Pensacola.

The family will receive friends 1 hour prior to the service at the funeral home.

He was under the care of Care Partners Hospice Services for the past year and a half.  Their care made his passing a much more comforting process.

Contributions to help with the family’s expenses can be made either to Holcombe Brothers Funeral Home or to the family.


(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Rev. Thomas Silver > Thomas D.B. Silver > George Tilton Silver > Eulalah Victoria Silver m. Bascomb Straley Rathburn > Billy Eugene Rathburn)



Asheville Citizen-Times, The
20 Dec 2007



MARION – Mr. Melvin B. Silver, 74, of Pleasant Gardens, died peacefully on Wednesday, December 19, 2007.

The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday in Westmoreland Chapel.

The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home.


 (I have no information on this gentleman. Can anyone help me out? Ed.)




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

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