April 2008


Written and Published Online by John Silver

w/contributing articles by various Silver cousins



Spring is finally here!


Spring is finally here! Everywhere I look things are becoming green, the bushes are budding and the tulips are up. I know I have complained to the high heavens and told everyone that anyone who stays in Dover for the winter is crazy, but we have had a very mild winter. My new snow blower just sits in the garage looking silly. My lawn tractor is retired since I’ve been told not to ride it by the doctors. But for now, we just have to get through the April showers.

I’ve heard from several friends who have passed on some articles that I think you will enjoy. And, several obituaries, I’m sorry to say.


Cousin John




From Barbara Gregory

“Old Age, I decided, is a gift”


I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometimes despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in the mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don’t agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I’ve aged, I’ve become kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend. I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I don’t need, but looks so avant-garde on my patio, I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 a.m. and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes from the 60s & 70s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love…I will. I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.

I know I am forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody’s beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer you question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I’m still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it.)




And from our good friend, Carolyn Denton


Hi John,

Hope all is well with you up in the frozen tundra. I have a great story for you. I hope you think it’s as funny as I do. My cousin, by marriage, Dusty Rhodes (Yes, that’s his name, sadly passed away 8-9 years ago) found it somewhere while doing genealogy work.

Kindest Regards,
Carolyn Denton.



Pinckney District Chapter, Union County, South Carolina Genealogical Society.




By Robert J. Stevens


When this great nation was locked in the death struggle that was called the Civil War, War Between the States, War of the Rebellion or what we called the Battle of Northern Aggression or various other such names according to where you lived, the South was isolated and blockaded, cutting off the supply of all imported goods. Being an agriculture society, there were few manufacturing or mining enterprises (except for gold) in the South, the Northern or foreign countries supplying most of these necessities, one of which was gunpowder.

Gunpowder, or black powder, is a very simple product to make if the necessary ingredients are available. It consists of only two common chemicals and a nitrite, commonly called nitre or saltpeter. I won’t mention the two common chemicals just in case some budding young terrorist wants to experiment, but in my youth I often made it until my father shut down my “factory” after a near disaster. Black gunpowder is unforgiving in the fact that it explodes without confinement, much like dynamite. The two unnamed ingredients were readily available and plentiful in the South, mined in their natural form in nearly every state. However the nitre was another matter, very scarce, and each Confederate state appointed a Nitre Mining Bureau and a Commissioner to procure it.

One of the more remarkable facts of that period was that even both armies were slaughtering each other on the battlefields, neither side lost their sense of humor. There have been so many incidents of such recorded that I began to collect them years ago. Recently, I discovered what I consider the absolute ultimate, although not in the best taste.

The Alabama Nitre Mining Bureau commissioner was a fellow named John Harrolson, and it appears that Mister Harrolson was getting desperate to find nitre. Someone must have revealed to him that human urine contains nitre because of the following events of public print.

Early in the war, Mr. Harrolson inserted an advertisement in a Selma, Alabama, newspaper.




The ladies of Selma are respectfully requested to preserve the chamber
lye collected about the premises for purposes of making nitre.
A barrel will be sent around daily to collect it.




An unidentified local poet realized the humor in the advertisement and responded with a poem published in the same newspaper a few days later.


John Harrolson! John Harrolson!
Where did you get the notion
To send your barrel ‘round the town
To gather up the lotion?

We thought the girls had work
enough making shirts and kissing,
But you have put the pretty dears
To patriotic pissing.

John Harrolson! John Harrolson!
Do pray invent a neater
And somewhat more modest mode
Of making your saltpeter;

For ‘tis an awful idea, John
Gunpowder and cranky
That when a lady lifts her shift
She’s killing off a Yankee.


It took only a few days to cross the battle lines and fall into the hands of a Yankee humorist poet. He quickly responded and yet another pom was soon published in the same Selma newspaper.


John Harrolson! John Harrolson!
We’ve read in song and story
How women’s tears all through the
Years have moistened fields of glory,

But never was it told before amid
Such scenes of slaughter
Your Southern beauties dried their
Tears and went to making water.

No wonder that your boys are brave
Who couldn’t be a fighter
If every time he fired his gun he
Used his sweetheart’s nitre;

And vice-versa, what would make
A Yankee soldier sadder
Than dodging bullets fired from
A pretty woman’s bladder?


Oddly enough, the source of this bit of humor was found in a college urology textbook by a medical professor and sent to me through my daughter, Chrissy Stevens, his medical student.



And, another of John Silver Harris’ excellent family stories:


Remembering James Gaston Silver Sr.

By John Silver Harris, nephew, 2008


A recent article about U.S. Steel’s Gary Works complex in Indiana brought memories of Uncle James Gaston Silver Sr., who served more than 40 years with U.S. Steel, most of it with the Gary Works.

When he retired,, he had risen to be supervisor of the construction and engineering division of U.S. Steel there—quite a feat for a man who had never gone to an engineering school and as far as I know, had no college at all.

When I was writing our Silver family history, I tried repeatedly to interview Uncle Gaston (as we knew him—elsewhere he was known as Jim), but never succeeded. He would put me off, saying he was busy then but would call back, or that he would write it out and send it to me. He did neither, and what I got on his background was from his then and last wife, Joyce. So I never got to learn as much about him as I would have liked.

When uncle Clarence Silver visited me in Florida in 1989, I asked him how Gaston managed to attain such a high position with one of the largest corporations in the U.S., with no formal schooling in the field.

“He was smart—and a fast learner,” Clarence said. Well, he certainly was.

“Gaston was in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp in the late 1930s and that’s where he learned to string phone lines and got experience in electrical work,” he told me.

As I recall, Gaston wired his parent’s home with electricity several years before the Rural Electric Administration brought power to that area. The power came from a water-powered generator at nearby Clearwater Beach, where Grandpa Lonnie Silver operated a gristmill. And the wiring was rudimentary, consisting of bare bulbs dangling from a ceiling wire in each room.

Gaston and his first wife, Katherine Annis, moved to Maryville, TN, where he worked for Alcoa (Aluminum Corporation of America). During World War II, he joined the Navy and served from 1943 to 1946 as an aviation Electrical instructor at Lake City, Florida. Tough war!!!!

Later, he joined U.S. Steel, working briefly in New Jersey, and then helping construct a rolling mill at Morrisville, PA. During that time he was a frequent visitor at the home of his brother, Clarence, and wife, Grace, Silver in Philadelphia. I remember him being there once when I visited them on my way from Boston (where I worked in the summers) back to Berea College in Kentucky. That was in the early 1950s. He was divorced by this time, and I recall him telling that he was taking dancing lessons.

When the plant in Pennsylvania was completed in 1953, he then transferred to U.S. Steel’s Gary Works in Indiana.

When I was editor of The Advocate, a Kentucky weekly at Barbourville in 1963-64, Granny Silver was visiting Gaston and Delores in Indiana. Gaston called and explained that his time off was limited, and asked that if he drove Granny to our house, could Merlin or I take her on to North Carolina. We agreed, and after a visit with us, Merlin drove her there in our 1950 Dodge.

My then wife, Merlin, and stepsons, Paul and Darryl, and I visited Gaston and his then wife, Delores, at their Indiana home in 1966. We made the trip from Kentucky to Indiana in our recently acquired VW bug.

Gaston and Delores treated us royally. I remember they took us to their favorite “all you can eat” restaurant that featured big platters of fried, buttered frog legs that were delicious—the first I had ever eaten.

They also drove us around the Gary Steel Works, a sprawling industrial complex, stretching for miles (seemingly, anyway).

Although they had a beautiful home, Gaston was planning on building a new one, and was drawing up the blueprint himself.

I also remember that while we were there on a Sunday, he got a call about a problem at the steel plant. He, in turn, called a cohort, saying: John, this is Silver. I need a team of boilermakers right away. Can you help me?” John could—problem solved.

One of Gaston’s prized possessions was a meticulously restored 1930 Model A Ford roadster that he took us riding in. It’s distinctive “catchetta-catchetta” engine rhythm caused heads to turn and people to wave wherever we went.

And he was overhauling a vintage John Deere tractor.

Ten years after our 1966 visit, Gaston and Joyce visited us in Boca Raton, Florida. That was the last time we were to see them.

Gaston died at age 81 on March 26, 2003 at a hospice center in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is buried in Calumet Park Cemetery, Merrilville, Indiana.

Gaston was a seventh generation descendant of our immigrant ancestor, George Silver Sr., via his grandfather John, and great-grandfathers Alfred, Jacob and George Jr.




James Gaston “Jim” Silver Sr., 81, of Portage, Indiana, passed away Wednesday, March 26, 2003 at Horton VNA Hospice Center in Valparaiso.

James was a northwest Indiana resident for approximately 60 years and a World War II veteran serving in the Navy.

Jim retired as supervisor of construction and engineering division of U.S. Steel, Gary Works, with over 40 years of service. He helped organize the Supervisors Club and served as its first President.

He is survived by his wife, Joyce; son James Jr.(Laura) of Lincolnton, NC; daughter, Juanita Carol Silver (Mrs. J.C.) Benfield of Union, SC; seven grandchildren, Timmy and Jimmy III Silver; Julie Carol Benfield Fowler (Jimmy Dean); Jeffrey Curtiss Benfield; Matthew and Anthony Popovich and Christina Stanim; sister, Lennie Silver Harris of Burke County, NC; and stepson, Alex Stanim of Portage, Indiana.

Funeral services were Saturday, March 29, 2003, 11 a.m. at Rees Funeral Home, 600 W. Old Ridge Road, Hobart, Indiana, with Reverend Robert B. Evers officiating. Burial followed at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville, Indiana.

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Rev. Jacob Silver > Alfred Leonard Silver > John Silver > David Alonzo “Lonny” Silver > James Gaston Silver Sr.)



Barbara Gregory just sent the following.


After spending 30 days in intensive care, Wilton Whitlock, has been transferred to a rehab center near Atlanta, Georgia. Wilton has suffered several setbacks. He is still in critical condition but stable. Wilton needs a lot of prayers right now to help him pull through. Also remember Martha and Andrew as they make their daily trip to help him. Sharon and Martha also make many trips to help. They are Wilton’s two sisters.

Thank you for caring.






If you have seen any of the six previously published volumes of this series (edited by Lloyd Bailey, printed by Walsworth Publishing Company), you know what an invaluable resource they are for learning and preserving the history and genealogy of Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey Counties, North Carolina.  One learned researcher has designated them as, "without question the best local history ever published anywhere in the United States."

Now ready for publication is Volume VII, containing 125 articles about soldiers and military activity from the French and Indian War to the period of the Civil War.  (Yes, at least one soldier from that former conflict is buried in the Valley!)  Several large articles on the Cherokee Wars (1750’s-1780’s) contain much information that has never been published.  There are seventy articles about the American Revolution and soldiers.  They include a list of approximately 100 residents of Burke County who were alleged to be supporters of the British Crown who were summoned to court to answer the charge of “high treason.”  Do you know about soldiers in the War of 1812 who fought as far north as the Great Lakes and as far south as Andrew Jackson’s journey to New Orleans?  Do you know about all of the soldiers who died in the War With Mexico?

The volume is fully indexed (dozens of pages, by family and given name), with many of the articles accompanied by copies of pension records and other military forms (most of them full-page).

The Editor is convinced that many readers will find this to be one of the more interesting and valuable volumes in the series!  It will be followed, in the next year or two, by Volumes VIII (Civil War) and IX (from the Spanish American War to the present).


Table of Contents


Map of County Formation

Future Volumes of the Toe River Valley Heritage Series

Modern Map of the Toe River Valley

The Editor


PART ONE: The French and Indian War

PART TWO: Cherokee Indian Wars, 1750’s – 1780’s

PART THREE: The American Revolution

PART FOUR: The War of 1812

PART FIVE: Cherokee Removal, 1838 – 1839

PART SIX: The War With Mexico, 1846-1848

INDEX (by article number)



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Ruby Payne Briggs



Asheville – Ruby Payne Briggs, 93, formerly of the Biltmore area, Asheville, passed away Friday, March 21, 2008, at Autumn Breeze Assisted Living in Gainesville, Ga., where she has resided for the past five years.

She was a member of Biltmore Baptist Church for 57 years.

She is survived by her son, Ted; daughter-in-law, Sharon; and her grandchildren, Kurt and Dianna Briggs.

The family will receive friends from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Monday at Groce Funeral Home on Patton Avenue, followed by a graveside service at 2 p.m. at Ashelawn Gardens at 901 Aiken Road, Asheville. The Rev. Dr. Ian Walker will conduct the graveside service.

The memorial register is available at Obituaries at


[Ed: This is my last remaining aunt from the Payne side of my family.]



Ms. Bessie Parker SilverS Abercrombie



Mrs. Bessie (Parker) Silvers Abercrombie, age 83, of Calhoun, Georgia, departed this life Friday, March 7, 2008 at the Gordon Hospital in Calhoun, Georgia.

Mrs. Abercrombie was born April 14, 1924 in Murray County Georgia, daughter of the late Robert & Ola Junkins Parker.

 She was preceded in death by her sisters, Mildred, Pauline and Geneva Silvers; brothers, J.R. and Bobby Parker. She is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law, Ford and Dianne Silvers of Calhoun and Lawrence and Sandy Silvers of Ranger, Georgia; daughters and sons-in-law, Susan Davis of LaGrange, Georgia, Charlotte and Bert Vaughn of Newport, Kentucky, Kathie Hartley of Calhoun, Deborah Tomlinson and Roger Davis of Calhoun, Sheila and R.L. Callaway of Calhoun, Stella and Ed Tatum of Adairsville, Georgia, Elizabeth and Jordan Tatum of Ranger, Georgia, Shelba and Jackie Marker of Ranger, Georgia, Doris and Buford Blaylock of Calhoun; sisters, Mary Jo Woody and Dorothy Gallman both of Calhoun; brothers, Julian Parker, Herbert Parker of Calhoun, and Eugene Parker of Ranger, Georgia; 30 grandchildren, 48 great-grandchildren, 3 great-great-grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild and 1 great-great-grandchild on the way; special granddaughter Angela Stanley of Calhoun; several nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers will be grandsons; Tracy Tatum, Don Stanley, Derick Silvers, Ashley Silvers, Jon Silvers and Chris Silvers; Honorary Pallbearers will be grandsons Marshal Tatum, Bryon Blaylock, Jeremy Silvers, Scott Talley, Jeff Talley, Caleb Hartley and Dustin Tomlinson. Services to celebrate the life of Mrs. Bessie Abercrombie will be held Monday, March 10, 2008 at 2:00 PM from the Calhoun Chapel of Ponders Funeral Home with Reverend Lawrence Silvers officiating. Interment will follow at the Mt. Carmel Church of Jesus Christ Cemetery. The Family will receive friends at the funeral home after 1:00 PM Sunday.

Thoughts and memories may be shared with the Silvers-Abercrombie family by visiting or website at Arrangements by family owned and operated Ponders Funeral Home of Calhoun, Georgia. Hwy 41 North, Cahoun 706.625.7577 Your SELECTED INDEPENDENT FUNERAL HOME


George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > John Jackson Silver > Levi B. Silver > George Luster Silver > C.L. Silvers m. Bessie Parker.)



Beatrice Rhodes Silver Carmichael



   Mrs. Beatrice Rhodes Carmichael, 86, died Friday morning (February 22, 2008) at her daughter's residence in Kingsland after a brief illness.

She was a native of Wheeler County, but she has lived in Waycross since 1966. She was a devoted and loving homemaker who worked as a welder during World War II in the Brunswick Shipyards, and she was hired as the first female manager for Kentucky Fried Chicken. She was also a member of Sweat Memorial Baptist Church and the V.F.W. Ladies Auxillary.

She was the daughter of the late Cleveland Rhodes and Annie Harrison Owens. She is also preceded in death by her husband, Robert Howard Carmichael; one son, Jimmy Foskey; and two brothers, Billy Rhodes and Leroy Rhodes.

Survivors include her three daughters, Diane Silver Matlin (husband Jay) of Fernandina Beach, FL, Adeline Graham Wiederman (husband Glenn) of Kingsland, and Rhonda Carmichael Lawhorne (husband Grady) of Tampa, FL; three sons, William Donny Silver (wife Cathy) of Blackshear, and Larry Joe Silver (wife Yong) of Tacoma, WA, and Robert Carmichael (wife Bonnie) of Blackshear; 15 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren; three sisters, Lucille Lynn of Fullerton, AL, Mozelle Mulligan of Pensacola, FL, and Ann Mathis of Lakeland, FL; two brothers, Buddy Owens of Delray Beach, FL, and Russell Rhodes of Tallahassee, FL; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Monday (February 25, 2008) at Sweat Memorial Baptist Church. A graveside service will be held 3 p.m. Monday at Beulah Baptist Church Cemetery in Glenwood. The family will receive friends 6 until 8 p.m. Sunday at Music Funeral Home.

Music Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.  Sympathy may be expressed by signing the online registry at


George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > William Griffith Silver > William Riley Silver > William Vance Silver > William Lucas Silver m. Beatrice Rhodes.



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

Barney Kaufman
7408 Lake Drive
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