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SILVER THREADS

VOLUME V

ISSUE No II

February 2007

http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~silver/south/newsletter.html

 

Written and Published Online by John Silver

w/contributing articles by various Silver cousins

 


 

A Big Hello! …

 

     … to all our cousins and friends of the Silver family.  I’m hoping that this letter will find you in good health and high spirits.  Winter weather seems to promote the “blahs” in a lot of people including me.  I’m for sunshine and blue skies.  But, we’ll just have to wait the winter out.  Spring is not far in the future.

      This month’s issue contains the next three parts of the story about Margaret Alice Parker Thomas.  Also an article featuring Bea Hensley & Son of Spruce Pine, the famous black smith partners.

     And, it is with a great deal of sadness that we have two obituaries, those being for Louise Jones Silver, wife of Jack William Silver, our contributing writer and Edward Ellis Silver, husband of Sara Silver.  You have our deepest sympathy, Jack and family and Sara and family.

Cousin John

 


 

THE TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF JOHN GOSS

Part THREE of a seven part series
by: TOM RUSHER

                                                                                                                                       

 

Racial violence and intimidation were common throughout the United States in 1923.  In North Carolina alone, on five occasions Governor Cameron Morrison ordered troops from the North Carolina National Guard to North Carolina towns to provide protection for Negro citizens awaiting trial.  On January 25, troops went from Goldsboro to Kinston to protect a Negro, who was on trial in criminal court, from mob violence.  On January 28, troops went from Wilmington to Whiteville to offer protection to a black man on trial.  On November 9, Company M of the National Guard stationed at Wilson was ordered to Nashville to protect a Negro prisoner.  Upon arriving there, the guards learned that the prisoner had been sent to the state prison for safe keeping, which precipitated the unit returning to it base.  On November 30, the same unit was ordered back to Nashville to protect the same prisoner who at that time was being tried in court in Nashville.  On October 20, 1923, troops were sent from North Wilkesboro to meet officials of the state prison at Hickory, North Carolina, and then to proceed with these officials to Bakersville for the purpose of guarding prisoner John Goss.

In addition to ordering troops to guard John Goss during the time of the trial, Governor Morrison had previously ordered troops of the North Carolina National Guard to Spruce Pine to restore order, repatriate the black citizens who had been forced to leave, and for the further purpose of investigating the identity of those who may have been involved in the uprising.

On September 27, 1923, Governor Morrison had ordered Adjutant General, Brigadier General J. Van Metts to Spruce Pine to investigate and report conditions to the governor.

“Rape was a seldom reported crime in Mitchell County in 1923.  Its serious nature and lack of frequency with which it occurred combined with the fact that the assailant was initially unknown probably generated more fear than hatred.”

 

When Metts arrived on September 27, he found a tense, difficult and confrontational situation.  On that very day he ordered units from the 109th Cavalry at Asheville and the 105th Engineers at Morganton to “proceed to Spruce Pine with the least possible delay for the purpose of maintaining law and order, and cooperating with civil authorities of Mitchell County.”  On September 28, the troops started arriving in Spruce Pine.  Initially there were 145 men.  The troops encamped on the south side of the Toe River and fortified that area.  Machine guns were trained on the business section of the town.  Passions were inflames.  On October 1, General Metts ordered even more troops.  On this occasion troops from the 120th Infantry at Concord were ordered to join the others already dispatched.  When this unit joined the others, a total of 250 troops were at the fortification which was popularly known as “Camp Mitchell.”

     The sense of urgency can be observed by one examining the papers of Governor Morrison.  On September 29, Governor Morrison sent General Metts a telegram:

Prison Camp near Spruce Pine must be protected at every cost.  Notify Sheriff of County you are ready to uphold the law and sustain him and protect Negro laborers in their right to work in the county.  If Sheriff will not do his duty in your opinion notify me.  Assemble adequate forces beyond all doubt to uphold the law and protect this State from being overcome by mob.”

Cameron Morrison
Governor of North Carolina

 

     Governor Morrison had received correspondence inordinate in proportion to other crises.  R. Fred Bower, General Manager of the Clinchfield Products Corporation wrote on September 28, 1923: “This corporation has approximately forty-five negro laborers, a good many of them had their families with them, these laborers were all driven from their homes and forced to leave the community because someone committed a crime.  It has been utterly impossible to secure labor in this section to operate our mines therefore it has been necessary for us to bring this labor in, some of the men we had have been with us for a number of years and the writer knows they were reliable and law abiding citizens.”

     The President of P.H. O’Brien Construction Company of Birmingham, Alabama wrote the Chairman of the State Highway Commission on September 27, 1923:  “This evening at three o’clock one hundred and fifty armed men armed with Winchester and shot guns and pistols came on our work in Avery County Project 800 and ordered all our colored labor to leave and get in front of them and march to Spruce Pine, N.C., a distance of five and one half miles; I begged and pleaded with them and told them that our negroes were law abiding citizens and did not go out of our camp at night and absolutely they knew nothing of a rape committed on an old white lady by a negro yesterday in Mitchell County.  I begged with this mob to let our labor alone and told them that negroes were quite law abiding negroes that I brought from Alabama, and they gave me until tomorrow at noon to get them out of the State which I intend to do.  Fifteen of the negroes ran away when they saw the mob coming and we only have between 25 and 30 in the camp tonight as best as I can check them over.  We will not have a man to bridle a mule tomorrow at noon and both of our steam shovels are shut down tonight.  They loaded at Spruce Pine, N.C. today 2 box car loads of negroes and have run them out of here and three more carloads of them went out of Spruce Pine, N.C. today on the passenger train.”

     Once the black residents had vacated the County and the troops began arriving the situation quieted.  General Metts telegraphed the Governor on September 29, “Troops here things quiet at present though atmosphere charged.  Convict camp has not been molested.”  Newspapers in North Carolina were in afrenzy.  Each day front page news reported the events within the county.  When John Goss was arrested in Catawba County, newspapers reported that the Catawba County Sheriff, upon the apprehension of Goss, was concerned that the posse consisting in part of relatives of Mrs. Thomas might be eager to dispense justice for themselves.  Mrs. Thomas’ sons were quoted as saying they were content to let the law run its course, but in the end they wanted to see Goss electrocuted if he was guilty.

     On October 1, 1923, General Metts telegrammed his Commander in Chief, the Governor: “11:15 a.m. Sunday quietness prevails many rumors afloat conditions very unsettled convicts camp quiet with detachment of troops there I have today talked with camp foreman Troops on alert day and night with patrols in the town.”

     General Metts returned to Raleigh during early October and Major E. P. Robinson was the commanding officer over the troops in Mitchell County.  A decision was made to remove the troops on October 10, 1923, but this decision had many dissenters who felt the troops should stay until Goss’ trial.  By ending the occupation, the Governor showed confidence in the local civil authorities and confidence as well in the local population.  This confidence was not misplaced.  Sheriff’s Deputies in Avery and Mitchell Counties were assigned by their superiors to protect black citizens working for particular construction companies.  Mitchell County remained quiet after the troops were gone.

     Violence directed toward African-Americans in Mitchell County which had occurred on September 26 and 27 most probably indicated a fear on the part of the population rather than racial hatred, although that was certainly a part of it.  Most prosecutors have at times observed heinous crimes which have precipitated communal fear and outrage.  In 1967, a missing woman was found dead in a parked car in wooded Madison County.  She had been bound and her death was by strangulation.  During the several days she was missing without explanation and continuing after her body was found a panic swept the community and many dignified women started carrying guns for the first time in their lives.  In Watauga County, citizens organized themselves and paraded announcing their fear for their safety after a woman was abducted from the streets of Boone in 1989.  In such times people often make the wrong choices.

     Rape was a seldom-reported crime in Mitchell County in 1923.  Its serious nature and the lack of frequency with which it occurred combined with the fact that the assailant was unknown probably generated more fear than hatred.  The fact that Mitchell County citizens calmed themselves after the arrest of John Goss and remained that way even after the military returned those blacks who had been forced to leave substantially shows this to be true.

     John Goss, formerly a trusty in the North Carolina Prison System because of his long service without demerits was confined without any liberties from September 30, 1923.  There was an expected howl among many North Carolinians that twice recently a trusty had escaped and committed a serious crime.  There emerged a reasoned argument that a system that conferred liberties upon dangerous prisoners thus allowing them to escape and commit serious crimes must be revised.  Eventually the public sentiment subsided and the trusty system was never rejected.

 


 

THE INVESTIGATION

 

Part FOUR of a seven part series
by: TOM RUSHER

 

 

When John Goss was arrested in Hickory on Saturday, September 29, 1923, he was not then charged with any crime.  In fact no warrant for rape was ever issued in Mitchell County.  Instead, the Solicitor obtained a bill of indictment from the Grand Jury charging this offence.  Goss was a prison escapee and could be taken back in custody without new charges.  On October 1, 1923, Governor Morrison directed General Metts to see if Mrs. Mack Thomas could come to Raleigh at state expense together with her husband “to identify the prisoner charged with assault upon her.  It seems to me a special term of court should be held as quickly as possible.”  On that same day, the Governor telegrammed the Mitchell County Sheriff, “Please consult County Commissioners and let me know if they do not think a special term of court should be called to try John Goss (sic).  As I see this situation this should be done speedily as possible.  Consult the lady assailed and see if she can come here at State’s expense to identify the prisoner.”

     Ordinarily, criminal investigations are in the realm of the county.  The Governor’s intrusion into the county’s responsibility was probably necessary under the circumstances, but these telegrams show North Carolina’s Chief Executive to be eager for a prompt trial even before the victim had had any opportunity to see whether she could recognize the fugitive.  Under the law, as it then existed, the governor had the power to commission Superior Court Judges to hold a term of court as well as to commission Superior Court Judges to hold a term of court as well as to commission special terms of courts.  These powers are currently held by the North Carolina Chief Justice, but in 1923, Governor Morrison would determine when Mitchell County got a special term of court and determine as well who the presiding judge would be.  Governor Morrison early on determined that Judge Thomas B. Finley would be the presiding judge.

     Mrs. Thomas and her husband agreed to travel to Raleigh on October 2, 1923, and upon observing John Goss at the State Prison, Mrs. Thomas identified him as the one who had raped her.  Almost immediately thereafter Governor Morrison ordered a special term of Superior Court to be held in Bakersville on October 22, 1923.  Both Solicitor Johnson J. Hayes and Judge Finley protested this date because it required a cancellation of an existing term of court in Avery County.  Judge Finley proposed a trial during a regular term of Superior Court for Mitchell County on November 12 or a special term on October 29, which would not have interfered with any other term.  Governor Morrison was insistent and on October 25, 1923, sent a telegram to Judge Finley:  “Do hope you and Solicitor will comply with my request about Mitchell Court.  Keeping troops there immensely costly to State.  Absolutely necessary to keep there until court convenes as it now appears.  Please let me hear from you and I hope very much that you and Solicitor Hayes can comply with my request.”  There was nothing said about protecting the rights of the accused, but in 1923 people were less libertarian than in modern times.

     In 1923 the board of county commissioners was the body who summoned jurors.  The Mitchell County Commissioners also had objected to a special term on October 22, 1923.  It is said that during a meeting of President Lincoln and his cabinet, all cabinet members voted nay on one issue which the President favored.  The President stated: “There are several nay votes and one aye. The ayes have it.” Such was the situation in 1923.  Despite objections from the county commissioners, the Judge and the Solicitor, the Governor laid in stone the time of John Goss’ trial — October 22, 1923.  From Spruce Pine, the daily news stories were making front pages throughout North Carolina.  Mrs. Thomas had her photograph appear in a Sunday edition of the Asheville paper.  In a day when we debate whether newspapers should report even the name of a rape victim, the coverage given this lady must be viewed as overwhelming.  Such coverage is pitiless and generally tends to damage victims, but in 1923 it was routine.  Attorney Lloyd Hise Jr. is a descendant of Mrs. Thomas.  Since she lived a very long life anyone coming into contact with her, Mrs. Thomas recalled and usually discussed what had happened to her on September 26, 1923.  Such notoriety generally serves to compound what already was a traumatic and terrifying experience for rape victims.

     On October 22, 1923, the Tri-County Fair began in Spruce Pine but it did so after having deleted Negroes from its labor force.  The town of Spruce Pine adopted two ordinances, one which prohibited the sale of fire arms and ammunition and the second of which required all stores and restaurants to close at 10:00 p.m.  A joint town and county proclamation stated, “no one unusually or dangerously armed openly or concealed would be permitted to enter the town of Spruce Pine.”  This proclamation was stated to be necessary “in view of the riotous conditions due to recent unlawful acts on the part of certain citizens of Mitchell County and Spruce Pine, and the parading of unauthorized armed bodies necessitating the ordering by His Excellency the Governor of North Carolina of state troops into the county.”

     The Tri-County was not well attended, but it provided some opportunity for the military to bolster its relations with the local citizenry.  Members of the cavalry from Buncombe County put on a show and these well-trained horsemen won pleasing reactions from some of the townspeople.  On October 6, 1923, the Raleigh and Observer reported, “Spontaneous applause greeted the demonstration and the ice was broken.  It was a thriller for these mountaineers to see a man ride four horses at a time.  This morning a man went diffidently to the camp of the Asheville lads leading behind him a refractory mare.  She would not be ridden on any account and the owner wanted to know if any of the boys could tame her.  They tamed her but it took off some skin.  The mountaineer was thrilled but not convinced of any reformation on the part of the mare.”

     General Metts ordered a small contingent from the guard unit at Lincolnton to report to Spruce Pine, so the troops from Lincolnton, Concord, Asheville and Morganton were now a part of “Camp Mitchell.”  The military began almost immediately escorting African-Americans who had been forced out back into the community.  They protected these black citizens, but as time wore on, no violent outbreaks occurred.  Good will generally prevailed.

     A Mitchell County Justice of the Peace issued warrants against fourteen Mitchell citizens for committing an unlawful assembly, committing riot and committing conspiracy to unlawfully assemble, riot and commit assaults.  These warrants were issued against those thought to be leaders in the events of September 26 and September 27.  Sheriff R. B. Forbes quickly was able to arrest some of these fourteen men and on October 10, 1923, Justice of the Peace Frank Carr held a probable cause hearing and bound over for trial these cases.  All but two were released on $1000.00 bonds.  The other two were locked in jail.  Mr. J.E. Burleson was a wealthy citizen well known in Mitchell County.  Because of his status he had acquired a friendship with the Governor.  On October 8, 1923, Mr. Burleson wrote the Governor, “What I am writing to you is confidential and my view of the situation with other good citizens.  Now I think these men ought not to escape prosecution, because if they do, they will try the same thing over again … it has hurt the industry there a great deal and it is going to keep men from investing in the mines and all on account of this move.  If these people are prosecuted, this will stop it and anyone can take labor and work in peace, but if not, they will do the same thing again.”

 


 

THE TRIAL

 

Part FIVE of a seven part series
by: TOM RUSHER

 

 

Walter F. White, who was assistant secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, sent a telegram on September 23, 1923, to the Governor of North Carolina. “Press dispatches report that an armed mob of 200 armed citizens of Spruce Pine, North Carolina are today rounding up all male Negroes Spruce Pine and vicinity and deporting them on freight trains because of an alleged attack on an aged white woman.  National Association for Advancement of Colored People is requesting of you regarding correctness of this report and is also asking of you as governor of the state use all power at your command to protect the civil and constitutional rights of colored citizens who are being driven from their homes and jobs regardless of their innocence or guilt.”

The Governor zipped back a curt reply on the same day, “My actions in matter referred to you are being given to Associated Press as quickly as can be done to prevent action of State being known prematurely to the lawless from whom we seek to protect the State. You can get information through the news service as the rest of the public acquire it.”  Governor Morrison was interested in building roads connecting all the county seats of North Carolina.  It was in this capacity that he wanted to be remembered.  Undoubtedly the Governor was irritated at the necessity of having with the forcible removal of an entire ethnic group from Mitchell County, but the brusk way in which the Governor dealt with N.A.A.C.P. is evidence sufficient that the day of concern of human rights had not fully arrived.  Modern Governors surely would be less likely to speak so curtly to such an influential group.  Moreover, when the N.A.A.C.P. spoke of protecting the constitutional rights of colored people, it must be remembered at this time in our history, there had not yet developed the part of the courts or the government of a clear pattern of recognizing such rights.

Sheriff R. C. Forbes was uncertain of his role.  Ordinarily he would have been responsible for the investigation of the crime and the safekeeping of the prisoner, John Goss.  He had seen the Governor make all the decisions.  It was the Governor who had decided to have Mrs. Mack Thomas come to Raleigh to identify the prisoner.  It was the Governor who had decided that the prisoner would be tried on October 22, 1923, and it was the Governor who decided that the presiding judge would be T. B. Finley.  Sheriff Forbes inquired of the Governor, “Shall I come to Raleigh to receive John Goss Negro prisoner for Mitchell County for special term of court.  If so, what day shall I arrive there?”

“Bob Hughes had held elective office in Mitchell County and he has lived long enough to have lots of memories.  He remembers that Goss was the ‘least little man I ever seen.”

 

Governor Morrison had no intentions of trusting John Goss to local authorities.  Goss was taken by prison authorities by train to Hickory and there they met National Guard troops from North Wilkesboro who formed an entourage and accompanied Goss to Toecane.  Bob Hughes has held elective office in Mitchell County and has lived long enough to have a lot of memories.  He remembers that Goss was the “least little man I ever seen.”  Hughes, as a boy was with hundreds of other people who were along the road from Toecane to Bakersville.  Prison records show that Goss stood 5 feet four inches tall and at the time of his admission in 1913, he weighed 145 pounds. The Bakersville fire had left ruins of much of the town.  In the mid-1970s, a young assistant district attorney serving Mitchell County spoke about these events at a civic club in Boone, North Carolina.  An elderly man in the audience volunteered that he had been there in the National Guard.  He stated that he had never then known all the details and enjoyed hearing about the events that had taken place.  He stated that he had never been so frightened as he was that day.

     An estimated 600 people were present in Bakersville.  Goss’ short frame exaggerated the bulk of the chains which were wrapped around him.  He had a collar around his neck.  Armed military troops were everywhere visible.  When he was taken into the Mitchell County Courthouse on October 22, 1923, he had not yet been legally accused of rape and he had no lawyer.  Judge Finley ordered all persons under the age of 16 and all women from the courtroom.  Two venires of jurors were summoned that day.  From the first panel was selected the Grand Jury.  Bakersville attorney S.J. Black was appointed to represent John Goss.  Solicitor Johnson J. Hayes submitted a bill of indictment to the Grand Jury charging John Goss with rape.  Solicitor Hayes as was his practice in all cases signed the bill only with the word, “Hayes.” Judge Finley apprised the grand jurors of the meaning of the charge and advised them in forceful language that they should give their best to their country to aid law enforcement.  He criticized the Ku Klux Klan.  His charge was said to be masterful.  Most judges now conduct their business with less flair and seek to avoid saying anything connoting that they have any type of opinion.  At noon the court recesses and the jurors not selected were excused.

     When the court resumed the jury returned a true bill of indictment and Citizen John Goss was charged with rape.  It had only taken a few minutes for the Grand Jury to return this true bill.  During the morning the Sheriff was directed to summons additional from whose number would be chosen as the trial jury.  Some of the prospective jurors were excused by defendant, John Goss and the State.  Several did not believe in the death penalty.  Some stated that they had formed an opinion relating to the guilt or innocence.  At least one of the jurors stated that he had a prejudice against black people.  About 3:00 p.m. the jury had been selected and impaneled.

“It was during the cross examination of Mrs. Thomas that lawyer Black who represented John Goss revealed his well thought strategy.  His strategy was to ask if Mrs. Thomas could be mistaken in the identification of the defendant...”

 

Three witnesses testified for the State.  Captain J. B. Holloway was the superintendent at the convict camp and he testified that Goss was a prisoner who had gone to work with the road construction crew on the morning of September 26, 1923.  He had not returned and today was the first time since September 26, 1923, he had seen Goss.  Alice Thomas testified that on September 26, 1923, just after 12 o’clock noon she was near Mrs. Melvira Silver’s home approximately ½ miles east of her home.  Goss suddenly confronted her and asked for milk.  Then brandishing a large pocketknife he forced Mrs. Thomas through fear to have sex with him against her will.  It was during cross-examination of Mrs. Silver that lawyer Black representing John Goss revealed his well-thought strategy.  His strategy was to ask if Mrs. Thomas could be mistaken in the identification of defendant to which she responded that she could not be mistaken and that Goss was the man.  Mrs. Melvira Silver testified on this day she had seen the defendant, John Goss at her house a few minutes before the incident.  When asked if John Goss was the one she had seen, she replied, “That’s the jock.”

     Within thirty minutes the evidence was over.  The entire trial lasted only a couple of hours.  In other trials at other times and places lawyers often argued for several hours, but little argument was made at this trial.  After five minutes of deliberation, the jury found Goss guilty of rape.  Judge Finley was ready for sentencing.  In Mitchell County Court Minutes is a worn page showing obvious historic attention.  The jury having returned a verdict of guilty of rape as charged in the Bill of Indictment, and the prisoner, John Goss (colored) being at the Bar of the Court.

     “The judgment of this court is, that the defendant, John Goss (colored) be put to death by electrocution, and to this end, the prisoner, John Goss (colored) is committed to the custody of the Sheriff of Mitchell County, and to be by him, or someone by him lawfully authorized, and another deputy, conveyed to the state’s prison and delivered to the Warden of the Penitentiary, and said John Goss (colored) shall be by him kept securely in the Death Cell until the 30th day of November, 1923, between sunrise and sunset, when the Warden or Deputy Warden (in case of death or disability or absence of the Warden) shall cause to pass through the body of John Goss (colored) a current of electricity of sufficient intensity to cause death, and the application of said current must be continued until the said John Goss (colored) is dead, dead, dead.”

 

Final two segments in next month’s Silver Threads !

 


 

Father and son are masters at work

By Kevin Childers  NEWS-JOURNAL STAFF

 

 

Bea Hensley has hammered out the language of blacksmiths for more than 70 years.  A man with a soft voice and a strong wit, Hensley is a master of a vanishing craft.

Born near the North Carolina-Tennessee in December 1919, Hensley grew up in Yancey County near the old Burnsville forge of Daniel Boone VI, a descendant of the famous frontiersman.  Boone’s forge was irresistible to the young Hensley and at the age of 17, he took on the role of master’s apprentice.

In the 20th century, the art of blacksmithing dramatically changed in the North Carolina mountains and elsewhere.  Much of the old-time mountain blacksmith’s centered on work animals, forging and repairing shoes plus a wide variety of harnesses, carriages, plows and other indispensable agricultural equipment.

 “That was a time,” Hensley says, “when every fork in the road had a grist mill and a blacksmith.”  But, with the arrival of the automobile and the tractor, blacksmiths suffered and chose to find other professions.  Many gave up forging, returning to full-time farming or becoming mechanics or moving to urban areas in search of factory work.

The Boone forge, however, responded to these changing conditions by winning a contract to provide restoration ironwork for Colonial Williamsburg. To fill rapidly growing orders, Boone built a new forge in Spruce Pine just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hensley worked with Boone and eventually finished the restoration ironwork in the 1950s.  During those years, Hensley labored not only as a blacksmith with the Boone forge, but as top foreman with Gunter’s Machine Shop in Spruce Pine.  As World War II ignited America into supplying the war effort upon demand, he engaged himself by assisting mining companies like Feldspar and Tarheel Mica Companies.

Hensley helped Tarheel Mica Company construct some of the first flotation cells in the area that were used to separate the various mined and sought-after minerals of the day, while also repairing worn-out equipment, such as lathes or large driving gears.  Local lumber companies also commissioned Hensley for his ‘smithing ingenuity to produce J-bars and peaveys and in addition to repair locomotive parts.

By 1953, Hensley finally purchased the Boone forge and property near the Parkway and has now come to be recognized as a legendary figure of ornamental, as well as practical ironwork utensils.

Hensley has also made a name for himself around the State for decades by attending events like the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh, the Dixie Classic in Winston Salem and the Craftsman Fair in Asheville.  He has been featured in the Tar Heel Magazine, Southern Living, National Geographic and numerous newspapers around the country.

In 1995, Hensley was honored by President Bill Clinton with a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award.  The same year, he was presented by Western Carolina University Chancellor John Bardo with the university’s Mountain Heritage Award.  The award was in recognition of his life long contributions and exhibitions to the annual Mountain Heritage Day Festival.  Moreover, Hensley was invited to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta to demonstrate the work of an Appalachian blacksmith.

Hensley’s son, Mike, has been attending these festivals and ceremonies with his father as long as he can remember.  Just as Hensley apprenticed with Boone, his son Mike has apprenticed with him.  The two partnered in 1965 and now work along side each other daily.  “I always knew I’d be a blacksmith,” said Mike, “it’s what has interested me.

Over the past years, Mike Hensley has pursued an enormous undertaking – constructing an ornamental gate.  When completed, the gate was in two parts, each eight feet wide and eighteen feet high.  Bea said his son progressed at his own rate and the basis of his talent never needed to be taught.

The Hensley & Son Forge has now become a landmark in Spruce Pine, never sacrificing quality for quantity.  Thousands of visitors from around the world (take a look at their register book) have flocked to the Hensley Forge to be captivated by the skill of two masters.

 “The things I have done in my life I have always thought others could do,” Bea said.  “For me, it’s just always snapped and popped into my mind.”  Nowadays, the elder Hensley is asked to play a catchy tune on his anvil.  The sounds which vibrate from the anvil would remind any listener of the long and honored history of smithing that craftsmen like Bea and Mike Hensley have kept alive.

 

 


 

OBITUARIES

 

Louise Jones Silver

 

Citizen-Times
Asheville, NC
21 January 2007

Asheville - Louise Jones Silver, 76, of Asheville, went to be with the Lord on Friday, Jan. 19, 2007.

Mrs. Silver was one of the founding members of Morningview Baptist Church on Reems Creek Road. She was the valedictorian of her graduating class at Woodfin High School in 1949, and attended Berea College in Kentucky.

Louise was the daughter of Mollie Allison Jones and the late Winfred Jones. She was also preceded in death by her sister, Marvel Johnson and brother, John Carroll Jones.

Surviving, in addition to her mother, are her loving husband of 57 years, Jack W. Silver; son, Patrick G. Silver; daughter, Carolyn Holloway and husband, Ivan; granddaughter, Amanda Holloway; grandson, Josh Holloway; her special sisters-in-law and numerous nieces and nephews who loved her very much.

The funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in the chapel of West Funeral Home, 17 Merrimon Ave., Weaverville, with the Rev. Jerry Kent officiating.

Burial will be in Clark's Chapel Cemetery.

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

Flowers are acceptable and appreciated.

 

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. > Rev. Jacob Silver > Alfred Leonard Silver > Tilman Blalock Silver > George Delbert Silver > Foy Hopson Silver > Jack William Silver m. Bessie Louise Jones.)

 


 

Edward Ellis Silver

 

Edward Ellis Silver of Fall Creek died December 22, 2006 of age related causes.  He was 93.

Edward Silver, as he was known, was born August 30, 1913 in Pensacola, Yancey County, North Carolina, to Jesse Lester and Cletia Ada Allen Silver.  He married Sara Cordell in Greenville, South Carolina on February 16, 1938.  He worked as a contractor and carpenter.

He moved to California in the 1930s returning to North Carolina in the late 1960s.  He moved to Oregon in the early 1980s.

Survivors include his wife Sara; two sons, Richard of Fall Creek, Oregon and David of Bradenton, North Carolina; two daughters, Florence Harshbarger of Altadena, California and Nelda Trabow of Tucson, Arizona; two sisters, Naomi  Manuele of Escondido, California and Louisa Mingus of Ohio; 12 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

No service is planned.  Burial will be in the Springfield Memorial Gardens.  Arrangements were made by Springfield Memorial Gardens Funeral Home.

 

(George Silver Sr. > George Silver Jr. < Rev. Thomas Silver > Thomas D.B. Silver > Jesse Lester Silver > Ellis Edward Silver.)

 


 

!! REMINDER !!

                                                                                                                  

We would again like to ask you not to call or ask Ms. Ruth Silver about gaining entrance to the “Big Church” at Kona for the purpose of examining the artifacts and the ancestry books. The church has been secured for the winter. There is no running water or bathroom facilities. Ms. Ruth is not able to go to the church due to age and the winter weather. As for the books, I will pick them up in January and bring them back to Dover to upgrade them. I hope to have them ready for the July family reunion.  If I can possibly finish them any earlier, they will be returned at that time.  I will announce the completion of the update in Silver Threads. Feel free to contact me as to the status or contents at 302-697-1520 or by e-mail at jsilver73@earthlink.net.  Thank you for your patience.

 


 

John Silver
Genealogist & Editor
64S Fairfield Drive
Dover, DE 19901
302-697-1520
 
jsilver73@earthlink.net

Barney Kaufman
WebMaster
7408 Lake Drive
Manassas, VA 20111-1960
703-368-9018 
BarneyK@erols.com

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