The Silvers are of Welsh stock, and a family tradition has it that three brothers came from Wales to New Jersey in Colonial times. Joseph Silver, the grandfather of James R. Silver, was born in New Jersey, and there married his first wife and removed about 1790 to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he remained a short time. He then removed to Warren county, Ohio, to the neighborhood two miles north of Springboro, where he entered land, to which he added until he had 400 acres. This land he improved from the woods, and became a substantial farmer. In his religious belief he was a Friend. The children by his first wife were John and Sarah. The mother of these died on the farm in Ohio, and Mr. Silver married (second) Mary Ferguson, by whom he had: Thomas, David, Martha and Mary (twins), James, Hannah, William and Samuel. Joseph Silver died on his farm at the age of about seventy years.
William Silver, the father of James R., was born June 12, 1803, in Warren county, Ohio, received a common-school education, and was reared on the farm. When about twenty-six or twenty-seven years old he came to Indiana and engaged in a mercantile business in Newcastle, where he continued, also engaging in farming, until 1838. On April 1st of that year he removed to Pendleton, where he located in mercantile business, continuing in that line until 1857, when he turned his business over to his son James. He died in June, 1889, when nearly eighty-six years old. William Silver was an excellent business man, and a substantial citizen, respected by all who knew him. He was the owner of a good farm of 190 acres, north of Pendleton, and some valuable town property. He was an old-line Whig in politics, and was one of the early members of the Masonic fraternity in Pendleton.
William Silver married in Warren county, Ohio, in 1826, Ann W. Robinson, who was born in that county in 1806, daughter of John and Mary (Robinson) Robinson. They had children as follows: James R., Arminta W., Louisa Ann, and three who died young, Mary J., John Q. and William, the last named dying in infancy.
The Robinson family was originally of Scotch stock, but it cannot be determined with accuracy in what year the immediate ancestors of the Robinsons came to this country. Few of the Scotch-Irish entered Pennsylvania earlier than 1714, in which year the tide of emigration had passed beyond the limits of Chester valley and had reached the region of the Susquehanna. The genealogy of the family, from the record by Thomas H. Robinson, is as follows: A branch of the family emigrated from Scotland to the North of Ireland during the reign of James. I. They were Presbyterians, and were severely persecuted during the reign of Charles I, and among the earliest Scotch-Irish who settled in Pennsylvania — prior to 1730 - was Thomas Robinson, with his family. He was already an old man, and died about 1740.
(I) Thomas Robinson, whose wife’s name is not known, had these children: Philip, born in 1698, who died in 1770; Andrew, born in 1700, who married Agnes Boal, and died in 1797; William; Christiana, born in 1702, who married Thomas Muirhead, and died in 1765; Richard, who died in 1768; Samuel; and Thomas. The place of burial of Thomas Robinson is unknown. It is believed that he came from Derry, Ireland, and it is also thought, from the numerous Robinsons scattered over the country, that with Thomas came brothers and other relatives. The traits of person and character, and the persistence of family names, indicate nearness of origin. Thomas Robinson settled in Hanover, Dauphin Co., Pa. The region in which he settled can hardly be surpassed by any part of the country for its natural advantages and beauty of scenery. It possessed peculiar attractions for the hardy and adventurous settlers, and it was a favorite hunting ground of the Indians. Families generally united in forming settlements, placing their residences sufficiently near each other to form social neighborhoods, to meet for purposes of religious worship, to give each other help in farming, and to protect each other should danger arise from the savage who lurked in the forests of the region. The homes of the settlers were distributed here and there, scattered over a wide space. They were an adventurous people, and risked many perils in fixing the location of their homes.
(II) Philip Robinson, son of Thomas, married and had this family (his wife’s name is unknown): Samuel, born in 1720, married Jean Snoddy, and died Nov. 15, 1807; Thomas, who married Jean Hay, was born in 1725, and died in 1780; George, born in 1727, married (first) Ann Wiley and (second) Mary Martin, and died in 1814; Agnes, born in 1730, married Robert Robinson, and died Dec. 22, 1792; Sarah, born in 1732, married Robert Thompson; Mary, born in 1734, married Samuel Elder; Joseph was born in 1736; and John. Philip Robinson, son of Thomas, was born in 1698, in the North of Ireland, and came to the Province of Pennsylvania before 1730. His name appears on the first tax list of the township of Hanover, Lancaster (now Dauphin) county. His father had first settled near Conewago creek, farther east. Mr. Robinson, with his family, and one or more of his brothers, settled on Manada creek, near the Gap of the same name in the Kittochtinny mountains. During the Indian wars, 1755-1763, there was a fort on his farm for defense against the savage, and for the protection of the settlers of the section in times of invasion. Philip Robinson’s sons were already grown men, for in 1755 Governor Morris addressed a letter to Samuel Robinson, and sent with it one hundred pounds of powder, to be used by the inhabitants of Hanover "in defense of themselves and their country." Besides their farm the Robinsons had built a mill at the mouth of the Gap on the Manada, and furnished supplies to the Government during the Indian and Revolutionary wars. The Robinsons of Hanover were members of the Presbyterian congregation under the ministry of its first pastor, Rev. Richard Sankey.
(III) Samuel Robinson, son of Philip, married Jean Snoddy Sept. 23, 1761. She died in 1768, and he married (second), in 1769, Mrs. Letitia Montgomery, who died July 18, 1822. Samuel Robinson had children as follows: Polly, born Aug. 3, 1762, who married Alexander Woods, and died Aug. 15, 1828; Joseph, born May 6, 1764, who was drowned with his mother in 1768, while crossing the James river; John Snoddy, born Oct, 12, 1766, who married Mary Robinson; Matthew; Samuel, born in 1773; and Thomas. Samuel Robinson left a large number of descendants, who may be found chiefly in Ohio, Indiana and California.
(IV) John Snoddy Robinson married Mary Robinson, who was born Sept. 19, 1774, and died June 11, 1843. Her line was Jonathan (4), George (3), Philip (2) and Thomas (1), she being of the same stock as her husband. John Snoddy Robinson was a pioneer of Springboro, Ohio, where he cleared up a farm of 340 acres from the woods, and there died March 23, 1843. Children as follows were born to him and his wife: Jonathan, born Dec. 25, 1797, was a merchant, and died Dec. 14, 1848, at Pendleton, Ind.; Jean Snoddy, born Nov. 9, 1799, married M. Ward, and died in 1890; Samuel, born in 1802, died in June, 1812; James, born in 1803, died Aug. 21, 1822; Ann Wiley, born Jan. 12, 1806, married William Silver, and died May 13, 1850; Harvey, born in 1808, died Aug. 13, 1822; Thomas Black, born March 28, 1810, died March 29, 1852, married Sarah Hudson; Newton, born May 1, 1812, died March 15, 1876, married Hannah, Silver; Maria Louisa, born in 1814, died the same year; and Maria Louisa (2), born July 12, 1816, married James V. Wayman, and died March 15, 1903.
Jonathan Robinson, father of Mary Robinson who married John Snoddy Robinson, was born in Hanover township, Dauphin Co., Pa., but in early life was taken to Perry county, where he grew to manhood. He married Jean Black, a sister of John Black, husband of Mr. Robinson’s sister Mary, and the daughter of Hon. James Black, a farmer of Sherman Valley, Pa., who was for some years associate judge and a member of Congress. Removing to Kentucky in 1785 Mr. Robinson purchased land near Georgetown, and erected a house which was still standing in 1891, a fine relic of the olden times, with its massive chimneys, spacious fireplaces and hearths, and there Mr. Robinson resided until his death, in 1834. The home afterward became the residence of his son, James F. Robinson, governor of Kentucky. The family embraced twelve children, five of whom died unnamed.
During the Revolutionary war Jonathan Robinson was captain of the 4th Battalion of Cumberland county infantry, and was in service about six years, receiving his commission from the executive council of Pennsylvania. He entered the service of the United States, during the war of the Revolution, first as a captain of volunteers, in November, 1776. He marched through Cumberland county, Pa., through Carlisle, Lancaster and Philadelphia, to Princeton, N. J., and was employed in scouting expeditions, and as a guard against the invasions of the British army, which then lay at New Brunswick. At one time he was on an expedition with 100 men, under the command of Colonel Bohanan, to intercept the provisions of the British army, passing on the Raritan river to New Brunswick; they accordingly made the attack, and fired upon five small vessels of the enemy without effect; and during the skirmish one of his men was wounded and others injured. He was in the battle of Brandywine, Del., and in the ensuing winter was ordered to the camp of General Lacy, at Chemung Bridge, over the Chemung creek. In joining General Lacy’s camp Captain Robinson passed the camp of General Washington, which was then at Valley Forge. He was also in the battle of Paoli, at which his lieutenant, James Arbuckle, and his ensign, Samuel Arbuckle, together with five men, were killed. Captain Robinson was in this service from May, 1776, until June, 1777, at which time he was commissioned captain of a company of foot in the 4th Battalion of militia of Cumberland county, Pa. Under this commission he served five tours of duty, two of six months and three of three months each, in the summer and fall of the years 1779, 1780, and 1782. In 1785 Captain Robinson went to Kentucky and purchased a farm of 600 acres in Scott county, upon which he erected cabins, in the spring of 1786 he returned to Pennsylvania and took his family back with him to Kentucky. There he continued to reside, one of the wealthiest and most influential citizens of the State, passing away at the ripe old age of eighty-six years, greatly respected and beloved. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and a very religious man. In one of his letters, written in 1814, still preserved, he gives a very interesting description of the great religious movements of that day, extending in various forms from 1800 onward for fifteen or twenty years.
Captain Jonathan Robinson was the son of George Robinson, whose birthplace is unknown. It was probably in the North of Ireland. His early boyhood and youth were spent at the home farm in Hanover township, at Manada Gap, a few miles from Harrisburg. In about 1755, some years after his marriage to Ann Wiley, he settled in Cumberland (now Perry) county, west of the mountains and the Susquehanna river, at the head of Sherman creek. With other pioneers of that region he was soon called upon to bear the brunt of the Indian wars, and was driven from his home in hurried flight across the mountains. He was a farmer, and upon his farm was built a fort for the protection of the settlers of the region, known in Colonial history as "Governor Robinson’s Fort." The inhabitants of the valley frequently fled to it for safety. Mr. Robinson was commissioned a justice of the peace by the proprietary government under George III, and he also served in the army of the Revolution, although then a man advanced in years. The musket he carried has been preserved, and is in the possession of his great-grandson, Rev. N. H. Robinson. In 1797 George Robinson removed to Kentucky, whither eight of his children had preceded him. He settled a few miles from Lexington, and remained there until his death, March 6, 1814, in the eighty-seventh year of his age. In religion he was a Presbyterian, a ruling elder in the Centre Church in Pennsylvania, and after removing to Kentucky was an elder in the Bethel Presbyterian Church of Scott county. Judge Robinson was six feet in height, perfect in person, and remarkably active and strong. He was a good English scholar, was very fond of reading, especially of works on law, ethics and the philosophy of the mind, some of his favorites being "Blackstone’s Commentaries," "Locke on Government," "Hume’s History of England," "Stewart’s Philosophy," and the Spectator.
At an early date the Robinsons intermarried in Lancaster county, Pa., with the Crawfords, Logans, McCords, Blacks, Martins, Muirheads and Blames, and members of many of these families as well as the Robinsons served in the Revolutionary war. Col. Ephraim Blaine, the grandfather of James G. Blame, of Maine was a Revolutionary officer of distinction. Many from these families were with Benedict Arnold on his march to Quebec, and the majority were captured there, while a large number of them died from hardships and wounds. Capt. Thomas Robinson commanded a company under Colonel (afterward General) Wayne at Ticonderoga in 1776; he was wounded in the battle of Brandywine, while serving as a major. The first regiment to reach Boston after the battle of Bunker Hill from the south of the Hudson was the 1st Rifle Regiment from Pennsylvania, 900 strong; ten of these were from Lancaster county, Pa., and ten from Cumberland county, the muster-roll showing that most of them were Scotch-Irish. They marched four hundred miles to the relief of Boston. The first regiment of the United Colonies, commanded by Gen. George Washington, is described as composed of remarkably stout and hardy men, many of them exceeding six feet in height.
James Robinson Silver, the subject of this sketch, was an infant of about one and one-half years when brought by his parents to Newcastle, Ind., and was about ten years old when his father removed to Pendleton. He attended the public schools of Newcastle and Pendleton, gaining a common education, and began to work when fifteen years old. He married, May 20, 1851, when aged twenty-four years, in Springboro, Ohio, Amanda E. Gregg, who was born in Warren county, Ohio, on her father’s farm, May 3, 1833, daughter of William, and Susanna (Millard) Gregg, of Scotch-Irish stock.
James R. Silver engaged in a mercantile business in Pendleton, his father, as before stated, having turned over the business to him in about 1851. Mr. Silver was a successful merchant for years, standing high in his community. He is a property owner, having 240 acres of fine farm land, besides his pleasant residence, and other valuable property. Of the children born to Mr. and Mrs. James R. Silver the following have lived to maturity: William Gregg, born Sept. 17, 1853; Harry Lee, born Dec. 15, 1863; Della Alvora, born Jan. 7, 1866; and Arthur Millard, born Jan. 1, 1871. There were two who died young: Dora M., born Feb. 22, 1857, who died Sept. 5, 1863; and Minnie B., born Jan. 25, 1863, who died Aug. 22, 1863. Of this family William Gregg married Elizabeth Clark, and they reside in Pendleton; their children are as follows: Donna Blanche, born June 17, 1877, and Alvora, born Aug. 10, 1879. Harry Lee married Lettie Taylor, and they reside in Indianapolis; their children are Herbert, born Nov. 7, 1891, and Ralph, born Jan. 1, 1895. Della Alvora married Charles Cokefair, and they reside at Eaton, Ohio. Arthur Millard is a young man at home.
Mr. and Mrs. James R. Silver celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage on May 20, 1901, and on May 20, 1906, celebrated the fifty-fifth anniversary. They are ranked among the most worthy pioneers of Pendleton. Mrs. Silver has been a member of the Universalist Church for fifty years. Mr. Silver is very liberal on religious questions. They have been supporters of the Universalist Church at Pendleton, really the main supporters, having assisted to build both the old and the new Universalist churches there. Mr. Silver joined the Masonic fraternity of Pendleton in 1850-51 and has held nearly all the offices in the subordinate lodge. He is the oldest member of the blue lodge now living in Pendleton, having joined prior to 1855. He has served several times as master, and has been high priest and head of the council. He is a member of the Knights Templars at Knightstown, Ind., and was one of the charter members of the Anderson Commandery. In politics Mr. Silver is a Republican, and he voted for John C. Fremont, the first Republican Presidential candidate, and also for Abraham Lincoln, and has supported every Republican candidate for the Presidency since. He was first an old-line Whig and voted for Gen. Winfield Scott.
The Gregg family, of which Mrs. James R. Silver is a member, is of Scotch stock, and emigrated to Ireland and thence to America, where they were called Scotch-Irish. William Gregg, the father of Mrs. Silver, always said that there were seven Greggs who came from Ireland and that they were the founders of all the old Gregg families in America that he ever heard of. They settled in different States and later spread over the entire United States. The first of the name of whom we have any record is Samuel Gregg, the grandfather of Mrs. Silver, who was born in Loudoun county, Va., May 4, 1773. He married Nancy O’Brien, who was born June 28, 1775. He died July 30, 1844, and she died Oct. 10, 1844. Their children were: Rebecca, born June 15, 1797, who died Sept. 23, 1867; William, born Oct. 28, 1798; Alpheus, born Jan. 23, 1801; Aaron, born Jan. 23, 1803; Samuel, Jr., born Nov. 15, 1804, who died Oct. 2, 1844; Nancy, born Aug. 7, 1806; Robert, born April 4, 1808; Hiram, born Dec. 24,, 1810; Israel, born Nov. 19, 1812; Amanda, born. Nov. 23, 1814; Elizabeth, born March 10, 1817; and Cynthia, born Oct. 24, 1821. Of the foregoing John and Amanda died unmarried and the rest became heads of families. All are now (1906) deceased.
Samuel Gregg, the pioneer, was about twenty-three years old when he first came to Ohio, in 1796, at which time the State was almost an entire wilderness. When he brought his wife and two children, they slept in the wagon until he had cleared a place on which to build a log cabin. Cincinnati was forty miles away, and he took his corn there to mill, a sack at a time, on the back of a horse, during the days of his first settlement; he was obliged to blaze a trail part of the way so he could find his way back. There were then in Cincinnati but very few people. At one time while Samuel Gregg was on one of these trips to Cincinnati Mrs. Gregg went to the sugar camp, a short distance from the cabin. She heard a sound in the forest like the wailing of a child and hurried to the cabin with her children. She could hear some large animal following her and crying through the woods, and she slept but little that night, alone with her children in the cabin. The next morning a neighbor who had heard the wailing shot and killed a very large panther from a tree overlooking the humble home. Samuel Gregg was inured to hard labor and toil, and was thus able to cope successfully with the hard life which was the common lot of the frontier settlers. In his day game was very abundant and he was a mighty hunter, killing, at different times, according to tradition, thirty-six deer. He tanned their skins for clothing, etc., for at that early day the families of the settlers made all their own clothing, having their own looms to weave their cloth.
William Gregg, the father of Mrs. Silver, was the second child and first son of Samuel Gregg, who emigrated from western Pennsylvania to Columbia, above Cincinnati, near the mouth of the Little Miami river. They located in Deersfield, Warren county, where William Gregg was born Oct. 28, 1798. Samuel entered a tract of land in Clear Creek township, where he built a log cabin into which he moved. The structure was without floor, window or chimney, or chinks. A doorway was made in one side by cutting out the logs. Here William was reared and in this vicinity passed his life. A dense forest covered the country, and his father had to make the road from his cabin to the schoolhouse by blazing the trees in order that the children might not get lost in the woods. The schoolhouse was also built of logs, with greased paper windows and puncheon floor, with seats of the same material. On Dec. 12, 1822, William Gregg married Susanna Millard, daughter of Mordecai and Catherine Millard, the latter born in Berks county, Pa., April 7, 1803, Mr. and Mrs. Gregg had a large family of children, most of them, however, dying in infancy. He was reared and instructed in the doctrines and discipline of the Society of Friends, but about 1840 he became a Universalist. He was one of the first to form a society in Springboro for the building of a Universalist church. Children were born to William and Susanna (Millard) Gregg as follows: Rebecca, born Feb. 14, 1824, died Aug. 20, 1828; Ann J., born Aug. 8, 1831, died Feb. 20, 1836; Amanda E. was born May 3, 1833; Jonah was born Sept. 6, 1836; Catherine, born Jan. 10, 1839, died unmarried in 1860; William H., born Nov. 14, 1840, died Oct. 10, 1864; George W., born Dec. io, 1843, died July 10, 1864; James A. was born Feb. 25, 1846; Emelime and Adaline, twins, were born March 9, 1848, and Emeline died Sept. 30, 1848. Of these the son William H. Gregg served in the war of the Rebellion, and was killed near Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 10, 1864, by the guerrillas, while carrying dispatches from Colonel Smith at Chattahoochie river railroad bridge to Colonel Dustin of Atlanta. Another son, George W., also served in the Civil war, and died in the service at Fayetteville, W. Va., July 11, 1864.
William Gregg served as justice of the peace six years with such judgment and ability that but one case was appealed to the higher courts, and in that instance Gregg’s decision was sustained. He died March 1, 1879, aged eighty years. He was a man of high character and much business ability, and by his frugality and thrift amassed a fortune of about $40,000.
The Millard family from which Mrs. Silver is descended on the maternal side is traced back to Mordecai Millard, her great-grandfather, who was born in Pennsylvania June 24, 1736. He married Frances Lincoln, who was born June 22, 1741, in the same State, and their children were: Samuel, born May 7, 1760; Joseph, March 31, 1763; Hannah, July 13, 1765; Jane, June 6, 1768; Elizabeth, Feb. 6, 1770; Benjamin, Feb. 28, 1772; Mordecai, March 31, 1774; Thomas, March 25, 1776; James, April 11, 1778; Jonathan, Aug. 28, 1781; and Samuel, Feb. 17, 1784.
Mordecai Millard, Jr., son of Mordecai, and the grandfather of Mrs. James R. Silver, was born in Pennsylvania March 31, 1774, and died March 9, 1851, in Indiana. He married Catherine Evans, a native of Pennsylvania, and they came to Ohio in August, 1817, settling near Springboro, Warren county. Here Mr. Millard built a saw and grist mill in about 1818, and conducted this business about thirty years. Mrs. Millard died in February, 1849 aged seventy-seven years. Their children were: Mary, born Aug. 23, 1796, married John Heirgood; Thomas, born Sept. 2, 1798, was married twice and lived in Iowa; Frances, born Oct. 18, 1800, married Elisha Cockefair; Susanna, born April 7, 1803, married William Gregg; Elizabeth, born June 20, 1805, married Aaron Gregg; Catherine, born Oct. 2, 1807, died unmarried; Rebecca, born Nov. 13, 1809, died unmarried; Hannah and Margaret (twins), born Feb. 23, 1812, both died young.
Stella Courtright Stimson was born September 15, 1862 to Sarah and Calvin W. Courtright in Oxford, Ohio where her parents attended college. Stella was the first child of 15 and before she was fifteen years old, she saw four of her siblings die from disease and accident. She was especially close to her sister, Kitty, and throughout their lives the two were more guardians than sisters to their surviving siblings. The girls helped to raise all the children who came after them; Stella delayed her college education at Wellesley in Philadelphia to help out at home. Still, she attended Wellesley from 1882-84 and taught there as well. She taught in McConnellsville, Ohio, where her family lived; there she met and married Charles Miller Davis in 1886. She lived with him and their son, Miller, in Wichita, Kansas and in Colorado. A second child, Dorothy, died in 1892 when her brother was five. Her birth date is unknown at this writing but the following year, Charles Miller Davis died as well and these losses left their mark on Stella for the rest of her life.
Stella went for a time to Chicago, where she and her sister ran their own school for primary through high school aged children but in 1894 she took a position teaching Latin at Coates College in Terre Haute, Indiana, where she met and married Judge Samuel Cary Stimson in September, 1897. Two months later she saved the life of a window-display artist who caught fire as the largest store in Terre Haute burned to the ground, the worst fire disaster in the history of Terre Haute. She wrapped him in her coat as her ll-year-old son looked on in terror.
This life-saving instinct in Stella was second nature. Having seen what she had seen in her young life, she had a great desire to break the cycle of poverty, pregnancy and abuse suffered by so many American women and children. After the births of her two children, Stuart Courtright and Margaret Elizabeth, Stella became “a potent force in the Legislative Council of Indiana Women”. (Terre Haute Tribune, 3/7/99) In 1912 she organized an effort with a few other women to watch the polls in a hotly contested Mayoralty election where they recorded so many people voting twice that the Mayor of Terre Haute was recalled (Chicago Daily News, 11/27/57)
Stella was President of the Florence Crittenton Board in 1912 and wrote an influential article outlining a project that made sex education “available through parent-teacher clubs and social centers of the schools, YMCA and YWCA at Indiana State Normal School.” Stella was a National Treasurer of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and a member of the Indiana League of Women Voters. Her daughter, Margaret Huddlestun of Indianapolis said about her that her “Mother was always busy at something,” and that something had usually to do with educating and improving the lives of poor women and children. She was a charter member of the Woman’s Press Club of Indiana in 1913, a leader of the first Boys Club and the head of the first business girl’s club. She taught the boys’ class at the Washington Avenue Presbyterian Church for years. She was the first woman to be elected to the Terre Haute Board of School Trustees.
Stella Courtright Stimson died July 28, 1964 at the age of 101, having traveled to the West Coast twice and to Europe at least once. She was skilled in Latin and Greek and taught her daughter, Margaret, both languages at home. Like her father and her sister, Kitty, Stella was an avid gardener; she worked her own sizable garden herself until she was quite old. She was one of a small army of American women who, by her own sheer determination, shaped the lives of women who came after her.
By Eleanor Pelcyger, Los Angeles, 1999