Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, Letters, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Your friend and great-aunt by marriage.

After Rev. Joseph Silver died, my grandmother received a letter from his widow:

MC SIlver to H Henderson 2 2 1958_Page_1

MC SIlver to H Henderson 2 2 1958_Page_2

Martha C. Silver is a bit of a mystery. She was born about 1873 in Halifax County to William Hilliard Hawkins (born 1833 to Ambrose and China Harwell Hawkins) and his wife Mary E. Hulin Hawkins (born 1840 to Hilliard and Tabitha Locklear Hulin), both born free. I have found her with her birth family in the 1880 census of Enfield, Halifax County. I lose sight of her, though, until 5 August 1912 when she is listed as Cary Hawkins Henderson in her father’s Halifax County will and then until 16 December 1925, when as “Martha C. Henderson” she married Joseph Aldridge (born 1869), my great-great-great-grandfather John W. Aldridge‘s younger brother.  (I cannot find a marriage license for Martha and any Henderson (much less one related to me).) In the 1930 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County, “Carry” Aldridge is listed with Joseph and his children by his deceased first wife, Louberta Manley. Joseph died in 1934, and I lose Martha again until 8 September 1943 when she married Joseph Silver in Wayne County. He was 86 (and widowed five years previously by the death of my great-great-great-aunt Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver), and she was 70. Martha returned to Halifax County and remained there at least until Rev. Silver died in 1958. Past that, though, I know little, for I have not found her death certificate.


A few years ago, I obtained a copy of a photo of family group from someone who knew only that they were Aldridges. Last year, a cousin confirmed what I had suspected. Eight of the nine people pictured above are Joseph and Louberta M. Aldridge’s children. The ninth? Martha Cary Hawkins Henderson Aldridge Silver, with whom they remained close even after their father’s death. My cousin told me that Martha had children of her own when she married Joseph Aldridge and had gone to live with a son in Washington DC in her latter years. My cousin and her father, Joseph’s son George, visited her regularly until her death at age 100 or older. [Update: on 27 May 2014, Martha’s grandson contacted me and advised that, while she had a son named Charles who lived in New York, Martha had spent her final years with her daughter in DC.]

(By the way, the “Johnnie Aldridge of Dudley” referred to in the letter was Joseph’s nephew, and my great-great-uncle, John J. Aldridge. “Reka” was Reka Aldridge Ashford Morrisey, daughter of Joseph’s brother George W. Aldridge. Luke Morrisey was her husband.)

Hat tip to Patricia Aldridge Polack for her identification of William J.B. Aldridge, Milford Aldridge, Lillie Mae Aldridge, George Mitchell Aldridge and Joseph Leon Aldridge (top) and Daniel W. Aldridge, Allen Aldridge and Mary Eliza Aldridge Sawyer (below).


9 thoughts on “Your friend and great-aunt by marriage.

  1. Stanley O. Roberts says:

    I read the article entitled: Your friend and great-aunt by marriage re: My grandmother Martha Cary Hawkins to Reverend Joseph Silver and was surprised. My nephew contacted me about the article.

    I would like to correct one thing in your article. Martha Cary Hawkins did not have a son who lived in Washington, D.C. She did have a daughter who lived in D.C. Her son, however, named Charles Henderson, lived in Brooklyn, New York. Both of them are now deceased.

    In your picture that accompanied your article, I remember meeting the gentleman in the upper right hand corner, because I recall meeting him up until and after serving in the military between 1957 and 1960. He visited her often when I was a little boy.

    When Grandma Cary passed away she was living with my mother in Washington, DC.

    • Wow! Thanks so much for contacting me, and I’ll correct the post immediately. That part was based on the hazy recollection of a cousin who remembered visiting her as a child. Her father was George Aldridge, who is second from right on the top row. The man you recognize was Rev. Joseph L. Aldridge, a Methodist minister who pastored in New York City, then Dayton OH. I wish I’d asked my grandmother more about her friendship with Martha Hawkins. I was initially surprised to find the letter, as it had never occurred to me that my grandmother’s relationship with Rev. Silver extended past Sarah H. J. Silver’s death. (After all, they were only married 2 1/2 years.) Can you fill in the gaps in Martha’s life, such as her first husband’s first name and whether she ever lived in Wilson (where she married Joseph Aldridge)? Feel free to contact me directly at lyhend at aol dot com. Thanks again! — Lisa H.

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  7. Valerie says:

    Hi Lisa

    Thank you for this, I know these people lol im the granddaughter of Lillie Mae Aldridge-holt, my dad was her youngest son Sean k Holt (both deceased in 1994 and those were her brothers and sisters she spoke about Martha often but I don’t recall specifics.

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