James S. Silva family papers
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James S. Silva family papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Silva family.
Creator: Silva, James S., 1832-1918.
Title: James S. Silva family papers
Dates: 1888-1953
Extent: 0.8 cubic feet (1 box, 4 folders)
Identification: MS 2126

Biographical/Historical Note

James S. Silva (November 25, 1832-September 1, 1918) was born in St. Marys, Georgia, the son of Sylvester Silva (a native of one of the Azores Islands) and Elizabeth Hannay Silva (a native of St. Marys, Georgia). James was only 9 years old when his father passed away in 1842. He moved to Savannah in 1849 when he was 17. James Silva served during the Civil War and was a prominent member of the Chatham Artillery. He was also a member of the Confederate Veterans Association, of which he served as treasurer. In addition he belonged to the Masons-Solomon's Lodge, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah. James Silva owned and operated a crockery and glassware business in Savannah. The last location of the business was on the corner of State and Barnard Street. James Silva married Margaret Susan Askew and had two sons; Frank L. Silva and William Silva, and one daughter Mary Silva Teasdale.

Frank Silva (April 15, 1870-November 16, 1955) was reared in Savannah, but moved to New York as a young man. Around 1925 he returned to Savannah and opened a book shop (Silva's Book Shop) located at 115 Whitaker Street. He was active in the Savannah Rifle Association (in which he served two terms as president) and the Francis S. Bartow Camp No. 93, Sons of Confederate Veterans. In 1897 he married Grace Maitland Gillins. They had one son, James Edward and two grandchildren, James Jr. and Grace (Mrs. Robert Cabaniss).

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of papers and materials belonging to or relating to James S. Silva and his son, Frank L. Silva. Dates covered in the collection range from 1888 to 1953. The collection contains James Silva's remembrances of St. Marys and information pertaining Frank Silva's patriotic organizational affiliations.

This collection also contains photographs of Savannah scenes and events. Of special interest in the collection are the photographs of Savannah in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The photographs include images of Savannah, the fire of 1889, and African-Americans in the City Market and on the docks along the Savannah River.

The first photograph album, Frank L. Silva, 1888-1900," contains the following photographs. Quotation marks indicate the original label. "Forsyth Park" statues; fountain; "Water Tower;" "Pulaski Monument;" "Cathedral of St. John's;" "First Presbyterian;" "Jones St.;" "Broughton Street;" "Jasper Monument;" "Father's Store;" "St. John's Church;" "Baptist Church;" "DeSoto Hotel;" "Starting DeSoto Hotel;" "Independent Presbyterian Church and Sunday School;" "After Fire;" Independent Presbyterian Church; "Gordon Monument;" "Christ Church;" "Greene Monument;" "Start of Great Fire, 1889;" "Barnard Street" after fire; "State St." after fire; "Hanley's" after fire; "Guard's Armory" after fire; "Whitaker St." after fire; "Bob;" "Taken by Gaslight;" "Our Room, Mac and Mine;" "Old Times Tybee;" "Switch Back Tybee;" "Forie Flint;" " Bonaventure;" "Sherman's Headquarters;" "Jasper Monument;" "Tybee, Ga.;" "Confederate Monument;" "Pulaski Monument;" "Greene Monument;" "Gordon Monument;" "Savannah River;" "Loading Cotton;" "Post Office;" "New Courthouse;" "Tomochichi Monument;" "Morning News;" "Cotton Exchange;" "Guards New Armory;" "DeSoto Hotel;" "Kansas City, Ocean Steamship Company;" "Cotton Field;" "Bonaventure;" "Fort Pulaski;" and "Naval Stores on Wharfs."

The second photograph album, "Scenes in Savannah, Georgia," is undated; it contains the following photographs: cruising ship; wooden boats; "Making Port;" marsh scene; "Shrimping;" "Thunderbolt looking south" (boat); "Isle of Hope" (boat); "Off White Bluff Road, Sav. Ga.;" (field); "Old Negro Church, Savannah;" marsh scene; "White Bluff Road, Savannah;" "Down in Ga, Savannah;" horse and buggy; Savannah River scene; "Savannah from Exchange;" African Americans in the City Market; "Old City Market;" "Chippewa Square;" marsh scene; "Entrance to Park;" "Confederate Monument;" "Forsyth Park;" "Forsyth Park;" "Independent Church;" pulpit in church; Independent Church; "Inside of Church;" sailboat; "Colonial Cemetery;" unidentified house; "Robert E. Lee" (photo of a painting); unidentified house; "Bonaventure;" the Bluff at Isle of Hope; "Down South;" unidentified house; "Bluff at Isle of Hope;" sailboat; Isle of Hope; sailboat; "Fort Jackson;" "Savannah River;" "Railroad to Tybee" with view of Tybee Lighthouse; "Slave Hut" (Hermitage?); "Slave Hut at Hermitage;" "Hermitage House;" unidentified road; "Entrance to Hermitage;" unidentified building; "Evening in S. C.;" unidentified field; "House over 100 years old, Gifford Homestead, S.C.;" sailboats; "Sunrise on Plantation in S.C.;" sailboat; "Milking Time in S.C.;" African American on dock on River; "The Farm Yard S.C.;" viaduct; "old cotton press in S.C.;" Broughton Street; "Backyard Gifford's (S,C.);" African Americans in City Market; "Plowing Watermelon Patch, S. C.;" African Americans on dock; Savannah River docks; "Among Pines, S. C.;" river scene; "Uncle Sheddy's, Ga.;" Uncle Sheddy's (street scene); 'The Old Ntill Pond;" sloop; "A Pine Forest;" sailing ships; "Mrs. Jue's Branch, Ga.;" boats; "Mrs. Winn's, Guyton, Ga.;" river; "The Branch, Ga.;" boats; brick structure; "Isle of Hope;" boats; grove of trees; boat and docks; sailboat and boy; beach scenes; and boats.

The folders and volumes containing photographs are noted as "VM" (visual materials) in the collection inventory.

Index Terms

African Americans--Georgia.
African Americans--South Carolina.
Bryan, Mary Givens.
Cunningham, Thomas Mayhew, 1869-1953
Gignilliat, Thomas Heyward, 1897-1988.
Letters (correspondence)
Photograph albums.
Savannah (Ga.)
Savannah Volunteer Guards, Inc.
Silva family.
Silva, James S., 1832-1918.
Sons of Confederate Veterans (Organization). Francis Bartow Camp #93 (Savannah, Ga.)

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Material was acquired from Silva family.

Preferred Citation

[item identification], James S. Silva family papers, MS 2126, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the family of James E. Silva through Grace Cabaniss, 1983.


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Georgia Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Division of Library and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Georgia Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.


Encoding funded by a 2012 Documenting Democracy grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Container List




11A series of 25 articles entitled "Early Reminiscences" by Mrs. Mary Givens Bryan that were printed in the Southeast Georgian in 1953. They were reprinted from James Silva's articles that ran in the same newspaper in 1914
2Information pertaining to Francis Bartow Camp No. 93, United Sons of Confederate Veterans. 1903-1904 Roster-printed. 1953 Roster-typed; 1913 Constitution; 1939 Constitution; 1938 Distinguished Service Citation from the Sons of Confederate; Two newspaper articles
3Information pertaining to Savannah Volunteer Guards. Roster-Company C; Letter from Frank Silva to T.M. Cunningham trying to identify members of Company C
4Letter dated march 9, 1954 from Mary Givens Bryan (Director of the Department of Archives and History) to Frank Silva requesting permission to publish his father's writings. Letter dated October 30, 1952 to Frank Silva from Thomas Gignilliat acknowledging the gift of a Chatham Artillery dress uniform to the Telfair Academy
5Miscellaneous. Constitution and By-Laws of the Confederate Veterans' Association, 1911; Article about Savannah Octogenarians, 6/l/1915 (Includes James Silva); Mission News, May 1951; Bethesda News, December 1951; List of Savannah Squares; Fort Brown Plaque Dedication Program, April 26, 1951
6Scrapbook of postcards and Savannah Morning News and Savannah Evening Press clippings of Savannah places and events, No dates.
The only identification is a label on a map of the squares in downtown Savannah that reads "Jimmy Silva, Georgia History, Miss Powers." Subjects covered include: the dedication of the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, Pulaski building demolition, Jeff Davis marker, and Savannah public schools.


1Five unidentified photographs believed to be Savannah Volunteer Guards Victory Drive (circa 1920s); Ruins at St. Marys, Ga. (ca. 1930s); Unidentified


2Dinner Party (circa 1930s); Nine photographs of Savannah Scenes (circa 1920s); Reproduced images of Savannah and Coastal Georgia


3Photograph album labeled: "Frank L. Silva, 1888-1900" Most of the photographs are labeled in white ink


4Photograph album labeled "Scenes in Savannah, Ga", Undated