Thursday, December 02, 2010


When I Googled for a connection between Cornelius Dunham and Abiel
Silver, one of the hits was a real find. Abiel and Ednah Hastings Silver's
daughter Ednah Silver had written a book on the American
Swedenborgian church, The History of the New Church in America.
There's a sizeable section in it on her father including pictures of all
three members of the family:

There's also one of their home in Jamaica Plain.

One of the stories Ednah told in her book was of how her father Abiel
lost an arm. He'd cut his hand peeling a piece of fruit and an incompetent
doctor's mistreatment of the wound started a blood infection which
eventually caused the arm to be amputated. Now this fact made me
wonder about Abiel Silver's death: he drowned. How did a one-armed
man end up drowning in the Charles River? I found the answe to that
at Googlebooks, contained in this article from Morning Light, The
New-Church Weekly:

"The Rev. Abiel Silver, chiefly known on this side of the Atlantic as
the author of some popular works, met with a painful end by
on March 27. It is supposed that when the train stopped he imagined
it had entered the station at Boston, instead of which it had halted on
Prison Point Bridge In stepping out it is thought he stepped directly
into the water. His struggles were heard, and a railway man extended
a board toward him, but being exhausted and having only one arm,
Mr. Silver could not clutch it sufficiently long to obtain further
assistance. The Boston Weekly Transcript of March 29 contains 
the following account of him:—

'Mr. Silver was a native of New Hampshire, and was nearly if not quite 
eighty-four years of age. He was formerly an Episcopal clergyman, but 
about thirty years ago he was ordained as a preacher of the 
Swedenborgian faith. He lived for some time in Michigan and Northern 
Indiana, where he was known as Judge Silver. Whilethere he met 
with an accident that rendered necessary the amputation of his 
left arm. He came east and for a while preached in Brooklyn, and
afterward in Hull and the Boston Highlands, for the Society of 
which he afterwards became pastor.When he first went to the 
Highlands the Society was worshipping in a hall, but the present
church edifice at the corner of Regent and Cliff  Streets was 
afterwards built, and Mr. Silver was settled as its pastor. 
Since coming east Mr. Silver has supplied pulpits at many places 
throughout New England, and became widely known. He has also 
preached in New York State and in Wilmington, Del. He has written 
many books and pamphlets on religious topics. Among these were 
books entitled "The Holy Wordin its Own Defence," "The Symbolical
Character of the Holy Scriptures," and "The Philosophy of the Christian
Religion." In personal character he was a quiet and unostentatious but
industrious worker, and did a great deal of good without display.
 He was remarkably strong and rugged for one of such advanced age, 
and took vigorous exercise daily, nearly always preferring to walk 
rather than ride. He leaves a widow and one unmarried daughter.' "


T.K. said...

Well, that's quite a story, Bill. Who would ever have thought a piece of fruit could end up being the root cause of a guy's death many years later?

Bill West said...

It is sort of bizarre, isn't it?
I'll have to post the story of exactly what happened. Ednah Silver's writing is very Victorian era.