Last Monday, August 10, was the 89th birthday of Geo. S. Silsby of this city, and the occasion was not overlooked by his friends here. Word had been passed around that a birthday party would be held at the church on that evening. An invitation was extended to the members of the Methodist church, the choir, the Sunday school, the Epworth league and a few invited friends. All assembled at the church at 7 p.m., each family taking two dishes filled with well prepared food. When all had arrived there were stacks of good things to eat. All assembled first in the main auditorium of the church where a brief program was presented. A vocal solo by Mrs. Earl Guizlo was followed by a duet by Mrs. Ralph Murray and Miss Mary Korff. Jay T. Botts, superintendent of the Sunday school, made a brief talk, stating that the purpose of the meeting was to give expression to the esteem which all felt toward Mr. Silsby and to enjoy together a genuine social time. He called attention to Mr. Silsby's rare ability as a choir leader and his faithfulness in that capacity, and his uniform cheerfulness and constant willingness to help in every way possible in the musical department of the church. On behalf of the choir and a few other friends he then presented to Mr. Silsby a beautiful baton.
In accepting the gift, Mr. Silsby made a splendid talk, expressing his appreciation and his gratitude to the people of our city for their kindness and their friendship. It was a touching scene, as he stood erect and appearing the very picture of health the words carrying such a weight of tenderness, of fatherly affection and the rich experiences of many years, suggesting the rich experiences of many years.
The audience then adjourned to the basement for supper and the social hour, Mr. Silsby leading the way. That part of the program was also a great success. Not far from 150 people shared in the supper, which was served cafeteria style.
As the people entered the basement they gazed upon a beautiful sight. Not, only were the tables very prettily decorated, but in a prominent place was a large cake on which were the words, "Geo. S. Silsby - 89 years young." Grouped around it were four other birthday cakes, and distributed over them all were 89 small candles, each burning brightly, all other lights having been temporarily turned off.
As the people, old and young, stood grouped about the tables, all joined in singing, "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow." Many were the expressions of good wishes to Mr. Silsby. In every heart there was the hope that he may live to enjoy many more such happy birthdays.
Mr. Silsby is a native of Maine, having been born in Aurora, that state, on August 10, 1936. He continued to make that state his home until the year 1910, when he came West with the view of benefiting his health, his physician having so advised. He chose to locate in Coldwater, his son-in-law, A. A. White, having come to this city on railroad business shortly before. The change of climate has wonderfully benefited his health, and Mr. Silsby says that he is glad that he took the advice of his old physician.
Mr. Silsby is in many ways a remarkable man. His life has been characterized not only by an unusually long expanse of years, but also by the busy, serene and useful career which was extended over almost four score and ten years. He has never sought what are usually referred to as "high positions" in public life, preferring rather to go out among his fellowmen doing all the good possible and helping to make the world happier and better.
His early education was obtained in the public schools of Maine. He was an apt pupil always displaying those inevitable qualities of success - perseverance, a worthy ambition and high ideals. Although he was never privileged to attend college, he secured from a half brother, who was a very fine educator and scholar, a good knowledge of the essential subjects which form an education. What he learned, he learned well.
He studied telegraphy, and at the age of 18 was holding a responsible position in Great Falls, N. H., and later in Portland, Me. For 16 years he was postmaster at Winterport, Me., and for about 25 years he was engaged in the music business in Bangor, Me. He thus became well known all over the state, and everywhere he had a host of friends.
He was personally acquainted with many of the prominent men and women of this country, and it has been his privilege to see and to hear many great statesmen, orators, musicians, lecturers and authors, all being to him a wonderful source of inspiration and help. Lack of space here makes it impossible to give many of the interesting facts of Mr. Silsby's long and eventful life. In a future article, we shall hope to print what we are compelled here to omit.
Practically all his life Mr. Silsby has been an enthusiast in the subject of music. He early showed a marked degree of talent in that direction, particularly as a director of musical organizations. While, a resident of Bangor, he took part as choir and chorus director in many great musical conventions, jubilees and choruses, some of them of national and international scope. Notable among these were the Peace Jubilees, which were held in Boston in 1869, and again in 1872. Mr. Silsby's daughter, Mrs. A. A. White, is also a musician of much ability.
Since coming to Coldwater Mr. Silsby has done much to develop the musical talent of our city. For several years he has been director of the M. E. choir and in that capacity has been very successful. The gathering at the church on last Monday evening demonstrated that he is esteemed in our community as few men of our city are. He is a fine type of the Christian gentleman, and by the record of his unblemished life, his innate kindness and his optimistic outlook upon life, he draws to himself good friends and holds them.
Mr. Silsby is the oldest man in Coldwater, H. H. Scott, who lives south of town, just outside of the city limits, is about six years older. Henry Baker of Wilmore is just one year younger.
Since coming to Coldwater 15 years ago, Mr. Silsby has devoted his time principally to the real estate and insurance business and to the duties of police judge and justice of the peace. For six consecutive terms he has been elected as judge, and each time practically without opposition. His keen sense of honor, justice and equality is only another of the characteristics which have made him popular and caused him to be trusted by his fellowmen.
Elias Willard Passes Away, The Western Star, April 22, 1921.
Obituary: Mae (Silsby) White, The Western Star, May 22, 1953.
Harvey F. Meyers Shot By Ralph Adkins, The Western Star, May 30, 1924.
Death of Walter Harris Meers, The Western Star, March 11, 1921.
Ed Basey Victim of Fatal Shot, The Western Star, April 13, 1923.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!
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