Daughter of Sag Harbor turns 104


When Elsie Fordham Silvey was born, Teddy Roosevelt was president of the United States, Henry Ford had just set the new land-speed record in an automobile traveling 91 mph, the United States bought the narrow strip of Central America that would become the Panama Canal for $10 million, and Albert Einstein was about to publish the series of papers that laid out the theory of relativity.

Ms. Silvey celebrated her 104th birthday last week with family and friends. Other than the last two years at the Hamptons Care Center in Southampton Village and few years as a young child in Connecticut, Ms. Silvey has lived her whole life in Sag Harbor.

The 10th generation of her family to have lived on the East End—there are three more generations following her now—Ms. Silvey is descended from Robert Fordham, a Presbyterian minister who moved to the Southampton Colony in 1648. Shortly after arriving in Southampton Mr. Fordham was accused by Peter Stuyvesant, then the governor of Hempstead, of trying to steal congregants by luring them to the East End. His son, Nathan Fordham, Ms. Silvey’s great-great-great-grandfather, was one of the first English settlers of what would become Sag Harbor.

Ms. Silvey worked for more than 20 years for the Alvin Silver Company in the building that would later become the Bulova Watchcase Factory. Later in life, she became a travel host for the American Association of Retired Persons, leading sightseeing groups of seniors on excursions around the Northeast.

In 1925 she married Daniel Silvey, the grandson of a Portuguese sailor who was shipwrecked off Wainscott and stayed on the East End to be a farmer. The couple had three children.

Ms. Silvey’s daughter, Dolores McNamara, said that her mother was an avid gardener, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and a member of the Columbiettes, the women’s auxiliary to the Knights of Columbus.

Ms. Silvey has 13 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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