Else Cilley Chapter History

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Else Cilley

In 1898, Elizabeth Williams Cilley joined the DAR as a member of Derry's Molly Reid Chapter. That summer, she interested some of her relatives to consider forming a chapter in Nottingham, New Hampshire.

On August 22, 1898, Elizabeth hosted ten ladies at her home in Nottingham Square, where the invited guest was New Hampshire State Regent Georgia Butters Drake Carpenter. Mrs. Carpenter told about the DAR and the work of the society; thus, they were duly organized as a chapter.

Selecting a name for the new chapter seemed quite obvious, as all twelve of the founding members descended from the same maternal ancestor, Else Cilley.

Alice "Else" Rawlins was born in 1701 in Salisbury, Massachusetts, to Benjamin Rawlins, Sr. and Sarah Palmer. In 1724, she married Captain Joseph Cilley, and the family was one of the earliest settlers of Nottingham, New Hampshire about 1727.

Captain Joseph Cilley was the agent for the proprietors of the New Hampshire Grant in Nottingham. General CilleyThe Cilleys initially built a log cabin on Rattlesnake Hill, and later, constructed a larger home nearby. The couple had six children; sons General Joseph Cilley (at right) and Captain Cutting Cilley served in the Revolutionary War. General Cilley led a company of men from Nottingham Square to Cambridge Common in response to 1775's Lexington Alarm. Two of their grandsons also served as soldiers.

The Cilleys were highly regarded in Nottingham and are described in great detail in the Rev. Elliott C. Cogswell's History of Nottingham, Deerfield, and Northwood (1878). Captain Cilley was regarded as a man of "great cheerfulness and generous hospitality, as well as remarkable fearlessness in danger."

Else is described as a "strong, vigorous, healthy woman, of more than ordinary weight, yet quick of step, strong of will, and methodical in her household arrangements. Her home, whether a log cabin or a house two stories high with 'gable windows' was a model of neatness and order from 'turret to foundation stone.' During her life, she drank neither tea nor coffee, nor tasted the intoxicating bowl, nor smoked the ugly pipe, nor snuffed the yellow poison."

Her refusal for tea was especially important during the British tax on tea. Else demonstrated her patriotism by saying, "I am not going to the East Indies for any part of my breakfast."

She was reported as being skillful at designing quilt patterns and her handiwork was sought out amongst the locals. In the year before her death, she rode the Pawtuckaway Mountain on horseback to design a floral pattern quilt for her granddaughter. Else Cilley died in 1801 at age one hundred.

Thus the chapter name was decided. But there was one issue.

How did Mrs. Cilley spell her name? Her name was Alice, but was she called Elsie? And if Elsie, was it spelled Elsie, Elsa, or Else? It was finally decided that the chapter would be Elsa Cilley, but, sometime later the name was changed to Else as it stands today.

Charter Members

Elizabeth Ann Bartlett Jenny Neally Bartlett
Mary Blaisdell Bartlett Elizabeth Barber Batchelder
Sarah Bartlett Brainard Jane Cilley Burley
Harriet Amsden Butler Elizabeth Williams Cilley
Mary Butler Cilley Laura A. Marston
Amanda Stevens Mary True Taylor

Our Former Regents

Elizabeth W. Cilley 1898-1901
Mary True Taylor 1901-1903
Jenny Nealley Bartlett Grinnell 1903-1904
Laura A. Marston 1904-1907
Mary Butler Cilley 1907-1918
Elizabeth W. Cilley Fernald 1918-1948
Elizabeth C. Fernald 1948-1953
Annie Cilley Giles 1953-1955
Bertha A. Trickey 1955-1957
Evelyn Varney Price 1957-1961
Louise Richardson Sawyer 1961-1963
Barbara Louise Guptill 1963-1965
Mary Louise Fernald 1965-1968
Norma Clark Perkins 1968-1971
Barbara Brown Marden 1971-1974
Martha Caswell Bennett 1974-1976
Sarah Potts Voll 1976-1980
Irene Harvey Scribner 1980-1983
Deanna Perkins Rush 1983-1986
Eleanor Hutchinson Ambrose 1986-1989
Alice White Kent 1989-1992
Lynne Perkins Sweet 1992-1995
Deborah Fernald Stevens 1995-1999
Eleanor Hutchinson Ambrose 1999-2001
Barbara Evelyn Jones Frangione 2001-2007
Jan Hetu Gilman 2007-2013
Nancy Hetu Gervino 2013-2016

Real Daughter

The chapter is also proud to have a Real Daughter. A Real Daughter is distinguished because she was the daughter of a Revolutionary War patriot, who became a member of the DAR after it was founded in 1890. New Hampshire is home to twenty-eight Real Daughters, one of who was Maria M. Wilder Ragan.

Maria Wilder was born in Woodstock, Vermont, on August 3, 1817, to Jacob Wilder and Mary Wakefield Wilder. She lived in Chicago, Illinois, in 1896 at the time she applied for membership to the DAR. She later transferred to the Else Cilley Chapter. Maria died on December 28, 1908, and is buried in nearby Durham, New Hampshire.