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Zanard Forest & Captain Joseph Cilley: a bit of Nottingham history

Zanard Forest & Captain Joseph Cilley: a bit of Nottingham history

Zanard Forest & Captain Joseph Cilley

One of SELT’s recent acquisitions is the 65-acre Zanard Forest on Ledge Farm Road in Nottingham.  This property has a rich array of natural resource features including habitat for threatened species.  It also fits in nicely with adjoining SELT conservation lands.  But all that aside, this property has significance in Nottingham history.

Alongside Ledge Farm Road is a lovely granite monument with the inscription:

CAPTAIN JOSEPH AND ELISE CILLEY

CAME FROM NEWBURY MASS IN 1727

AND BUILT A LOG CABIN ON THIS SPOT

ELISE CILLEY CHAPTER D.A.R.

SEPT. 1901

Next to the monument is a shallow depression that presumably is the former log cabin foundation site.   We’ve begun to dig into the history of this family a bit and how it was tied to this land.

Joseph’s grandfather, Thomas Sealy was born in England and was living in Hampton as early as 1638.  Joseph was born in 1701 in Hampton and was married to Elise Rollins in Hampton Falls in 1725.  The deed from Samuel Toppan Junior to Joseph Cilley is dated January 13th, 1729.  At the time, Joseph and Elise were living in Stratham.  Samuel Toppan was from Newbury.

It’s impossible to know what this young couple faced by moving to this location but it must have been daunting.  They already had two young girls by 1728.  Nottingham was one of the first four new towns set out in the New Hampshire “wilderness” by Samuel Shute in 1722.  Somehow they prospered.  Joseph became a captain during the French and Indian War.  It’s not clear if he saw action during that war but his service must have impressed his son Joseph who became a general during the Revolutionary War, one of four from Nottingham.  An interesting article about General Joseph Cilley can be found at this link http://www.seacoastnh.com/framers/cilley.html.

Stay tuned as we learn more about the Cilley family and the Zanard Forest!