Daniel Gilman Chesley, one of the largest land-owners of Epsom, Merrimack County, was born upon the farm he now occupies, July 2, 1837, son of John and Joanna (Tibbetts) Chesley. The Chesley family is believed to be of English origin; and the great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch was Lemuel Chesley, who resided in Lee, N.H.
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His son, John Chesley, Sr., grandfather of Daniel Gilman, was born in Lee. When a young man he went to Chichester, N.H., where he learned blacksmithing of James Blake. After his marriage he settled in Epsom and continued to work at his trade for some time. He also followed agricultural pursuits quite extensively in this town, and kept a hotel. He died at the age of sixty years. He married Betsey Blake, sister of James Blake, with whom he served his apprenticeship. Betsey Blake was a daughter of Samuel Blake, one of the first settlers of Epsom, who purchased from the Indians a large tract of land near the centre of the town for the paltry sum of ten shillings, and turned in his jack-knife for one shilling of that sum. Samuel Blake, generally called Sergeant Blake, came to Epsom at the age of fifteen; and several years later his father, Lieutenant Blake, moved into town. In the early days the frontier settlers were kept in a state of almost continual alarm by the incursions of the Indians, whose ferocity and cruelty were doubtless very much averted by friendly conciliating conduct on the part of the white inhabitants toward them. This was particularly the case in the course pursued by Sergeant Blake. Being himself a skilful marksman and an expert hunter, evincing traits of character and abilities in their view of the highest order, he soon gained their respect; and by kind treatment he secured their friendship to such a degree that, though they had opportunities, they would not injure him even in time of war. An industrious pioneer, he cleared and improved a good farm, which is now owned by his descendants, Daniel Gilman Chesley and John Augustus Chesley. John and Betsey (Blake) Chesley had a family of six children; namely, John, Samuel M., Betsey, Jonathan S., James B., and Josiah C., none of whom are now living. The death of Mrs. Betsey B. Chesley occurred previous to that of her husband.
John Chesley, Jr., Daniel G. Chesley’s father, was born in Epsom, and was a lifelong resident of this town. In his younger days he was engaged in teaching school: but he later served an apprenticeship at the blacksmith’s trade, and followed it in connection with farming during his active period. He succeeded to the ownership of the Blake homestead, and resided here until his death, which occurred when he was eighty-three years and six months old. His wife, Joanna Tibbetts, whom he married August 21, 1834, was born in Madbury, N.H., daughter of Israel and Susan (Emerson) Tibbetts. Her grandfather on her mother’s side, Smith Emerson, was an officer in the Revolutionary War. His wife was a Thompson. Her grandmother Tibbetts’s maiden name was Joanna Fulchar. Eleven children were born to John and Joanna (Tibbetts) Chesley, and of these three are deceased; namely, Margaret Ann, Ellen Frances, and Etta Oryntha. The eight living are: Almira Blake; Daniel Gilman, the subject of this sketch; John Augustus; Lizzie Joanna; Lydia Addie; Emma Susan; Edward Monroe; and Ellen Frances. Almira Blake Chesley married Alfred Kimball, of Haverhill, Mass., and her children are: Clara Wood, Susie Clarke, Myrtle Lydia, Everett Alfred, and Arthur Russell. Lizzie J. is the wife of Warren Kimball, of Haverhill, Mass., and the mother of Alice Graham, Victor Orange, and Lizzie Wood. Lydia Addie is now Mrs. Charles W. French, of Warrensburg, Ill., and has five children-Herbert, Clara, Laura, Olive, and another whose name is unknown to the present writer. Emma Susan married Orange E. Sackett, resides in Central City, Neb., and has seven children-Lizzie Kimball, Arthur Russell, Dwight, Alton Veasey, Robert McKinley, Hazel, and Mira. Edward M. Chesley married for his first wife Flora Ayer; and by that union there was one child, Etta, who died at the age of four years. His Ella Rugg, of Haverhill, Mass.; and the children by this union are: Charlotte F., Edward G., and Marion. Ellen F. is now the widow of Charles W. Martin, late of Pittsfield, N.H., and has no children. Margaret Ann married Daniel Yeaton, of Epsom. Mrs. Joanna T. Chesley is now residing at the homestead, and has reached the age of nearly eighty-one years. She is a member of the Congregational church.
Daniel Gilman Chesley acquired a good education in schools in his native town, in Pittsfield, and Pembroke. After completing his studies, he engaged in educational work, and taught twenty-nine (mostly winter) terms of school in Illinois and New Hampshire. He eventually settled at the homestead, where he now resides; and he devotes his time and attention to the cultivation of his farm with the same energy and perseverance which characterized his ancestors.
On November 25, 1888, Mr. Chesley married Olive Elnora Sanborn, a daughter of Nathan B. and Ruth (Cousens) Sanborn. Her father was a native of Gilmanton, N.H., the son of Jonathan T. and Hannah (Page) Sanborn; and his mother was the daughter of Andrew and Elizabeth Page, the latter being a cousin of Daniel Webster, and also related to the Greeley family of which Horace Greeley was a member. Ruth Ann Cousens, a native of Kennebunk, Me., was a daughter of Jeremiah M. and Eliza (Kimball) Cousens, the former a soldier in the War of 1812. Olive Elnora Sanborn was born in Thornton, N.H., where her parents, who were industrious farming people, resided for a period of twelve years, removing then to Gilmanton, where they passed the remainder of their days. Nathan B. Sanborn was identified with public affairs, and served as a Selectman in Thornton. He lived to be seventy years old, and his wife to the age of sixty-six. They had a family of seven children, of whom six are now living. Olive E. (Mrs. Chesley) was the third-born. She was educated in the schools of Gilmanton, graduated from Gilmanton Academy, and became a teacher in the public schools, teaching previous to her marriage twenty-eight terms of school in New Hampshire and Maine. She is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. and Mrs. Chesley have three children: Elnora Sanborn, who was born September 1, 1889; Mabel Florence, born September 4, 1893; and John Gilman, born March 29, 1895.
In politics Mr. Chesley is a Democrat. He served as Superintendent of Schools for fifteen years, was a member of the School Board six years, was Chairman of the Board of Selectmen for two years, Town Treasurer four years, and Town Clerk two years. He has also held other offices and is now Auditor. He stands high in the estimation of his fellow-townsmen, who regard him as one of the most upright, conscientious, and worthy of citizens.