Click on photograph to enlarge

Brig. General Jonathan Prince Cilley

Born in 1835, Jonathan Prince Cilley was originally named Prince, his mother's maiden name. After the tragic death of his father, his mother, Deborah, added the name Jonathan in memory of her husband. The childhood nicknamed Prinny, eventually shortened to Prin, was used by the family and friends. 

Because he was only two years old when his father was killed, Prin could not have had any personal memory of his male parent. However, he was so like his father in both temperament and interests, that it is hard to deny his father's influence in his life.

Following the death of his mother in September 1844, only six years after that of his father, Prin and his younger sister, Julia, were brought up by their aunt, Elizabeth Cilley Burley and her husband, Benjamin, in New Hampshire. Prin attended boarding school in New Hampton, NH, and then graduated from Bowdoin College, his father's alma mater. He too studied law and following his admittance to the bar in Maine, he opened a practice in partnership with his close friend, Lysander Hill, in Thomaston, Maine.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Prin raised a company of cavalrymen from the local area and presented them to the officers in Augusta for training. The company was accepted as Company B of the 1st Maine Cavalry, a group that served with great distinction throughout the war. Wounded three times, the first time very seriously, he none-the-less returned to his command each time and remained with the men until the last shot in the war was fired. By its conclusion, Prin had earned and been granted the rank of brevet major general, a position he bore with great dignity throughout his life.

His days were long and full, but they were frequently filled with periods of deep sorrow. He lost his first wife, Carrie, when his two children were very young. Then his son died at the age of twenty-five after graduating from Harvard University and passing the bar to enter his father and grandfather's profession. Prin's second wife, a widow with a grown son, passed away after just a few years of their  marriage. Prin and his stepson opened a law practice together in Rockland, Maine, and remained in partnership until Prin's death in 1920.

In the book, A Breach of Privilege – Cilley Family Letters 1820- 1867, Prin's life, and the lives of many Cilley family members is written about in great detail, most of it in the words of the family members themselves.


Copyright © 1997 Thomaston Historical Society
This web site is provided courtesy of Midcoast Internet Solutions

Web site designed by Catnip Graphics. Please send comments to Last update: May 2011