Chiswell Dabney Langhorne
Chiswell "Chillie" (pronounced 'Shilly') Dabney Langhorne was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in November 1843. He came from a wealthy, slave-owning family; however, the family’s fortune was largely lost during the Civil War.
Langhorne entered the Confederate Army and served with distinction. He was a lieutenant, but in later life was sometimes referred to as "Colonel." Langhorne settled in Danville during the war and served in the ordnance unit that was in charge of the Danville arsenal.
He married Nancy Witcher Keen in 1864 and they had 11 children, three of whom died in infancy.
After the war, Chiswell Langhorne worked in the tobacco auctioneering business and is credited with creating the “auctioneer’s chant” that became a well-known aspect of loose leaf tobacco sales.
In 1881, he moved his family to Richmond, Virginia. Several years later, he began working for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Before long, he built a fortune. By 1892, he purchased the grand mansion, Mirador, in Albemarle County, Virginia. He died in 1919.
While Langhorne’s achievements were great, two of his daughters became internationally famous. Irene Langhorne married artist Charles Dana Gibson and became the model for the Gibson Girl. Nancy Langhorne married Waldorf Astor, Second Viscount Astor. She became the first woman to sit as a Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons.
Danville Historical Society P.O. Box 6 Danville, VA 24543-0006