Chiswell Dabney Langhorne, familiarly known as "Chillie" (pronounced Shillie), was born in Lynchburg, VA, where his father John Scaisbrook Langhorne was a successful businessman.

At the beginning of the Civil War, the elder Langhorne formed his own cavalry unit, but his son chose the infantry. In 1863 when the arsenal opened in Danville, Chillie was assigned there. In 1864 he married Nannie Witcher Keen of nearby Cottage Hill in Pittsylvania County, and the young couple remained in Danville for a number of years.

At the end of the war, faced with poverty and what would soon be a growing family, the hard-working, personable Chillie willingly accepted any available job. One of those jobs led to local acclaim and a place in history. As an auctioneer, Chillie came up with the idea of chanting the auctioneer's call, which revolutionized the way tobacco was sold.

In 1874 after nearly ten years of hard work and perseverance, Chillie was able to build this house for his family. A few years later he moved the family to Richmond, hoping for more opportunities. It took a while for something substantial to come along, but eventually he landed a job as a railroad contractor.  He bought a house in Richmond and an estate, Mirador, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Free of financial worries, Chillie could now enjoy life as both a prominent city dweller and a country gentleman, and he could offer his family a life of luxury.

C. D. Langhorne died in 1919, before his daughter Nancy was elected to Parliament. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. 

Lady Astor (1879 - 1964)

From humble beginnings to international renown - that is the story of Nancy Langhorne Shaw Astor.

The famous woman whom many know only as Lady Astor was born in Danville in what is now the Langhorne House. Nancy grew up in Richmond and at "Mirador," the family estate near Charlottesville. After a childhood of poverty, teen years of plenty, and early womanhood in an unhappy marriage, it seemed to her that her life had ended, with little hope for a fulfilling future. But in 1905 she met Waldorf Astor. With her marriage to Waldorf in 1906, she moved to England and into a world of love, luxury, and opportunity.

In 1910 Waldorf was elected to represent Plymouth in the House of Commons. However, when his father, who was by then a viscount, died in 1919, Waldorf had to leave the Commons and take his father's seat in the House of Lords. Nancy ran for Waldorf's seat, pledging to be an advocate for the people - for women, children, and families. Nancy was elected and became the first woman to be seated in the British Parliament, where she fulfilled her promises.

She held the seat for 25 years.

Irene Langhorne Gibson, the "Gibson Girl"
    1873 - 1956

Beautiful, charming, gentle, caring, civic minded - these are words one might use to describe Irene.

From the time she was a teenager, Irene attracted attention. She played the piano quite well, and her lovely voice was often heard as she sang in charity revues. She was the "belle of the ball," chosen to lead cotillions, not only locally but also in New Orleans, Philadelphia, and New York.

But in those days even a debutante was expected to settle down and marry. After declining 62 proposals of marriage, she said "yes" to the well-know artist and illustrator Charles Dana Gibson. They were married in 1895 in Richmond, and after an extended honeymoon in Europe, they lived in New York, and later also on an island off the coast of Maine.

Irene became Dana's inspiration. Her interests often became those of the women he depicted. The clothes she wore and the way she styled her hair set fashions, and the term "Gibson Girl' came to mean more than a pretty girl in a picture - now it was a person.

Throughout her life Irene was an inspiration to many. She was politically active -marching with the suffragettes, participating in presidential campaigns, and being a convention delegate. She was a strong proponent of education for women and an active participant in many charities.

As Irene's grandson Langhorne Gibson said of her, she "left behind a legacy of kindness and love, strength and passion."