An American Family
The Story of Chilton House begins alongside our nation in the states of Massachusetts and Virginia, with the Chilton
Family. The Chiltons were adventurers of french descent as far back as time can tell, with one John Chilton sailing with William the Conquerer from France to England, and establishing residence in Kent County, at Chilston Manor.
Two lines of Chiltons immigrated to America, the first all but dying out on the Mayflower in 1620. Mary Chilton, a young
girl whose parents perished on the journey, holds the distinction of being the first settler off the Mayflower to touch land, as she hopped off the boat ahead of the settlers. The Virginia Chiltons arrived in 1660 to Westmoreland County, Va. John Chilton purchased a tract of land from John Gerard, which he called “Currioman”. The estate still stands, nearby the town of Chiltons. John Chilton II lived at Currioman where his grave (pictured left) still marks the spot he passed on in 1726, leaving his estate to John and Thomas Chilton.
Thomas Chilton had 5 sons, Thomas, William, John, Charles and Stephen. These 5 sons would all play roles in the
Revolutionary battles to come, and their offspring would continue to fight for the nation for generations.
Chiltons in the Revolution
William Chilton, who lived in Westmoreland County, was a signer of the earliest act of resistance to the British Stamp
Acts. He inherited Currioman as his elder brother passed without heirs. His son Orrick inherited the estate after him, and his portrait still hangs in the Hunt Room in the basement.
His brother, John Chilton III, served with distinction as the Captain of the 3rd Virginia Regiment from 1775 to his death
at the Battle of Brandywine Sept 11, 1777, along with the rest of the 3rd VA, who sacrificed themselves to save the
American Army. His letters are among the best records of the war, published in the book "They Behaved Like Soldiers" by Michael Cecere.
The Blackwell Family
The Blackwells of Virginia are descended from an ancient English family called “The Merchant Taylors Companey.” This
company was one of the incorporators of the 2nd Virginia Charter. The Virginia Blackwells began with Joseph
Blackwell, who arrived is 1636 as the King’s Surveyor. He lived at Walnut Lodge in Northumberland County, and
played a large role in the development of Virginia. His son, Hon. Samuel Blackwell (1680-1732), was a vestryman and
Justice. Samuel’s son William (1713-1772) was the High Sheriff of Fauquier County.
His daughter Elizabeth married William Edmonds of Fauquier County, a Colonel in the Revolution & The French and Indian War.
Blackwells in the Revolution
Col. Joseph Blackwell (right) is perhaps the
most famous Blackwell of this era. He served in
the Revolution in Capt. John Chilton’s 3rd Va.
Regiment, who was also his son-in-law.
Capt. Thomas Blackwell was Captain of the
10th Va. Regiment, and moved after the war to
Union County, Kentucky, where he received 4,000
acres for his service.
Capt. Samuel Blackwell, Joseph’s son, served
as a Captain and married Elizabeth Tyler, a
cousin of future President John Tyler.
Major Joseph Blackwell served as a major in
the Subsistence Department of the Va line.
General Washington's Doctor
The Horners came to America from Ripon, Yorkshire, England by way of Robert Horner (1718-1773.) He married Ann Brown, a descendent of Charlemagne, who later married Samuel Hanson, brother to John Hanson, First President of the Continental Congress.
His son William Horner (left) was a famous doctor from Maryland, married Mary Edmonds (Daughter of Col. William
Edmonds) and moved to Warrenton. He later served as Sheriff and on the county court, and served as a doctor to
President George Washington later in the General’s life.
A Surgeon at Sea
William’s son, Dr. Gustavus Richard Brown Horner, the first Medical Director of the US Navy and traveler of the world.
Many of the paintings in the house are done by GRB Horner, who was a beloved Warrentonian. He was assistant
surgeon on the US ship Macedonian for two and a half years, and was then transferred to the US Brandywine for six
months. He then was sent to the sloop-of-war John Adams, was promoted to surgeon, and for three years cruised in
the Mediterranean sea. He was then on shore duty until 1841, and went to Brazil on the Delaware, remaining until 1843 as fleet surgeon, and was then sent again to the Mediterranean.
Forbidden Love in the Swedish Court
During the 30 Years War, King Gustavus Adolphus (center right) of Sweden befriended a young man known as Cadet Brown, a scottish soldier who fought under the Swedish Banner. Cadet Brown fell in love with the King’s niece, but their love was forbidden for the boy was not of royal blood.
The two eloped and fled to Scotland after the war, and had a son named Gustavus, named after his uncle the King. In Virginia, the name carried on through Ann Hanson (top right), who named her son Gustavus, and the name continued on through Gustavus Richard Brown Horner, the Commodore.
The baby was given a locket with his mother’s picture, the supposed proof of the link kept secret in the family’s artifacts, which remain here in Chilton House. The locket has yet to be located, but could be found during an inventory of the home and its treasures...
A Military History
The McDonnell Family arrived when Eugene McDonnell immigrated from County Cork, Ireland and married Ann
Chilton of Warrenton. They had 5 Children: Austin, Kathleen, John, Francis, and Edward.
The boys grew up to serve their country in the US Military. John became a Brigadier General & Austin became a Major in the US army, and Edward became a 3-star Vice Admiral in the US Navy.
The Medal of Honor
Edward Orrick McDonnell received the Medal of Honor for his heroism as an Ensign during the United States occupation of Veracruz.
The official citation reads: "For extraordinary heroism in battle, engagements of Vera Cruz, 21 and 22 April 1914. Posted on the roof of the Terminal Hotel and landing, Ens. McDonnell established a signal station there day and night, maintaining communication between troops and ships. At this exposed post he was continually under fire. One man was killed and 3 wounded at his side during the 2 days' fighting. He showed extraordinary heroism and striking courage and maintained his station in the highest degree of efficiency. All signals got through, largely due to his heroic devotion to duty."
Remarkably, he also holds the distinction of being the became the first man to fly an airplane off a battleship when heflew a British-built Sopwith Camel off an overhauled gun turret on the USS Texas. He later had a ship named after him, the Edward McDonnell
Titans of Industry
The Hearsts immigrated to South Carolina in 1766 from Scotland, but the first Hearst to truly make a name for himself was George Hearst, a self made millionaire and a US Senator from California.
His son, William Randolph Hearst, took one newspaper and turned it into the empire it is today, spanning the nation and the world in television, print, radio, and digital media. He played a large role in the politics of the early 20th Century, serving in the House and running for Mayor of NYC and Governor of New York.
William Randolph Hearst II, who met Austine McDonnell while she worked at his paper, won a Pulitzer for his interview with Soviet Premier Nikita Crushchev in 1956. The couple had two sons, William Randolph Hearst III, a successful editor, publisher, & investor and Austin Chilton Augustine Hearst, a successful movie and television producer.
Hearst Castle, San Simeon, is a National Historic Landmark and California Historical Landmark located on the Central Coast of California in the United States. Conceived by William Randolph Hearst, the publishing tycoon, and his architect Julia Morgan, it was built between 1919 and 1947. You can tour it today by booking tickets at www.hearstcastle.org.