A Classification of American Wealth
History and genealogy of the wealthy families of America - Sponsors


 Part 1 : Colonial and Mercantile America  Part 2 : America in the Gilded Age
 Part 3 : America in the Twentieth Century  Encyclopedia of American Wealth

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  Part I-Chapter 2 : Planter  Aristocrats  > The Langhornes  :    Previous  1 2 3 - 4   Next

The powerful connections of the Steptoe and Callaway families ensured that the Langhornes, although newcomers from the Tidewater, were met with constant success in the Virginia Piedmont. As the planting of tobacco was no longer as profitable as it had once been, Henry S. Langhorne erected in Lynchburg, the second largest milling firm in Virginia. He never abandoned planting though, and continued to buy numerous plantations in Bedford, Campbell and Amherst Counties. In 1845, he retired and relocated to "Cloverdale", the 3,500-acre Botetourt County plantation he had just purchased from his niece's husband George Plater Tayloe of "Buena Vista". His eldest son John Scarsbrook Langhorne (born 1819) married Sarah Elizabeth Dabney of "Edgemont", a great-granddaughter of William Randolph II of "Chatesworth". He inherited Langhorne Mills, along with the bulk of his father's estate. The second son James Steptoe Langhorne (1822-1905) was given an ample number of slaves and the 13,000-acre "Langdale" plantation located near the border of North Carolina.

John Scarsbrook Langhorne and his wife Sarah Dabney enjoyed their wealth comfortably in Lynchburg. For some time they resided at "Point of Honor", where they became famous for their generous hospitality. The War between the States in 1861 brought great tragedy to the Langhorne family, not the least of which was the death of their young cousin Flora Stuart. The Langhorne's cousin Confederate General Jeb Stuart was a refugee at "Edgemont" when his beloved daughter died.

In 1864, while John and Sarah Langhorne were at "Edgemont", their eldest son and favorite child, Chiswell Dabney Langhorne (1843-1919) married a girl "of good family" : sixteen year old Anne Witcher Keene, daughter of Confederate statesman Elisha Ford Keene of "Cottage Hill". Although the war was looming all around them, wedding festivities for Chiswell Dabney Langhorne and Anne Witcher Keene were held an entire week at Cottage Hill.

Although his wealth had been temporarily lost during the Civil War, John Scarsbrook Langhorne's well established connections, combined with his experience allowed him to restore his businesses in Lynchburg. In the meantime, his son Chiswell Dabney Langhorne recovered renewed his fortune by becoming one of Virginia's foremost railroad tycoons. C.D. Langhorne bought the fabulous country estate "Mirador" in 1892 and returned to the genteel lifestyle of mint juleps and horseback riding that his ancestors had enjoyed for generations. At his death in 1919, Chiswell Dabney Langhorne, in addition to his numerous estates including Mirador and Greenfields, left a trust for his heirs of over 1,000,000 dollars. The daughters that were born to Chiswell Dabney and Anne Keene Langhorne were among the most famous in the world of the wealthy. Irene Langhorne (1873-1956) married Charles Dana Gibson and became his first "Gibson Girl", while Nancy Witcher Langhorne (1879-1964) first married Robert Gould Shaw of the proper Boston Shaws and then William Waldorf Astor jr, a heir to one of Americas largest fortunes.

Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor became the first woman in the English Parliament and was famous for her "Southern Hospitality" at Cliveden Castle. Along with her father and sisters, she reached a level of fame seldom matched at the time. Everytime the Langhorne family attended a New York Debutante Ball, or vacationed at White Sulphur Spring's, it was reported in the New York Times. Nancy's husband William Waldorf Astor jr was one of the richest men in the world when he married Nancy Langhorne, and although the Astor's were far wealthier than the Langhornes in the 20th Century, Nancy's aristocratic background made her very comfortable indeed in her mansion on the Thames. The Langhorne family of Virginia represent the continuity of wealth that was established in the 17th Century, and guided the future of the ruling families of the Old Dominion for three hundred years.

Planter  Aristocrats  > The Langhornes  :    Previous  1 - 2 - 3 - 4  Next

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