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William Edwin Chilton (1858-1939) Papers

Collection Number: A&M 1652

Scope and Content

Papers of William Edwin Chilton (1858-1939), a lawyer, Democratic politician, publisher of the Charleston Gazette, and U.S. Senator (1911-1917); also includes correspondence of his son William E. Chilton, Jr., editor of the Gazette. The Chiltons were a prominent Charleston family who were long-time owners of the Gazette. There are series of correspondence, legal papers, speeches and writings, and other material. Topics include state and national Democratic politics during the 1930s; family affairs; and the senator's business interests in West Virginia and Kentucky coal lands, including the Kanawha Coal Operators Association.

The majority of the collection consists of correspondence from the 1930s; it's located in series 1. This correspondence can be accessed via a topical or name index.


  • Creation: 1917, 1928-1939


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please see the Permissions and Copyright page on the West Virginia and Regional History Center website.

Biographical / Historical Note

William Edwin Chilton, Sr. (1858-1939), U.S. Senator and publisher of the Charleston Gazette, was born in St. Albans, West Virginia. Educated by private tutors, and after attending Shelton College, St. Albans, he began teaching school at the age of 16. He later studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1880, settling in Charleston shortly afterwards, and becoming associated with John E. Kenna, U.S. Senator form West Virginia, who served from 1883 to 1893. He later became a member of Chilton, MacCorkle and Chilton, involved himself with Democratic politics, and attained recognition as an able leader in public affairs. He was appointed prosecuting attorney in 1883, was admitted to the Supreme Court in 1891, was chairman of the Democratic State Executive Committee in 1892, Secretary of State from 1893 to 1897, and United States Senator from 1911 to 1917. He was recognized as an orator and writer of unusual power and force. After a defeated nomination to the United State Senate in 1924, he retired from his law practice and concerned himself with the editorship of the Charleston Gazette. He married Mary Louise Tarr in 1892, and had four children: William Edwin Chilton, Jr., J. Eustace Chilton, Eleanor Chilton, and Elizabeth Chilton Lowery. Eleanor achieved recognition as a writer, authoring Shadows Waiting and Follow the Furies.

William Edwin Chilton, Jr. (1893-1950), president of the Daily Gazette Company and managing editor of the Charleston Gazette, was born in Charleston, West Virginia. He graduated from Yale in 1917, and then served during the World War, primarily in convoy flying based in North Sydney, Nova Scotia. He became managing editor of the Charleston Gazette in 1924. He married Louise Schoonmaker in 1920, and had two children: William Edwin (Ned) Chilton, III, and Mary Carroll Chilton Abbott.

Source: West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia, ed. Jim Comstock, (Richwood, WV: Jim Comstock, 1976), Vol. 5.


6.7 Linear Feet (6 ft. 8 in. (16 document cases, 5 in. each))

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL:


William Edwin Chilton (1858-1939) Papers
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Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US