Chilton Dean house
John E. Shelton, a local homebuilder in Montgomery, built the original two-bedroom house between 1851 and 1853. He sold the house to its first owner, Rev. Thomas Chilton, in January of 1854. Mr. Shelton then built the Magnolia house to the west of the Chilton House, on other side of Eugenia Street, and the Bell House to the south of the Chilton house on Caroline Street. Both houses are still standing today.
Rev. Thomas Chilton was born in Kentucky in 1798. At the age of 21, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, as a Jacksonian, representing the state of Kentucky in the 21st Congress. Losing his reelection to the 22nd Congress, he later reran as an Anti-Jacksonian for the 23rd Congress and won. During his time at Washington, he was a roommate with David (“Davy”) Crockett, congressman from Tennessee, and they became good friends. Crockett and Chilton collaborated in writing Crockett’s well-known autobiography published in 1834. The proceeds from the book were split 50/50. Both men left politics in 1835. Chilton entered the ministry and practiced law while Crockett left for Texas to fight in the Texas Revolutionary War. Chilton decided against going to Texas in order to instead take care of his growing family. In 1839, Thomas Chilton moved his family to Alabama where he became pastor at a Baptist church. During a revival meeting, he led his maternal cousin, R.E.B. Baylor, to faith in Christ. Shortly thereafter, Baylor became a Baptist minister and co-founded Baylor University in Independence, Texas (later moved to Waco). Chilton moved his family again to pastor the First Baptist Church of Houston, but only served there for two years before accepting the position of pastor at the First Baptist Church of Montgomery. Unfortunately, that same year, Chilton suffered a stroke while preaching and died a few days later in his home. He left his widow, Louisa, and his thirteen children (ten sons and three daughters). He is buried at the Old Montgomery Cemetery. A tall granite stone remains today and reads “Reader, Pause… You too must die. Prepare to meet thy God.”
After the death of Thomas Chilton, his family remained in the two bedroom home on College Street. His son, Frank Chilton, went to fight in the Civil War for the Confederate Army at the age of 16 and fought in Hood’s Brigade. Frank was influential in erecting the Hood’s Brigade monument located on Texas State Capitol grounds in Austin, TX. He helped his mother, Louisa, manage the home as a Stagecoach Stop and Inn until 1872.
On December 28, 1868, four horse thieves were chased into the Montgomery by a posse of about ten to twenty men. Two of the four horse thieves ran into the inn where they were killed. Legend has it, the posse promised not to shoot one of the men if he came out and surrendered. When the thief came outside, they stabbed him with a Bowie knife… keeping their promise. All four thieves were killed that day. Deemed unworthy of interment in the churchyard, a new cemetery was created called the New Montgomery Cemetery, and the men were buried there instead.
Frank Chilton sold the house in 1872 and later, in 1891, Dr. F. A. Young purchased the house. Dr. Young saw his patients in the front addition of the house, the parlor. Patients would enter through a door located off the front porch which has since been sealed off (the door outline can still be seen today). Dr. Young served the Montgomery community until the 1930s.
Minnie and David Dean purchased the home from Dr. Young in 1894. Uncle Dean built the white picket fence around the front and side of the house, using heart pine that was cut and hand-selected from his own mill. While the fence has been replaced a few times over the years, the picket design is still the same. The Deans’ piano that was built around the turn of the century is still with the house and located in the front parlor room. Not having any kids of their own, the Deans cared for their nephew, Morris Steger. Morris would later inherit the house, adding onto the house, and expanding the garage. Morris and his wife, Bace, would care for the house until his death in 1984.