Olin Hatfield Chilson

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Olin Hatfield Chilson
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado
In office
Nominated by Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by William Lee Knous
Succeeded by Richard Paul Matsch
Personal details
Born (1903-11-22)November 22, 1903
Pueblo, Colorado, U.S.
Died September 28, 1991(1991-09-28) (aged 87)
Alma mater University of Colorado School of Law

Olin Hatfield Chilson (November 22, 1903 – September 28, 1991) was a United States federal judge.

Born in Pueblo, Colorado, Chilson attended the University of Colorado, quarterbacking the so-called "Wonder Team" in the mid-1920s, and being named All-Conference in three sports. received an LL.B. from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1927. He was in private practice in La Jara, Colorado in 1927, in Greeley, Colorado from 1927 to 1928, and then in Loveland, Colorado until 1954. He was a District attorney of Eighth Judicial District of Colorado from 1940 to 1948. He was an Assistant secretary of U.S. Department of the Interior from 1956 to 1957, and was a U.S. Undersecretary of Interior from 1957 to 1958. He returned to private practice in Denver, Colorado from 1958 to 1960.

On February 19, 1960, Chilson was nominated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Colorado vacated by William L. Knous. Chilson was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 1, 1960, and received his commission on March 5, 1960. He assumed senior status on December 31, 1973. Chilson served in that capacity until his death.

Chilson was involved with discussions about the final destiny of Ellis Island while he was with the Interior Department. While the future of Ellis Island was still largely undetermined after its closure in 1954, Chilson used his influence to support a plan formed by the American Museum of Immigration, Inc. The AMI sought to build an immigration museum at the base of the statue of liberty and did not wish to see a competing entity formed on Ellis Island. The development of the property was a very real concern as Ellis Island was put up for auction once it became clear that no government agency wanted to make use of it. Public outcry against the development induced President Dwight D. Eisenhower to suspend the sale and explore other options.

As the General Services Administration (which took control of the property after it was essentially abandoned by the Department of Immigration and Naturalization) was attempting to dispose of the Ellis Island property, Chilson informed the GSA that the creation of any national immigration museum at Ellis Island "would be in direct conflict with a program endorsed by President Eisenhower and the Department of the Interior in 1954, to establish the American Museum of Immigration in the base of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, on Liberty Island." In reply, GSA Administrator Franklin G. Floete assured Chilson that "we will not recommend the use of this property as a museum or historical monument without first consulting your Department."

By 1960, however, two members of AMI’s historians committee suggested that a museum on Ellis Island might complement work done by AMI. They also suggested that any future museum might be best placed on Ellis Island. Other AMI members disagreed, but to little avail; the whole argument was rendered moot when President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Proclamation 3656 in 1965 and added Ellis Island to the Statue of Liberty National Monument.[1]

From 1964 until 1986, Chilson serves as a trustee of the Boettcher Foundation, one of Denver's largest philanthropic organizations.

In 1985, Chilson was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/stli/adhi5.htm Statue of Liberty National Monument, an Administrative History (Chapter 5)


External links[edit]

  • [1] Papers of Hatfield Chilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
  • [2] Hatfield Chilson Recreation Center, a Loveland, CO facility named in Chilson's honor; this was at least in part due to a grant from the Boettcher Foundation in recognition for Chilson's long-time service on its board.
Legal offices
Preceded by
William Lee Knous
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado
Succeeded by
Richard Paul Matsch