Long Branch is a historic family seat in Millwood, Virginia built in the early 19th century; named after the creek that runs through the property. Built on approximately 1000 acres (currently 400 acres) by Robert Carter Burwell in 1811 and owned by the Burwell-Nelson family until 1957.
On September 18, 1650, Charles II of England, granted the original tract of the Northern Neck of Virginia, to seven followers including Lord Culpepper. On September 7, 1688, after acquiring the interests of the remaining grantees, Lord Culpepper was recognized as the sole owner of the Northern Neck. This land passed to his grandson Thomas, 6th Lord of Fairfax and was managed by him until his death in 1781.
Robert Carter, familiarly known as "King Carter" was appointed agent for the sale and lease of unoccupied areas of the Fairfax proprietary. On September 22, 1730, acting as Fairfax's agent, he executed a deed to ten of his sons and grandsons: 50,212 acres of land in what are now Clarke, Warren, and Frederick Counties, Virginia. In 1740 the land was split into eight lots and divided into approximately the same size lots. Robert "Robin" Burwell, a grandson to King Carter, received 5,619 acres of the land. Robert "Robin" Burwell left his land to his son Nathaniel and to his grandson Robert Carter Burwell. In 1769, Robin Burwell conveyed half of his land to his son Nathaniel, who later sold it in 1771. After Robin Burwell's death, controversy erupted over who owned various portions of the original grant.
In 1798, after the legal problems had been sorted out, Robert Carter Burwell inherited his grandfather's land of about 1,000 acres lying roughly between Long Branch Creek and Rattlesnake Spring.
Around 1790, Robert Cater Burwell established Long Branch Plantation and began farming wheat. During the early years of the plantation, Burwell lived with his sister and brother-in-law just north of Long Branch at Rattlesnake Plantation, currently known as Rosney. In the beginning of the 19th century Burwell began to plan his own home, just south of Rosney near Long Branch Creek.
In 1811, Burwell had planned a large, two-story brick home with an east wing. Burwell consulted with architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe during construction. After the start of construction of the plantation house, Burwell left in the summer of 1813 to fight in the War of 1812. He died later that year of diseases he contracted while stationed in Norfolk. He willed his land to his sister, Sarah Nelson and her husband Philip. It is unknown whether Burwell finished construction of the mansion before his death or if Sarah and Philip continued construction upon their inheritance.
In 1842, Philip Nelson sold Long Branch to his nephew, Hugh Mortimer Nelson and his wife Anna Maria Adelaide Holker. This was the first time Long Branch changed hands in a financial transaction and the last until 1957. When Hugh M. Nelson and his wife Adelaide moved to Long Branch with their three-year-old daughter, Nannie, they started a large renovation and expansion of the property. In 1847, Hugh Nelson Jr. was born.
After moving to Virginia from Baltimore, Maryland, Hugh and Adelaide took to life as Virginia planters and assumed a leading role within Millwood's society. Hugh Nelson took command of the Clarke Cavalry, served as a justice of the peace, and was a vestryman for the Christ Church. Their position in Millwood's society came with considerable expense. As early as 1850, Nelson started to take out loans against Long Branch. He took out several debts and left many bills unpaid. There is little evidence that Adelaide knew of any financial troubles.