You Asked, We Answered: How did Chatham County get its name?


You Asked, We Answered: How did Chatham County get its name?We answer a question from Our Chatham reader Laura Lee.

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October 31, 2018


Hello, Chathamites. Happy Wednesday!

You Asked, We Answered: How did Chatham County get its name?

By: Chloe Arrojado

Have questions about what’s going on with all the changes in Chatham County? Well, you’ve come to the right place. This is the third in a series of articles we’ll be doing here at Our Chatham where we take questions submitted by our readers and send our team of reporters out to get some answers. Send us your questions that you’d like us to investigate.

The Question:

Our Chatham reader Laura Lee didn’t have a compelling reason for asking “Why is it called Chatham county?” She was simply curious to know the answer, and asked Our Chatham to find the history behind Chatham’s name.

The Answer:

According to Chatham County’s website, Chatham County is named after British statesman William Pitt. Pitt was the 1st Earl of Chatham in England and known for defending colonists’ rights before the American Revolution.

Chatham County’s History:

Native Americans travelled throughout the county before the region’s first settlers arrived. The first settlers came around the mid 1700s from northern areas such as Pennsylvania. Many of the early settlers were English Quakers. In 1751, a Quaker settlement was established in now-called Siler City. Because of the Piedmont’s temperate climate, most of Chatham’s settlers had a livelihood focused on agriculture.

Chatham County was officially formed out of Orange County through an Act put into effect in 1771. Orange County was originally such a large county that public duties were difficult and expensive. As a result, many people protested in a regional uprising known as the “War of Regulation”. The protesters, also known as “Regulators”, rebelled against colonial officials for corruption and inefficiency.

Chatham county’s formation most likely happened as a way to prevent “Regulators” from congregating together. The Act also resulted in the creation of Guilford and Wake counties.

Picture of a plaque honoring the “Regulators” who were hung for their actions. More information about the plaque can be found here.

Other places within Chatham County have a connection to history:

  • Jordan Lake got its current name in 1973 after former senator Benjamin Everett Jordan, who was a North Carolina native.

  • It is unclear whether Pittsboro gets its name from William Pitt or after his son William Pitt the Younger.

  • Siler City is named after Samuel Siler, who donated land for railroad development in the area. A depot named “Siler Station” was built on the property Siler donated.

Where you can find more information:

If you want to learn more about Chatham County’s history, you can visit the Chatham Historical Museum located on 9 Hillsboro St., Pittsboro, NC. Chatham County also offers different programs that can teach you about Chatham County’s history and local government.

Have other questions about your town or your county? Ask us! Subscribe to our newsletter and ask us any questions you want someone to answer.

Here are the resources we used to research Chatham County’s history:

North Carolina Architecture by Catherine W. Bishir

The Formation of the North Carolina Counties, 1663-1943 by David Leroy Corbitt

An Address on the Revolutionary History of Chatham County, N. C. by Henry Armand London

Notable + Quotable

Get out and vote!

Early Voting polls are open until Nov. 3. Vote for your Chatham County commissioners, North Carolina state Senators and state House Representatives, U.S. House Representatives, and more.

Where you can vote early:

When you can vote early:
  • Monday, Oct. 29 – Friday, Nov. 2, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 3, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Why you can vote early:
  • Because, democracy.
Can’t make it to early voting? Make sure you get to the polls on Election Day: Tuesday, Nov. 6. 

Be a changemaker.

Want to get more involved in making the decisions that are shaping Chatham County? Here are two openings that would allow you to do just that.

  • Want to help make recommendations to the Chatham County Board of Commissioners about reducing carbon emissions, promoting renewable energy, and more? The Climate Change Advisory Committee has an open seat which residents should apply for by next Monday (Nov. 5) at 5 p.m. Find more details
  • There’s an open spot on the Triangle South Workforce Development Board for someone that can represent Chatham’s business community. The board oversees the planning, policy guidance and oversight of the workforce investment system in Chatham, Harnett, Lee and Sampson Counties. Fill out an application by next Friday (Nov. 9). 

Quick Takes:

→ The Chatham Community Library will host free health insurance enrollment sessions on Tuesdays from 9:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. beginning Tuesday, Nov. 6, through Dec. 11. Get more information here.

→ Chatham residents with damages and losses as a result of Hurricane Florence can now apply for FEMA disaster assistance. See the full press release here.

→ For our Pittsboro readers: if fall leaves are already covering your yard, check out Pittsboro’s curbside leaf collection schedule. The town has set dates for the pickup service November through January. 

Around Our County

El Día de los Muertos – Day of the Dead Celebration
 Saturday, Nov. 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
 Chatham Community Library @ 197 NC Hwy 87 N, Pittsboro
 Free and open to the public
 Activities: “a presentation on the history of El Día de los Muertos, face painting, light refreshments, and a traditional altar. Community members are encouraged to bring their favorite Día de los Muertos items for the altar.”

Death Faire 2018
 Saturday, Nov. 3 from 12 to 8 p.m.
→ The Plant @ 220 Lorax Lane, Pittsboro
 Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under.
 The fair is hosted by Abundance and aimed at changing the culture around death.
 It features: workshops, vendors, “DED” Talks, kids activities, interactive altar, meditation, fire spinning, live music, food trucks, cash bar
 “This does not have to be a deep dive into the darkest corners of your soul. But if you want to go there, we welcome you! Come curious. Leave with peace of mind.”

After Hours Networking Event
 Wednesday, Nov. 7 from 6 to 8 p.m.
→ Pittsboro Roadhouse & General Store @ 39 West St, Pittsboro
 A mixer to encourage relationship-building between local business owners
 “Stay for 20 minutes or enjoy the full two hours. Get out there! Give people the chance to get to know you so they will want to do business with you.”

Stand Up For Autism: Emma Arnold And Lauren Faber Comedy Hour
 Wednesday, Nov. 7 from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. 
→ Pittsboro Center for the Arts and Sweet Bee Theater @ 18 E Salisbury St. Suite A, Pittsboro
 Tickets are $35 and benefit the Autism Society of North Carolina’s Camp Royall. There will also be a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle.

2nd Annual Carolina Women’s Show
 Friday, Nov. 9 from 5 to 8 p.m. is the VIP show. Saturday, Nov. 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. is the regular show.
→ Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center @ 1192 US Hwy 64 West Business, Pittsboro
 Tickets for the VIP night on Friday are $40 and must be bought in advance. On Saturday, adults are $5 at the door, cash only and children 10 and under are free.
 “The show will be a great opportunity to enjoy the very best this area has to offer in shopping, fashion, food, entertainment, cosmetics and more. There will be presentations on continuing education and financial planning, to wellness, health and beauty, and fitness. And of course, lots of prizes and giveaways!”

Pickin’: A Music Celebration & Chatham Arts Council Benefit
 Sunday, Nov. 11 from 4 to 8 p.m.
→ Chatham Arts Council @ 118 Fayetteville St, Pittsboro
 Tickets are $50 for adults, $20 for kids, and a table for 10 is $500. All proceeds from the event will benefit the CAC’s Artists-in-Schools Initiative.
 The Bluegrass Experience will put on a live concert starting at 5 p.m. There’ll be food, beer and wine courtesy of Carolina Brewery included in ticket prices.

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Our Chatham is an experimental project produced by Reese News Lab at the UNC School of Media and Journalism. We want to provide Chatham County with a news source it deserves, but we need your help to make this newsletter the best it can be! 

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