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Chatham County Historical Association

Preserving and sharing the history of Chatham County North Carolina

snippets ~ chatham history BLOG

Little Bits of Chatham History

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  • 3 Mar 2022 10:48 AM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    This is the J.B. Mills House, which is located on the southwest corner of the intersection of 64 and 751. The house is currently obscured by trees, but many remember it from the days when it was easily visible from the roadway.

    The earliest portion of the house is thought to have been built in the 1800s. Local tradition attaches the name of Dr. Cotton to that structure and his office is said to have been located in the woods west of the house. Ramsey's 1870 map shows "Cotton's Store" at this location.

    The larger, 1910 house, shown here in a mid-1980s photograph, was owned by the Mills family, who are said to have been a prominent family in nearby Wake County. The house is described in The Architectural Heritage of Chatham County, a 1991 publication. CCHA volunteer, Kimberly Steiner, did not receive permission from the current owner to photograph the structure in 2021 as part of her update of the architectural history of the township.

    #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #ChathamNCHistory #JBMillsHouse #ArchitecturalHeritage #Preservation #NewHopeTownship

  • 3 Mar 2022 10:46 AM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Meet the 1940 congregation of Rocky River Missionary Baptist Church (Silk Hope-Liberty Rd). Calvin Dark contributed this photo, which shows his Grandma Mabel Bowden in the black dress on the far left. His Uncle Marvin Bowden is the 10yr old in the front row center in the suit.

    Click on the photo to enlarge.

    CCHA volunteer Susan Mckean Hall photographed the markers in the church cemetery. You can see the record and photos here:

    #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #RockyRiverMissionaryBaptistChurch #churches #1940s #cemetery

  • 3 Mar 2022 10:44 AM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Did you know that Chatham County once had a salt mine? This 1862 clipping shows that the operators were exempted from military service for six months. Salt, was, of course, important for preserving meat and in short supply during the Civil War.

    The location of the mine is suggested by an ad posted in November 1862 from Carthage, NC, advertising "mineral lands for sale." In it, John Morison offers for sale his one-third interest in "a tract of 500 acres on the waters of Deep River, on which have been discovered a salt mine and pure saltpeter, and an oil of good quality for greasing leather, well worthy of geological investigation." From the Semi-Weekly Standard 28 Nov 1862.

    Chatham deed 292/147, tract 3 also mentions a 1.38 acre "Old Salt Mine Tract." Names mentioned in the deed are D.C. Holler, S.O. Dudley, and Jenks.

    Clipping from 8 Mar 1862 Semi-Weekly State Journal.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #SaltMine

  • 2 Jan 2022 9:41 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Tucked into woods along busy Highway 64 between Pittsboro and Siler City lies the grave marker of Dr. James McCarroll, whose story is written on the slab. The original thick, flat marble slab, 3 feet by 6 feet, is one of the oldest inscribed grave markers in the county. It has the following inscription:

    "Here lies interred the body of Doctor James McCarroll.
    He was born in the County of [Aramagh-sic] Armagh in the Kingdom of
    Ireland in the year 1734 and departed this life on the 93rd day
    of the year 1777, the 43rd year of his age. He was remarkable for his
    knowledge in the arts and science. This monument erected by
    Elizabeth McCarroll his widow on the 16th day of 1778."

    A new monument was erected by Rachel Whithead, April 2000:
    "Dr. James McCarroll
    Born in Ireland 1734
    Died 3 April 1777
    Married to
    Elizabeth St. Lawrence"

    The Chatham Record published an article "An Old Grave," about the McCarroll gravestone on 15 Nov 1883, noting that it was even then believed to be one of the oldest marked graves in the county. That article incorrectly indicates that Dr. McCarroll's daughter married Patrick St. Lawrence. It was Dr. McCarroll's widow, Elizabeth, who married Mr. St. Lawrence. The error has been carried forward to some more recent histories of the county.

    Thanks to Duane Hall for photos taken in 2011 and 2018.

    These markers are on private property. Please do not visit without permission.

  • 2 Jan 2022 9:37 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Harvey Newlin, was born 19 July 1888, the 6th child of James Nathaniel “Jim” and Martha Elizabeth Guthrie Newlin. His birthplace was a sharecropper cabin in Hickory Mountain Township between Pittsboro and Siler City in Chatham County, NC.

    Harvey is probably best remembered for the barns he built in Alamance, Chatham, and adjoining counties. The first barn was built on his own farm in southern Alamance in the late 1920’s. It has a gambrel roof and is built on a hillside, so a horse-drawn wagon could be driven into the hayloft through a large door in the side of the barn. It is still a beautiful building after standing for more than 80 years. He and a crew of farmer-carpenters built dozens of gambrel-roofed barns, several Gothic-roofed barns, pole barns as well as several dwelling houses. There were 153 barns built by Harvey and his crew before his retirement.

    Read more about Harvey Newlin and his barns on our website:…/HarveyNewlinsBarnsDavidHobson.…

    Harvey's story is told by David K. Hobson, a member and past president of Silk Hope Ruritan Club and Pastor of the Rocky River Friends Meeting. Helen Newlin Bowers, Harvey's granddaughter, provided information. We thank Helen, David, and the Silk Hope Ruritan for allowing us to share this story.

  • 2 Jan 2022 9:34 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Historic Columbus Lodge #102 AF & AM in Pittsboro. Built in 1838, modified in 1849, it has many interesting features, including a "lean" of about nine inches. All that is explained on the Columbus Lodge website! Learn more here:

    The site also includes photos of the Lodge's collection of antique Masonic aprons.

  • 8 Dec 2021 7:38 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Downtown Pittsboro 1964, from the Pittsboro High School yearbook.

  • 28 Nov 2021 8:53 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Elder Theater, Siler City, early 1950s. 

    The Elder Theater opened March 27, 1939. It was on the north side of East Raleigh between street numbers 109 and 117. The first film shown was "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Admission as 25 cents -- 10 cents for kids under 13. The building was removed after being seriously damaged in a fire in March of 1963. From Wade Hadley's The Town of Siler City: 1887-1987.

    The segregated balcony is a sign of the times and a part of our history that is not often documented.

    Thanks to Duane Hall for contributing this photo from his Siler City collection.

  • 28 Nov 2021 8:45 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Egypt, now Cumnock, was envisioned in the 1880's as a town with hundreds of houses, churches, stores, a grand hotel, bank and more, all centered around the coal mine. The hotel was built, but the town never came close to what was planned.

    Thanks to Forest Hazel, who has researched all of the Deep River mines, for this information, and to Larry Pickard for the photo of the Egypt store.

  • 18 Sep 2021 8:39 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    This photo of a Chatham County smokehouse in the Chapel Ridge area was taken in 2016. We are told that it is still standing.

    The structure appears to have been built as a cabin and later converted to another use. The floor is dug out so that you'd need to step down to the level of the ground on entering. Several farmers who have seen the photos believe that it was used as a smokehouse. Some tobacco sticks inside suggest that it may have been used to cure tobacco at some point--perhaps for home use.

    Old, functional structures such as this one are quickly disappearing from rural North Carolina. Please help us document Chatham's old agricultural buildings by telling us about them and submitting photos. Contact us at

    See more photos of the structure on our Facebook page:

    #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #smokehouse #agriculturalbuildings #ChapelRidge #preservation

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