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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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  • 30 Jan 2024 9:15 PM | Anonymous


    This photo of Bunn Daniel Thrailkill's store in Seaforth, Chatham County, is one of several photos in Connie McAdam's recent paper about the history of Seaforth on the CCHA website. Seaforth is one of many Chatham communities that have disappeared from our landscape. In the case of Seaforth, it was the construction of Jordan Lake that removed the community from our maps. Connie's paper reconstructs its history from newspaper articles and from interviews with folks whose families called Seaforth home for generations. You can read it here:

    https://chathamhistory.org/.../Seaforth%20History...

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #Seaforth #JordanLake


  • 30 Jan 2024 9:11 PM | Anonymous


    What was life like for one of Chatham's wealthiest plantation families in the 1800s? The Alston name is often associated with wealth and success, but we have few details about the family or their lives. Papers discovered in the Alston-DeGraffenreidt House, which still stands between Pittsboro and Siler City, shed some light on this topic.

    For forty-four years, what is now called the Alston-DeGraffenreidt House was the home of Adeline Williams Alston, widow of John Alston. John was one of the sons of Chatham Jack Alston. Adeline was widowed early and at the time of her husband's death had eight children and was pregnant with a ninth. She never remarried and managed the plantation with the help of her wealthy and well-connected family and the labor of hundreds of enslaved persons.

    Adeline's story is clearly not that of the average Chatham farm widow, but it is the story of an important aspect of Chatham's history. CCHA volunteers Steven Brooks, Jim and Beverly Wiggins have researched and documented this history and provided a paper that is now available on the Chatham County Historical Association website.

    In Adeline’s time, slave ownership was, to most, a measure of wealth and success. And even now, the wealth and success of families or individuals in the planter class is often remembered without acknowledgment of the inhuman practice that created and supported their privileged way of life. While narratives that focus only on the positive attributes of those who were much admired in their day are less disturbing, they are also incomplete and thus untrue. The authors have chosen to include the uncomfortable truths in this narrative.

    One available document lists the family's enslaved workers by name, and is included in hopes that it might provide difficult-to-find information for descendants of those persons.

    You can read the paper on our website:

    https://chathamhistory.org/resources/Documents/PDFs/ResearchArticles/AAlston/AdelineAlstonChathamPlantationOwner.pdf

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #AdelineAlston #Alston #plantation #AlstonDeGraffenreidtHouse #EnslavedPeople #1800s


  • 30 Jan 2024 8:59 PM | Anonymous


    This is the John Hooker Haughton house, which stood west of Pittsboro on what is now the Goldston Road.

    John Hooker Haughton was from a prominent eastern NC family and had studied law in Edenton. He moved to Pittsboro in 1837, shortly after his marriage to Eliza Hill, the daughter of Thomas Hill (another eastern NC planter, whose Pittsboro house was called Hailbron).

    Here's what the Architectural Heritage of Chatham County NC has to say about the Haughton house:

    "Hoping, no doubt, to impress the family of his bride, Haughton selected a conservative style that both recalled the important residences of the late eighteenth century and satisfied the contemporary taste for columns. A five-bay, two-story structure with a hipped roof skirted by a modillion cornice, the Haughton House was fronted by a double tier portico with Tuscan columns. However impressive his effort, the builder was definitely grounded in the local tradition. The house was built on stone and clay piers and demonstrated a rather free interpretation of the Classical style. The builder clustered the three central bays under the portico and crowned the last feature with a hipped roof rather than the usual pediment. Family tradition credits the design of this stylish house to Martin Hanks."

    According to John H. London's Bygones and Survivors: Old Homes and Structures in and around Pittsboro, the Haughton House was torn down in the 1960s. 

    Photo from the Chatham County Historical Association Architectural Heritage collection.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #architecture #JohnHHaughton #PittsboroNC


  • 30 Dec 2023 10:09 PM | Anonymous


    This unique old grave marker in Bear Creek shows remarkable workmanship. The lettering is delicate and fancy, and it is likely that it was done by a local craftsperson with tools suited to leatherworking or some other craft. At that time, in our area, stone carving was not a full-time profession, but rather a sideline.

    The stone is probably local, as it was unusual for stone to be brought in until much later, when rail transportation made it easier. Many--likely most--graves of the early 1800s in Chatham were marked by simple fieldstones with no inscription.

    Sadly, we don't know whose initials were SDC. The name is not spelled out--though the month, October, is spelled in full.

    If you are interested in helping us photograph Chatham's cemeteries and grave markers, contact us at CemeterySurvey@chathamhistory.org. There are many cemeteries not yet documented. We'd love to have your help!

    More info about the cemetery in which SDC rests can be found here in CCHA's cemetery documentation: https://cemeterycensus.com/nc/chat/cem409.htm

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #GraveMarkers #Cemetery #1800s


  • 30 Dec 2023 9:59 PM | Anonymous


    A cold winter day in Siler City. Probably late 1940s, according to those who know their cars. They say the red jeep would not have been available until 1947. The other cars are older because new models did not come out during the war.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #SilerCityNC #snow #winter #1940s


  • 30 Nov 2023 10:09 PM | Anonymous


    Farmers Alliance Store in Siler City. Notes on photo say it was taken around 1920, but the styles seem earlier. We think 1890s to 1900. What's your guess?

    Check out the fancy hats.

    From Duane Hall's Siler City collection. Original owned by Faye Johnson. Thanks to both for sharing!

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #SilerCityNC #FarmersAllianceStore #1900s #hats


  • 30 Nov 2023 10:05 PM | Anonymous


    This 1946 photo of Pittsboro shows a taxi on the right, as well as other interesting features of the town in an earlier time -- cute cars, Ford dealership right downtown, front-of-the-courthouse parking. Note--no clock in the courthouse cupola. That wasn't added until 2000.

    Click on the photo to enlarge.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #taxi #pittsboronc #1940s


  • 30 Nov 2023 9:59 PM | Anonymous

    The history of the Cartersville area and Gilmore Lodge was shared by the late Dr. Brooks Gilmore in a Chatham Historical Journal article that is available on the CCHA website.

    A lot of interesting Chatham history is associated with this area--daring escapes from windows to avoid Tories, visits from Revolutionary War generals, the location where many of Chatham's Confederate soldiers were mustered in, and decades of hunting.

    Learn more about the photos in the article: https://chathamhistory.org/.../PDFs/Journal/CHJvol16num1.pdf

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #GilmoreLodge #hunting #JohnBrooks #TickCreek #Cartersville


  • 30 Oct 2023 10:07 PM | Anonymous


    Jordan Lake didn't exist before 1970--and wasn't full until about 12 years later. Before the project began an extensive exploration of the archaeology of the area was required.

    Today most of us are familiar with the lake, beaches, trails, and woodlands at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, but the area was not always a recreational space. After a devastating tropical storm in 1945, the government began to look at methods of flood control for the Cape Fear River basin. In 1962, the Army Corps of Engineers submitted a plan that recommended building three reservoirs. Ultimately only Jordan Lake was constructed.

    A thorough archaeological investigation of the area to be flooded was required. The project’s archaeological surveys determined that there were about 350 sites in the area; two were the focus of extensive excavations. Archaeologists verified that Native Americans had inhabited the vicinity as far back as the Early Archaic period—or about 10,000 years ago. To this day the work stands as one of the largest salvage archaeology programs carried out in the state.

    In addition to the investigation of Native American artifacts, several dozen cemeteries were identified and moved before the lake was flooded. Information about these is included in CCHA's Cemetery Survey on CemeteryCensus.com.

    The Chatham Community Library has made available online three volumes about the archaeology of the lake area -- a study of the Jordan Lake State Recreation Area before the lake was built, digitized by the Internet Archive with funding from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Open any of the three volumes by opening the link that says "CLICK TO ACCESS THIS TITLE ONLINE" next to the volume you wish to view. Connect to the library record for the document here: https://bit.ly/3jbhitn

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #Jordan Lake #archaeology #NativeAmericanArtifacts

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Chatham County Historical Association

https://chathamhistory.org  ~  history@chathamhistory.org   ~  PO Box 93  ~  Pittsboro NC 27312  ~  919-542-6222  ~  


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