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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 Oct 2022 10:06 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)


    Siler City High School Cheerleaders, 1952.

    Front row: Susan Patman, Frances Fitts, Judy Clapp, Dorothy Paschal

    Back row: Dot Elder, Blanche Williams, Rosa Ruth Frazier

    See our entire collection of Chatham County High School Yearbooks.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #SilerCityNC #SilerCityHighSchool #cheerleaders #1950s

  • 30 Oct 2022 9:58 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)



    Silk Hope, 1959.

    When we previously posted this photo, several people chimed in with info--a surprising amount. Turns out that some folks see a lot of history in this simple photo!

    David Hobson talked with some lifelong Silk Hope residents about the photo and shared the following: "Bing" Buckner operated a Blacksmith Shop on the right side of photo near a Shell station not visible in the photo. Newton Woody had previously (not in 1959) operated a radio repair shop somewhere along the buildings on the right side. One resident remembered first seeing a tv with a small round screen in that shop. Someone thought there was a grain storage building somewhere along that side sometime. The Woody Cotton Gin was off to the right beyond this picture on now Silk Hope-Gum Springs Rd opposite the intersection of Mt Vernon-Hickory Mtn Rd - in today's SH VFD Station 7 parking area. Diesel engines or belt pulley from a tractor powered the cotton gin.

    On the left was the AMOCO station with a series of different operators through the years. Folks were sure the chicken truck was poultry pioneer Clyde Reid Perry's first early 1952 or 1954 International 10 wheel truck with all live axles. The all live axles would help not getting "hung up" on muddy farm ground. 14-17 chickens would have been put in each coop, then loaded by hand - maybe 5,000 chickens in a load! If the driver came to a stop right at a traffic light, they would watch for the change of the light by looking at its reflection on the hood of the truck as they couldn't see through the stack of coops over the front of the truck. J. Aycock Perry who died in 1963, (Clyde Reid's father) was mentioned as operator of the feed mill on the left near the AMOCO station. Someone thought that the Petty family may have owned the building. The barn or farm shed in the distance beyond the curve in the road would have been at Ben & Lucy Ingle's farm probably started by Ben's dad, Joe Ingle. Today, Silk Hope Service, a convenience store with vehicle fuels, pizza, beverages, etc, is on the left and the Silk Hope Volunteer Fire Department Station #7 is on the right.

    There's a lot of history in Silk Hope! Keep sharing it with us!

    Thanks to David Hobson for his research. Photo from the CCHA collection.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #SilkHopeNC #CCHAcollection #1950s



  • 30 Oct 2022 9:50 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)


    Movie Star in Siler City!

    This photo shows movie star Don "Red" Barry on a visit to the Elder Theater in Siler City. 21 May 1948

    Donald Barry de Acosta, known as Red Barry, was an American film and television actor. He was nicknamed "Red" after appearing as the first Red Ryder in the highly successful 1940 film Adventures of Red Ryder. By the 1950s, Barry was a supporting actor in a number of western films and tv series.

    See anyone you know among the fans?

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #DonRedBarry #1940s #ElderTheater #SilerCityNC #movies #moviestars


  • 4 Oct 2022 7:32 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)


    We have to report a sad ending to the Chatham County smokehouse in the Chapel Ridge area that we have admired. In September 2022 the huge tree that marked the site split, with a large section falling on the smokehouse. We've added a photo to bring the story up to date. We're glad to have saved a photographic history.

    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 preservation@chathamhistory.org.

    #NCHistory #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #smokehouse #agriculturalbuildings #ChapelRidge #preservation


  • 4 Oct 2022 7:26 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)



    North Carolina Railroad map from 1900 --zoomed to Chatham County. The key shows rail lines by color.

    Note that the map incorrectly labels Siler City as 'Silver City.'

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #railroads #1900s #maps


  • 4 Oct 2022 7:20 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)


    Mildred “Mama Dip” Edna Cotton Council was born in the Baldwin Township of Chatham County. In her youth, she worked with her parents as sharecroppers; however, she knew from a very young age cooking was her calling. She worked in countless kitchens around Chapel Hill, eventually opening her own restaurant. Her restaurant would go on to receive love from influential people like Michael Jordan and President George W. Bush. Council also published two cookbooks and a line of food products.

    Council passed away on May 20, 2018; however, her southern cooking legacy will not soon be forgotten. Along with the survival of her still very popular restaurant, many of her children and grandchildren work in the food business. Her work in the food industry not only impacted the food scene of Chapel Hill but also helped promote southern cooking on a national scale.

    You can learn more about Mama Dip in this podcast produced by Ella Sullivan for a Girl Scout Gold Award. Listen and read here:

    https://chathamspast.wixsite.com/alookinto/mildred-mama-dip-edna-cotton-council

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #MildredCouncil #MamaDip #cooking #BlackHistory #AfricanAmericanHistory


  • 25 Aug 2022 7:31 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Pictured here is Ebenezer log church, probably constructed in the early 19th century as the earliest of several structures housing the Ebenezer Methodist Church in the Bell's vicinity. It was located in what later became the impoundment area for Jordan Lake. It was a one-room building about twenty-one by eighteen feet constructed of squared logs joined by diamond notches. The interior had wide pine flooring and a batten door. The log-and-stick chimney seen on the church is an unusual feature. It was built with squared logs joined at the corners in a full-dovetail joint. The photo is from 1971.

    The church was placed on the National Register in 1974, but subsequently fell into ruin and was removed from the register in 1980. It has since been destroyed. More information about the structure can be found on page 314-315 of the book The Architectural Heritage of Chatham County, North Carolina written by Rachel Osborn and Ruth Selden-Sturgill. The book is available in all three Chatham County libraries, and is for sale in the Chatham Historical Museum and on the CCHA website: https://chathamhistory.org/Shop

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #Bells #EbenezerMethodistChurch #architecture #logchurch #church


  • 25 Aug 2022 7:27 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Why are all of these Siler City folks gathered in town on a hot July Saturday? Because on 30 July 1949, the Jones Department Store got air conditioning! We appreciate it now, but it was definitely something to celebrate back then!

    Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

    Thanks to Larry Pickard for sharing this bit of Chatham County history! Larry has scanned negatives from the collection of Ed Goldston, Siler City photographer, Goldston Studio.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #SilerCityNC #JonesDepartmentStore #airconditioning #GoldstonStudio


  • 25 Aug 2022 7:24 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Farmer's Bank, Pittsboro.

    Documentary photo from the Architectural Heritage of Chatham County, NC.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #PittsboroNC #FarmersBank #HistoricPhotos #bank #HillsboroStPittsboroNC


  • 4 Jul 2022 8:07 PM | Chatham Historical Museum (Administrator)

    Ever heard of Fort Siler City?

    Mike Fendrick shared several photos with us after his dad passed away. His father was a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army Corp of Engineers, temporarily stationed in Siler City in the early 1960s (definitely in 1963). This photo has a sign that says "Fort Siler City" and his father's unit (537th Engineers), but we can't find any references to an official "Fort Siler City," so it was probably a name given by the unit to their camp.

    We're not sure what what the Army Corp was doing in Siler City in the early 1960s. Jordan Lake was being planned/debated at the time, but Siler City seems like a long way from where the lake ended up. Commenters on a previous post have suggested that they were updating maps of the area. Several people suggested that the camp was located in the area of the old water plant off Piney Grove road.

    Mike's dad shared an amusing story about his interactions with some locals while he was in Siler City. The unit's survey towers were being torn down at night -- delaying completion of their task. It was determined that the damage was the work of local moonshiners who believed the towers were being used to find and report the location of illegal stills in the area. A meeting was arranged with a representative of the moonshiners, and Mike's father took him on a helicopter flight -- easily pointing out the location of multiple stills from the air. An agreement was made that if the survey towers remained untouched, the unit would complete its work. If, however, the towers continued to be destroyed, Mike's dad would take the Sheriff on a similar helicopter tour of the County. Problem solved.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #SilerCityNC #ArmyCorpsofEngineers #FortSilerCity #moonshine #Stills #1960s


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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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