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Chatham County Historical Association

Preserving and sharing the history of Chatham County North Carolina


30 Aug 2023 11:11 AM | Anonymous

This photograph is of "Kentucky," the Chatham County home of Frederick Jones Hill, one of several Cape Fear planters who made their summer homes in Pittsboro in the early 1800s. Kentucky was located on the 99-acre parcel that is now occupied by the Chatham County Agriculture and Convention Center.

The land on which Chatham County’s new Agricultural Center was built has an interesting history. The earliest owner shown in Chatham County records is Mary Watters, daughter of Continental Army General James Moore, and wife of Colonel William Watters, who also served in the Continental Army. In 1825 Mary Watters sold the 99-acre property to her son-in-law, Frederick Jones Hill. The deed (Z/460) indicates that the property was her former residence. The Old Stage Road formed the southern boundary of the parcel and then turned north for some distance within the parcel before joining Old Salisbury Road which continued northwest.

Frederick Jones Hill was a physician, planter and enslaver, and legislator known for his early legislation to establish public schools in the state. Raised in New Hanover County, he, like several other wealthy Wilmington families of the period, had ties to Pittsboro. Hill, his father, and three uncles owned elaborate summer homes in and around Pittsboro. Hill and his uncle, Dr. Nathaniel Hill, were instrumental in building St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in 1831 in Pittsboro.

The records are unclear whether Frederick Jones Hill built his summer home, “Kentucky,” on the parcel he purchased from his mother-in-law Mary Watters, or whether it was built prior to his purchase of the property. Hill and his wife, Anne Ivey Watters, were third cousins, once removed. They married in 1812 and had no children. The Kentucky property was eventually inherited (in 1874) by William H. Moore, a presiding elder of the Methodist Church, and to whom both Hill and wife Anne had family connections.

Until the property was purchased by Chatham County in 2012, it had been handed down in the Moore family through several generations.

Remarkably, some features and artifacts from the property’s early history survived, and the Chatham County Historical Association sought to document those and to learn whatever possible about that history prior to its development as the county’s long-awaited Agricultural Center. Volunteers wrote a detailed report about the property and surviving structures and artifacts. You can read it on the Chatham County Historical Association website:

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Chatham County Historical Association  ~   ~  PO Box 93  ~  Pittsboro NC 27312  ~  919-542-6222  ~  

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