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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

  • 16 Mar 2023 7:11 PM | Anonymous

    The history of the Milliken log cabin, built by a formerly enslaved man named Bob, is the subject of a pamphlet published in 1977 by Mildred B. Payton, former Chatham County Home Demonstration Agent who recorded reminiscences of members of the Milliken family. The cabin was given to the County Fair Association and moved from its original location about seven miles northwest of Pittsboro to the County Fairgrounds in 1977, where it was renovated and can be seen today.

    You can read Mildred Payton's history of the cabin and its inhabitants on the Chatham County Historical Association website, where it has been published with permission of the County Fair Association.

    Photo by Kimberly Steiner, 2021.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #Milliken #LogCabin #CountyFairAssociation #MildredPayton #enslaved #preservation #PittsboroNC #ChathamCountyFairgrounds

  • 16 Mar 2023 6:57 PM | Anonymous

    Meet Mattie Rogers Beavers, who became a rural mail carrier in 1908. Her mail route was from Siler City to Harper's Crossroads and Bear Creek. For more than 24 years she delivered the mail by horse and buggy. (Think about how awful the roads were in those days!) Women on Mattie's route would give her lists of things they needed which she purchased in town and delivered the next day.

    Mattie's story was told in the Greensboro Daily News (22 July 1928). Her granddaughter, Milli Hammer, has transcribed the article and provided additional information and photos about Mattie and her family. The story has been archived on the Chatham County Historical Association website. Enjoy!

    You'll find the story and more photos here:

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamNC #ChathamHistory #SilerCityNC #HarpersCrossroadsNC #BearCreekNC #MattieRogersBeavers #WomensHistory #ChathamWomen #mail #RuralMailCarriers #1900s

  • 16 Mar 2023 6:49 PM | Anonymous

    This great photo of the Jeremiah Phillips family in Bennett was shared with us by Jerry Phillips. In the center, the man with the beard and hat, with hands on his hips, is Jerry's g-g-grandfather, Jeremiah Phillips (1839-1902). The woman next to him is Jerry's g-g-grandmother Nancy Street Brady Phillips (1847-1923). On the left, holding the mules, is Jerry's great-grandfather, Jeremiah (Jerry) Franklin Phillips (1878-1965). The others in the photograph are not identified, but are five of Jeremiah Franklin Phillips's ten siblings. The photo was taken at the Phillips homeplace in Bennett in the late 1800s.

    What a lucky family to have this record! Thanks to Jerry and Donna Phillips for sharing it with us!

    A list of the eleven Phillips children of Jeremiah and Nancy, and some of their spouses, can be found at

    #ChathamNCHistory#ChathamCountyNC#ChathamHistory#ChathamNC#BennettNC #PhillipsFamily#genealogy

  • 11 Feb 2023 8:29 PM | Anonymous

    What is it? Janet Carney found this Daisy Wheel etched in one of the window trim-casings when removing the paint prior to restoring the windows in the front parlor of the Patrick St. Lawrence House in Pittsboro. Daisy Wheels and other symbols were used to ward of the evil spirits.

    The Patrick St. Lawrence House was built as an inn or tavern around 1790 on a corner lot adjacent to the courthouse square to serve the gentry who would travel to the courthouse on business. Inns/taverns were built throughout the 18th century to serve main roads since travel was slow and often required overnight stays.

    The house/tavern has an interesting history, some of which is covered in our 2016 update on the Carney's restoration. You can read that here and learn more about the other interesting features of the house, such as the folding wall.

    The Carney's have made a lot of progress since 2016 and have nearly completed the renovation of the interior. Next up is the exterior paint and chimneys. They say they will be returning Pittsboro's "Yellow House" to its original mustard/dark yellow color soon. The house is located (after several moves) on Small St. in Pittsboro.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #YellowHouse #PatrickStLawrenceHouse #tavern #inn #PittsboroNC #DaisyWheel #1790s 

  • 11 Feb 2023 8:18 PM | Anonymous

    Fatal train wreck on Deep River Bridge near Cumnock, 3 June 1913. The bridge collapsed and the train plunged into the river, causing the deaths of three men and injuring seven others. Details are given in the 11 June 1913 Chatham Record.

    Thanks to Chadburn Spivey for sharing the photo of the wreck. He says the bridge that collapsed was between highway 421 and the camelback bridge (Deep River Park), and that you can still see remnants of the wreck when the river is around 75-150 cubic feet per second (summer time average flow).

    Photograph of the wreck: Frederick Marchant "Frank", Commercial Photography (1907-1930's), Hamlet, N.C. Wreck at Cumnock, N.C. Raleigh, Charlotte & Southern Rail Road - June 3, 1913 into Deep River.

    #ChathamNCHistory   #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #trains #trainwreck #CumnockNC #DeepRiver #1910s 

  • 11 Feb 2023 8:10 PM | Anonymous

    Who would guess that this old garage, located on the west side of Hillsboro Street in Pittsboro until it burned in the late 1920s was, in its earlier life, Chatham County's first courthouse and jail.

    Earlier courts were held in the home of Stephen Poe until this building was constructed south of Robeson Creek. The area was called "Chatham Courthouse." The town of Pittsboro didn't yet exist.

    The courthouse in this picture is the one raided by David Fanning in July 1781. Amazing, isn't it, that it survived into the 1920s, when it burned along with half a block of other frame buildings on Pittsborough's main street. I wonder if its history was appreciated back then. How fortunate we are to have this photo of it.

    Photo from the UNC-CH Wilson Library North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives. Subseries 1:19 Chatham County, Folder 0246: Pittsboro Courthouse, Scan 13.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #ChathamCourthouse #PittsboroNC #1920s 

  • 11 Feb 2023 8:07 PM | Anonymous

    This is the female dormitory of the Mt. Vernon Springs Academy, built in 1855. It is the oldest structure in the Mt. Vernon Springs Historic District.

    The Academy was founded in 1855 by the Sandy Creek Baptist Association and opened for classes in 1856. By the early 1860s, the academy had about 100 students--two-thirds male and one-third female. The state's Baptist newspaper, The Biblical Recorder, reported in 1858 that Mt. Vernon Springs was "one of the most favorable locations for a flourishing school in all the State."

    The minutes of the Sandy Creek Association indicate that the original plan was to construct a male academy in Pittsboro, but for some reason this plan was abandoned and Mt. Vernon Springs was chosen as the location for a school for males and females.

    For most of the Civil War, the academy was closed, but it reopened in 1865. It maintained close ties with other Baptist institutions, including Wake Forest University, until it closed permanently in the early 1900s.

    The trustees originally purchased the spring and its property from Abner Marsh and subsequently formed a fifteen-thousand-dollar stock company and bought several hundred acres of adjacent land. Dr. George W. Paschal described further, "At the top of a beautiful slope, 200 yards north of the Spring, they built the male academy, a stately structure, large enough to accommodate 100 students. On another slope 300 yards to the east of the Spring and separated from the male academy not only by distance but also by a stream and a thickly wooded ravine which obscured all vision, they erected the building of the Female Academy, and equipped the rooms with pianos, and palettes and paints and brushes..."

    Both the male and female dormitories were built in 1855--the only two structures known to have been constructed. The male dormitory burned in the 1970s. According to the Architectural Heritage of Chatham County, NC, "the vernacular Greek Revival style of the dormitories strongly influenced Mt. Vernon Spring's domestic architecture into the 1880s."

    Photo from the National Register of Historic Places form for the Mt. Vernon Springs Historic District. Additional information from The Architectural Heritage of Chatham County, NC and Chatham County, 1771-1971.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #MtVernonSpringsNC #MtVernonSpringsAcademy #SandyCreekAssociation #Baptist #schools #1850s

  • 11 Feb 2023 8:02 PM | Anonymous

    In 1917 George Walker Blair, a local businessman, horse trader and livestock dealer, saw the need for up-dated accommodations for visitors to Pittsboro, and built the Blair Hotel on the court house circle where the old Central Hotel, which burned several years earlier, had stood. The new Blair Hotel offered modern facilities for its time. These included a steam bath, electric lights, hot and cold running water, and indoor baths and toilets.

    The hotel was built in the “California Mission Style” with a low, overhanging tile roof and open balconies. The hotel facilities were located on the second floor, and the first floor consisted of commercial store-fronts. This seemingly up-to-date design was carried out before the paving of the town streets--when horses and carts were the predominant means of transportation.

    An early commercial tenant was Hall’s Department Store, established in 1922 and which operated continuously into the 1960’s. Hall's was Pittsboro’s oldest retail business, and sold clothing for men, women and children; a line of general merchandise, and what was described as “a ten cent store department.”

    Phreddie Popp says that she remembers her father having coffee with other men in the mid-1940s at a restaurant in the hotel. She also notes that Hall's Department store was a stopping off point for children walking home from school. It was the place to get 1-cent candy.

    Even before the building was completed, it was put to use by the town to house newly-recruited troops on their way to WWI.

    Adapted from Fred Vatter's March 2012 article in Chatham County Line and The Architectural Heritage of Chatham County, NC.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #PittsboroHistory #PittsboroNC #HallsDepartmentStore #BlairHotel #CaliforniaMissionStyle #1910s

  • 1 Jan 2023 7:31 PM | Anonymous

    1970 -- new assistant principals at Pittsboro High School -- Gene Brooks and Bishop Leach.

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #PHS #PittsboroHighSchool #PittsboroNC #schools #GeneBrooks #BishopLeach #1970s

  • 1 Jan 2023 7:26 PM | Anonymous

    Aaron Honeycutt shared this fascinating history about the geology of the area.

    "Rhyolite, the chosen material for stone tools by The Early Ones was quarried all along the Haw River in what is now North Carolina. Rhyolite is a volcanic rock that has a somewhat glassy texture. Though not as fine a stone for tools as some, within the borders of what is now North Carolina rhyolite was much sought after and is the material that many fine artifacts found today are made of. There are many quarry sites that can be seen in the rivers across North Carolina. This one is in the Haw River in Chatham County a bit up river from Bynum NC. When breaking out a chunk of stone for tool making a heavy harder rock was used to chip off a piece. The pieces that were harvested in this manor would have been reduced there on the river bank to smaller and lighter to carry pieces. Certainly the ground around this place holds MANY flakes from this reduction process. Preforms were made, blades of beauty that might later be taken down to smaller more refined spear points, knives, scrapers and other types of tools. When I visit a quarry site like this one I think about The People, clad in loin cloth (skins) and living on the land in such a natural way. They had no thoughts of accumulating wealth or even planning for old age. Their days were about finding some food, preparing for weather/season change and making the things that made life easier for whatever they planned to do. I love that we can see and touch the evidence of those who lived here before us. We can't see much to remind us of them as they left few scars upon the land but here in the rock we can clearly see the results of the visits by them."

    Thanks Aaron!

    #ChathamNCHistory #ChathamCountyNC #ChathamHistory #ChathamNC #ChathamNCGeology #Geology #rocks #fossils #NativeAmericanHistory #BynumNC

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

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