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Chatham County Historical Association

Preserving and sharing the history of Chatham County North Carolina

Encountering Untold Matters of Race and Family in Chatham County

  • 5 May 2024
  • 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
  • Historic Chatham County Courthouse

Encountering Untold Matters of Race and Family in Chatham County

George Thomas is a North Carolina native, family historian, writer, and mapper seriously drawn to the importance of land records. Even as an accomplished woodcarver, teacher, and later director of the Crafts Center at NC State, he has always been quick to share his love of history and how it provided a deep but quiet retreat from an otherwise busy career fraught with concerns for safety. Not long before retiring in 2017, George experienced a game-changer upon learning of a yDNA connection rooted in old Chatham County. Providing the impetus for his recent publication CROSSING BUCKHORN: Untold Matters of Race and Family in the Evolving State of North Carolina, no longer was he able to hold on to traditional beliefs concerning his Thomas ancestry.  

In this insightful presentation, George will introduce participants to Joseph Thomas, an ancestral figure who sold his 1790s issuance of land near historic Memphis Methodist Church to Ishmael Roberts, a Revolutionary War veteran and Free Person of Color. Beginning with that simple transaction, George will bring together stories of a little-known mixed-race community in old Chatham County (now Lee County), their interaction with nearby Quakers, migration to Indiana, and reconstruction era atrocities involving those who remained. Reaching beyond the usual chronological recounting of family history, George will share his questioning of our collective past and how he believes it influenced events as they played out in the Buckhorn community along the Cape Fear River. The surnames mentioned in this talk include Thomas, Avent, Glover, Roberts, Walden, Archer, Dungeon, Lindley, Dickens, Harris, and Hester.

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

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