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Chatham County

Chatham County, NC


COUNTY SEAT: Pittsboro

FORMED: 1771

LAND AREA: 682.19 square miles


White: 82.2%

Black/African American: 12.7%    

American Indian: 1.2%

Asian: 2.0%    

Pacific Islander: 0.1%

Two or more races: 1.8%

Hispanic/Latino: 12.5% (of any race)

From State & County QuickFacts, US Census Bureau, 2018.


Chatham County

Piedmont region


REGION: Piedmont
RIVER BASIN: Cape Fear, Map
NEIGHBORING COUNTIES: Alamance, Durham, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Orange, Randolph, Wake

Chatham County, NC

See also: See also: North Carolina Counties (to access links to NCpedia articles for all 100 counties); Devil's Tramping Ground.

by Jay Mazzocchi, 2006

Chatham County, located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, was formed from Orange County in 1771 in response to troubles stemming from the War of the Regulation. The county was named for William Pitt, earl of Chatham, who defended American rights in the British Parliament. Early inhabitants of Chatham County included Iroquoian and Siouan Indians, who were followed by Scottish, English, and German settlers. The county seat is Pittsboro-also named for William Pitt-which was incorporated in 1778 as Chatham but renamed Pittsboro in 1787. Other communities in Chatham County include Goldston, Siler City, Bennett, Brickhaven, Silk Hope, Moncure, Bynum, and Mount Vernon Springs. Physical features of the county include B. Everett Jordan Lake, a sprawling reservoir popular as a recreation area, and the Cape Fear, Deep, Haw, Rocky, and New Hope Rivers.

On the western edge of the booming Triangle area that includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and environs, Chatham County is growing at a rapid rate. Nonetheless it still raises many agricultural products, including swine, tobacco, corn, soybeans, hay, poultry, and beef cattle. Manufactured products from the county include textiles, yarns, fabrics, furniture, and lumber. Sandstone, shale, coal, and iron are mined in the county.

Chatham County's historic landmarks include the Green Womack House (ca. 1819), the Pittsboro Masonic Lodge (ca. 1840), and the London Cottage (1861). The Devil's Tramping Ground, a mysterious and legendary 40-foot circular path in which no vegetation will grow, is located in Chatham County near Siler City. The Carnivore Preservation Trust is a sanctuary for unique endangered species located in Pittsboro and open to the public by appointment. The county's cultural institutions include the Chatham Theatre Guild and the Siler City Arts Council. Popular annual events and festivals include the Silk Hope Old Fashion Farm Days, Deep River Crescent Celebration, and Siler City Chicken Festival. In 2004 the population of Chatham County was estimated to be 55,000.

Annotated history of Chatham County's formation:

For an annotated history of the county's formation, with the laws affecting the county, boundary lines and changes, and other origin information, visit these references in The Formation of the North Carolina Counties (Corbitt, 2000), available online at North Carolina Digital Collections (note, there may be additional items of interest for the county not listed here):

County formation history:

Index entry for the county:

Additional resources:

Corbitt, David Leroy. 2000. The formation of the North Carolina counties, 1663-1943 (accessed June 20, 2017).

Chatham County Government:

Chatham County Chamber of Commerce:

DigitalNC, Chatham County:

North Carolina Digital Collections (explore by place, time period, format):

Image credits:

Rudersdorf, Amy. 2010. "NC County Maps." Government & Heritage Library, State Library of North Carolina.

Origin - location: 


I am trying to locate information on my grandfather's parents. My grandfather is Jessie Alston born 1/16/1919; married to Virginia Mae Alston (had seven children). His parents are listed as Lawrence and Pattie Watson. I can not locate additional information on them anywhere. My uncle used to tell stories that my grandfather was taken in by the Alston family and they changed his last name to Alston . I guess there is some truth to this as his parents are Watsons. Can you help me find anything about who they were and what happened to them?

Thanks in advance!

Hi, I'm doing some family research and hope you can help. I'm following 2 lines, Richard S. Webster of Upper Regiment about 1850, as well as Sherrod (Sherwood?) Webster of the same time and place.
My G-Great Grandma was Mazie Ellen Webster; I can't pinpoint her family. Our oral history says she was half native american.
My real question however- what was the population of native Americans in Chatham at this time, and is Webster a name they might carry? If you have input or sources, much appreciated. I've been using to great effect, yet its a very long journey.
yours, Jonas

Dear Jonas,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and taking time to share your question. 

I am connceting you by email with Reference Services at the N.C. Government & Heritage Library.  A librarian will contact you shortly to help with this question.

Good luck with your research and best wishes,

Kelly Agan


Where is Ward's creek , Ward's mine, and Ward's swamp in chatham Co.?
Do you have any information on Aaron Stephenson Stinson, Sr .born 1700 , married Bathsheba Howell, son-Aaron Stephenson Stinson jr. 1735-1799 married Mary Rebecca Shelton came from Moore co and lived in Chatham county, maybe close to Staley nc.

Do you have other information on Aaron Stinson Sr. and ancestors?

Thanks to you I was able to add Sr. to Jr. on


Did you ever find more in on Aaron Stinson Sr?

Dear Tom,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia.  Unfortunately, we do not have any information on Aaron Stinson in NCpedia. I am replying to you via email to give you some suggestions for researching this further.

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

Aaron Stinson Sr. and Bathsheba Howell Stinson are my great(x6) grandparents. I would like to ask for a copy of that email too, if possible. Thank you!

Ben Stephenson

Dear Elizabeth,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and sharing your question.

I have consulted the North Carolina Gazetteer for information about the locations you mention and do not find these locations listed for Chatham County. The Gazetteer does include a Ward Mine in Davidson County, a Ward Swamp in Sampson County, and a cross reference to a Ward Creek in Cleveland County. It doesn’t mean these names are not or were not in Chatham County, just that they are not listed in the Gazetteer.  The Gazetteer is an annotated index of more than 20,000 North Carolina place names, both contemporary and historical.  It is available in NCpedia and I am including here a link to search results from NCpedia:   

I am also connecting you via email with Reference Services at the NC Government & Heritage Library.  A librarian will contact you shortly to help if you are still looking for information.

Please feel free to reply if you need additional help.

Good luck with your search and best wishes,

Kelly Agan


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