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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: 


My Grandfather, Mr. Tod R. Edwards, Sr., operated a jewelry business in the heart of the downtown area of Siler City for about 5½ decades. The uniqueness of his business was that he was an African-American operating a major business establishment in the Town and County that was frequented and patronized by both races throughout its entire business life. As best as the historical records can determine, the “Edwards Jewelry Store” began operations sometime between 1895 and 1905, and continued to be of service to the community and the surrounding area until its unfortunate closing in 1961.

My limited research over several years has yielded quite a few artifacts of note about the Edwards Family and the infamous Edwards Jewelry Store. From an historical perspective, it has dawned on me that the jewelry store just might have been the first establishment of its kind, owned by a person of African American descent, operating in either in the State of North Carolina, the Southeast, or even the United States. The historic information available to me is obviously very limited in order to verify any of my personal thoughts and assumptions. However, with the vast resources available to the organizations such as NCPedia, and supplemented through your contacts with multiple other similar associations scattered throughout the 100 counties of the State, perhaps the NCPedia can provide some valuable assistance in the quest to confirm whether or not the “Edwards Jewelry Store” was the first such establishment of its kind operated by an African American citizen in the State of North Carolina.

Given your vast catalogue of historical artifacts about North Carolina, please kindly let me know if NCPedia might be able to provide some help or any useful information with regards to this endeavor.

Thank You
Rob Edwards

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful information! Your local library may be able to help you find additional information. Also, you may want to visit the Digital Heritage Center They have a trememdous amount of information about NC online including newspapers and city directories. 

If you find you need further help, please contact us at: Our reference team may be able to provide more information. 

Kelly Eubank

Government and Heritage Library

Not that much information, please add more

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

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