On July 4, 1776, the United States of America declared independence from Great Britain. After this declaration’s adoption by 12 colonies on July 4, the United States began to work its way towards total independence as a free nation. Typically, we observe this day as an opportunity to celebrate our patriotic spirit. In that respect, let’s see how much you know about the history in your backyard, Chatham County!
Try your best to answer the questions below, and if you need help, the answers will follow!
Q: When did settlers first begin to arrive in Chatham County and who were they?
A: Settlers coming from Europe first began to establish a connection with the area as early as the mid-1700s. This also includes a Quaker settlement that was established in 1751. Many settlers traveled on a trading route from the North and from the South on the Cape Fear River.
Q: When was Chatham County officially established?
A: The Colonial Assembly officially established Chatham County through legislation on December 5, 1770, becoming effective on April 1, 1771. As you may know, or maybe not, Chatham County was formed from a portion of what was once Orange County.
Q: Who is Chatham County named after?
A: The County itself takes on the name of the Earl of Chatham, William Pitt. He was named a “defender of American rights in the British Parliament.”
Q: What comprised the governing body of Chatham County in its early years?
A: At first, justices of the peace, who served the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, governed Chatham County. Justices were appointed by North Carolina’s General Assembly. Justices also were able to appoint county officials, such as the sheriff, coroner, clerk, register and county attorney.
Q: Can you guess the population of Chatham County in 1790?
A: In 1790, the population was recorded as 9,221. In 2009, the population was recorded as 64, 772. In other words, in 219 years, the population has increased by 55,551 people!
Now that we’ve tested your knowledge on Chatham County, let’s see how much you know about one of Chatham County’s most prized towns, Pittsboro!
Q: How did Pittsboro get its name?
A: Pittsboro was originally named Pittsborough, named after William Pitt, the son of the Earl of Chatham. Pitt was the youngest man to hold the office of prime minister of Great Britain.
Q: Who organized the formation of Pittsboro (or Pittsborough) during its formation?
A: In 1787, the North Carolina General Assembly allowed nine commissioners to purchase 100 acres of land, thus forming Pittsborough.
Q: What did the original landscape of Pittsboro look like?
A: In its early years, Pittsboro was constructed of 125 lots surrounding a public square, which was centered between four streets. As the public square was the central meeting place for town citizens, inns and taverns were spread throughout the area. Soon, an open market was created for farmers, jewelry makers, musicians and medical practitioners.
Q: When was the Chatham County Courthouse established in Pittsboro?
A: The courthouse was built in 1881 in the public square for $10,666. What a steal!
Q: How many buildings are located in Pittsboro’s Historic District?
A: Within the 59 acres, there are 92 principal buildings, 39 outbuildings and three cemeteries.
Now that you know a bit more about your local surroundings, have a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday!