I first learned that I had ties to Chatham County as I looked through my great-grandmother’s old Bible. I found an obituary for my great-great-grandfather tucked into it. He was a native of Bear Creek; he later moved to Alamance County, but his brother and his son remained in Chatham – Siler City, to be specific. I moved from Alamance to Chatham, continuing the cycle.
Whether you have deep roots or are newly planted here, I think you will be excited to learn more about Chatham’s past in this issue. In these pages, we kick off the celebration of the county’s 250th anniversary. Discover a condensed version of our lengthy history on page 26. Meet the artist behind the official Chatham 250 logo on page 30. Flip to page 38 for a historic look at the rivers, farms, streams and trading routes that established Pittsboro as the seat of the county.
After looking back, we look forward to the new developments and changes that are happening in Chatham. Leaders share their hopes for Chatham’s future on page 30, and we meet with several developers on page 46 who have big plans that are adapting quickly from lessons learned in this past year.
You’ll find our annual updated camp guide on page 65 and, in keeping with the theme of Chatham’s 250th anniversary, you can also learn about families who have lived here for generations and how Chatham’s school system has changed over the years beginning on page 56.
My journey back to Chatham brought me full circle, and I’ve made it my home for 21 years. I look forward to sharing this issue with my aunts, uncles and cousins in Alamance so that they, too, can feel more connected to this land and our community. – Chris Elkins, publisher
22 Ways to Celebrate the Semiquincentennial
Honor the 250th anniversary of Chatham County by checking some of these cultural events, historical activities and fun excursions off your 2021 to-do list
26 Moments in Time
A brief history of Chatham County
30 Putting Her Stamp on Chatham
Sally Gregoire’s winning logo design for Chatham’s 250th anniversary commemoration captures the spirit of the county
34 Past and Future Tense
Jon Spoon is an artist and also the director of continuing education for Central Carolina Community College. He shares his own local history and hopes for the county.
38 On the Map
The roads, rivers and railways that built our county
42 Lives Lived
Nine tombstones in Fearrington Village near Galloway Ridge tell the story of the Smith and Jones families
46 The Next 250
Local leaders share what they see in Chatham’s future
56 Family Trees
Longtime Chathamites remember their roots
62 Building Blocks of Education
From a one-room schoolhouse to 18 schools and 8,810 students
78 This Old House
The stories behind five historic Chatham homes
48 Here We Grow Again
Developers share updates on local projects and how the pandemic factors in to those plans
65 Summer Camp Guide
There are dozens of camps in the Triangle to match every kid’s interest
74 The Enchanted Forrest
Forrest Greenslade built a whimsical sculpture trail behind his home in the woods of Fearrington Village
DEPARTMENTS & COLUMNS
What we’ve heard around our towns …
Langdon & Richardson
Cohen & Herchler