This week we say goodbye to our proud, strutting rooster friend with the third and final article chronicling the arrival of the railroad in Pittsboro. Fortunately, Railroad Rooster knew how to go out in style – with a giant party the likes of which the town had never seen before! I’m sad to report that almost half of the Chatham Record article about the party (a whopping two full-page columns long!) is faded and difficult or impossible to read, but thanks to the Chatham County Historical Association and the wonderful book Chatham County 1771-1971 by Hadley, Horton, and Strowd, I was able to fill in some of the missing details.
May 26, 1887:
A GRAND OCCASION!!
A Great Success — An Immense Crowd — Sumptuous Dinner — Eloquent Speeches — Military Parade, Etc.
On last Friday, the 20th inst., the long expected celebration was held at this place in honor of the construction of the Pittsboro railroad, and we are happy to state that it was a complete success in every particular, and was the grandest occasion ever known in the history of our old town, an occasion indeed worthy of the important event it commemorated. The weather was perfect — as delightful as could have been desired — the crowd was immense and all so orderly, the dinner was worthy of our well-known hospitality, the speeches were as eloquent as any have ever heard on similar occasions, the brass bands discoursed inspiring music, and two military companies contributed their attractions. It was a day and occasion that will never be forgotten by those who enjoyed it, and marks the dawn of a new and brighter era in the history of our ancient Borough!
It was the largest gathering the county had seen since the civil war, with attendance was estimated to be between 2,000 and 4,000 people. The daytime festivities were held at Kelvin Grove, a grand meal was served to 2,500 people, and in the evening a ball took place in the railroad warehouse. The article goes on to list famous speakers in attendance (such as Henry A. London, president of the railroad), describe the performances by the three brass bands and two military companies, and praised the orderly behavior of the attendees and the great planning skills of the committees responsible.
With such a celebration in the day and such a ball at night, is it any wonder that the RECORD’S rooster crows its loudest?
To read the full article, including the eloquent praise of the military drill companies and the full list of speakers, come to the Chatham Community Library and view our microfilm collection of Chatham Record back issues! Need help with microfilm? Feel free to ask the reference staff.
I’ll close our railroad trilogy with a quote from the Chatham County Historical Association’s article about the railroad. An out-of-town visitor wrote the following to the president of the railroad:
“…..I am persuaded that Pittsboro deserves her reputation for refined hospitality. The State is far richer for having brought such clever, nice people closer to the balance of mankind.”