Tag Archives: historical import

The Historical Chatham Record

ChathamRecord_BannerLongtime readers of the library blog know that we often featured excerpts from historical editions of the Chatham Record.  But did you know that you can now peruse many of these editions from the comfort of your own computer?  Digital NC, a joint effort of many North Carolina libraries, colleges, museums, and historical associations, has published a number of issues online; you may find them by clicking here.  Do let us know what you find, so we can share it with our blog audience!


More Dubious Advice from the Chatham Record

of December 31, 1903.  Hopefully you won’t need this one anytime soon. . .

MeatArticle_Dec31_1903“Household Matters: To Improve Meat Beginning to Spoil

Have water ready in a saucepan, also two pieces of burnt wood – that is, charred. Put the meat in the boiling water, and put the burnt wood in the fire till it gets red, then drop into the pot. When the fire is extinguished take off the saucepan, skim it, remove the meat.”

Actually, this method sounds very similar to early American soap-making techniques that rely on the natural production of lye from wood ash.  I suppose lye probably would stop meat from decomposing, but it’s telling that this recipe makes no mention of how it tastes in the end.

The First Record on Record

The first edition of The Chatham Record the library owns on microfilm is the one seen below from March 6, 1879 (click on the image if you’d like to see a larger version):

As you can see, our collection is lacking the first 24 issues of the paper.  Still and all, 133 years worth of newspapers is no small resource for anyone interested in the history of Pittsboro, its environs, and its depiction in its local media.

This particular issue, like many from the late 1800s, offers a somewhat bizarre amalgam of fiction, poetry, editorial opinion, advertising, and even the occasional news item.  Not many news outlets today would choose to run a poem lamenting the plight of orphaned children on their front page! The exposé on impurities in foods, just under the banner, is more like what you might expect to find in a contemporary newspaper.

If you are interested in learning more about Pittsboro’s history, the changing nature of news media over the decades, or other local, historical matters, please drop by the Chatham Community Library!

Railroad Rooster Knows How to Party

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 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.”

Railroad Rooster Takes Chatham by Storm

Image of a news article from 1885, complete with an image of a very proud-looking rooster, describing the arrival of the first passenger train in Pittsboro.Once again highlighting the antics of our very proud Railroad Rooster, we follow up on last week’s article about the building of the Chatham County railroad with this one celebrating the arrival of the first passenger train in Pittsboro. It paints a beautiful picture of the community coming together to welcome the first great steam engine, and also gives us a small glimpse of transportation before the time of the railroad.

December 23, 1886:




It affords us the greatest pleasure to announce that on last Monday night the first passenger train on the Pittsboro railroad arrived at this place! Yes, at last our old town has a railroad upon which passenger and freight trains are daily running, and we are in close connection with the rest of the world. Of course so important an event as the arrival of the first passenger train created quite a sensation in our town, and everybody was on the tiptoe of excitement. The train was due here at a quarter past seven o’clock, and a large crowd of our citizens, white and black, old and young, assembled at the depot lot to see it arrive. It was an eager, happy throng, and when the whistle of the locomotive blew long and sharp, announcing the approach of the train, every one’s pulse beat faster, and away in the distance their straining eyes saw the headlight of the locomotive piercing the surrounding darkness. In a few moments the train came rushing up, and as it stopped a long and loud shout when up from the crowd, and there was a general hurrahing and rejoicing. And well might they hurrah and rejoice! Never before have our citizens had such cause for rejoicing. The dream of years had been at last fulfilled, and our long deferred hopes finally realized. Some of the public spirited ladies had made wreaths of evergreens, with which they festooned and decorated the train, and the young folks expressed their joy by having a pleasant dance at the Turner Hotel.


The first train to leave here started at 7 o’clock Tuesday morning, and we enjoyed the pleasure of riding on it to Raleigh, and as we rapidly glided along, seated in a comfortable coach, we could scarcely realize that we were traveling between Pittsboro and Moncure. It was a most peculiar as well as pleasant sensation. Year after year we had travelled the county road between Pittsboro and Moncure at all hours of the day and night, in all kinds of weather and in all styles of vehicles. We had travelled it on foot, on horseback, in wagons, hacks, carriages and buggies. We had been nearly blistered by the summer’s sun and almost frozen by the winter’s cold. But all that is now past, never to return! And so, on last Tuesday morning as we sat in a warm and comfortable coach speeding along, we could not refrain from recalling some of our past journeys to Moncure and comparing them with this.

Up next: Railroad Rooster, the epic conclusion – which just happens to be a big party in his honor. Tune in next week: same rooster time, same rooster channel. We hope to see you then.

Railroad Rooster Struts His Stuff

We are excited to announce that our hiatus is over and you can once again look forward to your Monday evening time travel with CCL on the Record! We return with an historic moment in Chatham County history:

It is with feelings of peculiar pride and pleasure that we are enabled to announce that our proposed railroad is now an assured fact.

[…] soon dirt will begin to fly, and in a few months the whistle of the locomotive will awaken our old town!  HURRAH FOR OUR RAILROAD!

Doesn’t the rooster just make you feel the pride?

This short article from October 22nd, 1885 rings with enthusiasm over the arrival of the railroad in Chatham County. A little research revealed that the railroad was completed just a little over a year later, with the first passenger train arrived on December 20th, 1886. The official celebration of the railroad wasn’t held until May 20th of 1887.* Of course, The Chatham Record was right there every step of the way, and so over the next two weeks we will feature two more articles from The Record covering this landmark event in county history.

*This information came from a book titled Chatham County 1771-1971 by Hadley, Horton, and Strowd.  Interested in local history? Find this book on our shelves in the Local History and Genealogy section: LHG 975.659 CHA. Ask us about it at the library!

Out With a Bang

In these turbulent times, it’s strangely comforting to find evidence that political histrionics are nothing new; in fact, they are part of a long and venerable tradition.  From the Chatham Record of 1 April 1880, it appears that the more things change, the more they stay the same:

Turner Expelled

The public generally will heartily approve of the action of the House of Representatives in expelling Joe Turner, and the only wonder is that he was not expelled long ago.  His oft repeated violation of all decorum, his reiterated insults offered to the House, and his disorderly conduct have long since deserved the punishment of expulsion. He was finally expelled last Friday under the following circumstances.

He began to make a speech, but was using such improper language and behaving so disgracefully that the Speaker called him to order, whereupon he defied the Speaker and refused to stop.  A resolution was at once introduced to expel him which elicited much discussion, and finally this was withdrawn and another resolution passed ordering him to be arraigned at the bar of the House and be publically reprimanded by the Speaker. 

As soon as this resolution was passed Turner spoke at length, abusing the Speaker and the House, and unceremoniously took his departure, whereupon a resolution of expulsion was immediately introduced and adopted.

It is said that Turner has been eagerly desiring to be expelled, so that he might appear as a martyr, and as one who had been persecuted by the “ring”, and we are truly rejoiced that he is at last gratified, for he is quite welcome to all the “capital” that he can make out of his expulsion.

Local News: 4 March 1886

An assortment of reports on local events provides a colorful glimpse into everyday life in Chatham County in the 1880s.  And some great news for A. A. McKethan!

Thursday, March 4, 1886: Local Records

~ The March winds are drying the roads rapidly.

~ Mr. W. R. Edgerton has sold his “Hailbron” farm, near this place, to Mr. John R. Smith, of Goldsboro.

~ There were 9 marriage licenses issued in this county last month, of which 4 were to whites and 5 to blacks.

~While the March winds blow fires are especially dangerous, and every prudent man ought to insure his dwelling.

~Quite a large crowd was in town on last Monday to attend the meeting of county commissioners and magistrates.

~Three boys, the grandsons of Mr. W. G. Harris, arrived at their grandfather’s last week all the way from Arizona.

~Dr. H. T. Chapin has returned from the Louisville Medical College a full-fledged M.D. ready to kill or cure: and Dr. H.C. Jackson has also received a diploma from the same institution.

~We take pleasure in noting another proof of Siler’s growing prosperity, in the establishment of a [?] drug store there by our [?] countrymen, Messrs. E. D. & B. N. Mann, whose advertisement appears in another column.

~ It affords us much pleasure to be able to correct the statement that the venerable A. A. McKethan, of Fayetteville, is dead. We published last week the announcement of his death, on what was supposed to be reliable authority. His health is somewhat better now than it has been.

The Record promotes the Record

1878 – 1886. The Record, established eight years ago, is now a permanent institution, and deserves the encouragement of every citizen of Chatham County. It not only keeps the people of Chatham thoroughly informed as to all their county affairs, but also gives the latest and fullest news from all parts of North Carolina and the United States.

That encouragement must have worked, because another 125 years later, The Record is still going strong.