Tag Archives: Pittsboro

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!


All’s Well That Ends Well

From March 2, 1933:

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!

X-Files: Pittsboro Edition

On August 8, 1952, the Chatham Record reported strange doings in the Pittsboro sky:

It’s too bad the object disappeared before Reverend Maness could take a gander at it; it might have saved Mr. Morgan some ribbing over the next few weeks if he’d had such an unimpeachable witness to back up his claim.  Still, it’s not everyone who has the gumption to run an account of their own personal UFO sighting on the front page of the local newspaper.

Library History Finale

To wrap up our four-week series on the history of the Pittsboro Memorial Library, nothing seems more appropriate than this article on the humble beginnings of library service in Pittsboro. It’s hard to believe that we’ve gone from a few shelves in a living room to a sustainably-built 25,000 square foot beauty! We owe much to the citizens who first dreamed of a library in Pittsboro and the friends and sponsors who have brought us to where we are today.

Click the image to enlarge for easier reading. Below the article, you’ll find links to even more photos and writings about the Pittsboro Memorial Library’s dedication ceremony, building, and more. We hope you’ve enjoyed this blast from the library past!

Library Dedication Attracts Hundreds (Part One) (Part Two) (Photo)
New Library Required Hard Work and Generosity (Part One) (Part Two)

See you next week!


More Than Just Books

As we continue highlighting the media coverage of the “old new” library, it’s interesting to note how much has changed since then.  The article below proudly boasts of the “magazines, records, tapes, and films” that were available at the Pittsboro Library of the 1970s.

Looking for something to do on a Friday night? The library had you covered – you could check out an 8mm or a 16mm film to watch at home, along with the projector and screen you’d need to watch it.  Hankering for the latest Marvin Gaye or Lynyrd Skynyrd album?  They had that, too – on vinyl, of course!

These days you’re more likely to take home a DVD, a CD, or simply download an Ebook to your Kindle or iPod.  Still, it’s nice to know that even though the format may have changed, the library has always Pittsboro’s go-to source for “more than just books”.

It’s Good to Have Friends!

Continuing on with the opening of the Pittsboro Memorial Library in 1973, you can see below the architect’s sketch of the new library building. Below that, read the article about how the Friends of the Library made it all happen! If you’d like  more information about the present day Friends of the Library group, please visit their website. Finally, the bottom image describes some of the features of the new Pittsboro Memorial Library. Pretty stylish! Click any of the  images to enlarge. See you next week!

A New Library for Pittsboro

The cover story of the August 9, 1973 issue of the Chatham Record featured none other than our esteemed predecessor, the Pittsboro Memorial Library! The next few entries will chronicle a bit of library history, from the construction and opening of the Pittsboro Memorial Library to our bright and spacious young Chatham Community Library. Click on the image below to read the full article about the groundbreaking of the Pittsboro Memorial Library and what it meant to the community.

More to come next week! Check back every Monday at 4:30pm, or subscribe to CCL on the Record via RSS.

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.