Chatham County


Named after William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, and known as “the defender of American rights in British Parliament,” Chatham County was formed in 1771 from a portion of Orange County. Close to Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham, Chatham County has been an increasingly popular county to reside.

Historically, Chatham’s economy was predominantly agrarian. Early flooding resulted in rich red clay soil primed for farming. By the 1960s, Chatham was a leading producer of poultry in the South and is currently ranked first in statewide production of beef and number five for hay.

From 1880-1950, Chatham was also, interestingly, renowned for its rabbits. The county was overrun by large rabbits that resembled more closely the Australian jackrabbit. The Chatham rabbit found its way into restaurants all the way to New England and by 1905, 40,000 rabbits were sold in Siler City.

While Chatham is predominantly known for agriculture, the county is also home to the largest coal deposit in the state. While the Deep River Coal Field was mined until the 1950s, the County’s history of coal is largely remembered for the Coal Glen Mine explosions in 1925. Resulting in the death of 53 miners, the explosions are regarded as one of the deadliest industrial accidents in the state’s history.

Chatham County is also home to a summertime favorite of many in the Triangle, Jordan Lake. The County’s lake was created in the 1960s to act as a reservoir in response to frequent flooding. In order to create the dam which would ultimately become Jordan Lake, the government was forced to buy up all homesteads and property in the New Hope Valley. If you go scuba-diving today, you may still be able to see structural remnants of the old village which still exist at the bottom of the lake.

Politically, Chatham favors Democrats. In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried the county with 53% of the vote to Donald Trump’s 43%. In 2020, President Biden performed two points better than Clinton, receiving 55% of the vote to Trump’s 44%. The last GOP presidential candidate to carry Chatham was Ronald Regan in 1984.


County Seat: Pittsboro
Biggest Cities:

Siler City, Pittsboro, Briar Chapel, Fearrington Village, Moncure, Governors Village

Media Market: Raleigh-Durham

Elected Officials

County Data