County's Historical Content Committee launches ‘LEARN’ site

Posted 8/18/21

PITTSBORO — As Chatham County’s 250th anniversary celebrations continue, the Chatham 250 Historical Content Committee — a volunteer group made up of community leaders, elders, and historians …

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County's Historical Content Committee launches ‘LEARN’ site

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PITTSBORO — As Chatham County’s 250th anniversary celebrations continue, the Chatham 250 Historical Content Committee — a volunteer group made up of community leaders, elders, and historians from across Chatham County — is proud to launch the “LEARN” section of the Chatham 250 website.

This LEARN section features community history projects created by the committee in honor of the anniversary celebrations. The four projects are inspired by the Chatham 250 celebration themes of Community and Diversity, Creative Arts, Natural Environment, and Agriculture. Over the last year, each project team within the Chatham 250 Historical Content Committee worked diligently to gather historical images, documents, news clippings, and oral histories. The LEARN section of the Chatham 250 website is the culminating showcase for presenting this thoughtfully collected history.

“Our Historical Content Committee, led by Ernest Dollar (director of the City of Raleigh Museum) and Annie McCrimmon (Community Historian of the Union-Taylor Community) has done amazing work to create the content found on the LEARN section of the Chatham 250 website,” said Renee Paschal, Chatham 250 Co-Chairperson and Chatham County Council on Aging board member. “We could not have met the goals of our celebration to document the last 50 years of the county’s history and to tell the stories of our communities of color without their diligent work.”

Church and Communities Project

The Church and Communities Project is an opportunity to look back at where the many communities in Chatham County have come from and learn about their stories. On the project page, visitors can browse the collection of more than 40 Chatham County church histories, including songs, photos, artworks and histories.

Annie McCrimmon, of Taylors Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, led the extensive outreach effort to collect the histories of Chatham County faith communities. “I wanted the (Historical Content) Committee to collect the histories of Chatham’s churches and communities. I know firsthand the strength of heart and determination of Chatham’s rural folks and church founders,” McCrimmon said. “Chatham’s Church and Communities Project promises to allow us a look back at where we have come from and an assurance we can, as Christ’s church, get to where we should be from here.”

Chatham Artist Profiles

Chatham County is and has been the home to a vibrant and diverse creative arts scene for many years. The Chatham Artist Profiles highlight a series of past, current and emerging artists from a diverse range of creative disciplines, backgrounds and experiences.

“(Chatham’s artist community) derives its unique flavor from the distinctive and diverse backgrounds of our residents and their interactions with each other and with the environment,” said Gina Harrison, president of the Chatham Artists Guild and a member of the Chatham Artist Profiles project team. “As our group developed a framework for the cultural profiles, we were fortunate to have members from the Historical Association, the public library and the current arts and arts education communities. While the profiles only scratch the surface, visitors can explore and learn more about this goldmine of artistic talent in our own backyard.”

Jordan Lake Project

The Jordan Lake Project invites visitors to take a step back into time to remember how recent Jordan Lake’s history really is and honor the many ways the community has come to cherish the lake today. Residents can also learn about the people and communities who used to live where the lake now stands from recently conducted oral histories and an extensive archival photo gallery.

“I think it’s important that we share the history and stories of B. Everett Jordan Dam and Lake,” said Blake Johnson, Natural Resource Specialist with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at B. Everett Jordan Lake and member of the Jordan Lake Project team. “History is a living thing, and while what people may find here [in the Jordan Lake Project] is ‘in the past,’ it is still very real (today) — especially for many Chatham residents who were here during the formation of the lake.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers generously shared a robust archive of digital images. The images offer a detailed view of the lake before the construction and flooding of the dam, the dedication ceremony, and the early days of the lake after the initial flooding of the dam.

“I think it’s important to be an active and present partner and be open with our history so we can work together in shaping our shared future moving forward,” added Johnson.

Poultry Industry Timeline

For the last 100 years in Chatham County, poultry farming and processing have been a main part of the agricultural industry — one of Chatham County’s primary industries. The Poultry Industry Timeline displays a collection of articles and historical photos chronicling the history of this important industry in Chatham.

Tiffany Hancock, marketing and media support specialist with N.C. Cooperative Extension – Chatham County Center, led the research efforts on this project.

“I worked with Cindy Schmidt from the Chatham Historical Association on this project. Chatham County has been a leader in the poultry industry for several decades, so we felt that it was important to include this part of history in the Chatham 250 celebrations,” Hancock said.

Chatham 250’s Historical Content Committee hopes that Chathamites will take a moment to visit the LEARN section to discover more about the county’s history during this milestone. Chatham 250 is working closely with the Chatham Historical Association to preserve the materials collected through the projects for future generations to reference and learn from.

Chatham 250 has also celebrated Chatham County’s history throughout 2021 with the Chatham County Histories of Communities of Color Lecture Series hosted by the Chatham Community Library, and with the recent virtual event “A Look Into Chatham’s Past” with Chatham resident and Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Ella Sullivan.

Anyone with questions may contact Hilary Pollan, Chatham 250 Project Manager, at hilary.pollan@chathamcountync.gov. Information about events and other ways to celebrate Chatham County’s 250th anniversary can be found at chatham250.com.

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