Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is best known as a quintessential college town and is home to the flagship campus in the University of North Carolina system.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, or the Town of Chapel Hill, is located in Orange County and Durham County. Chapel Hill was founded in 1793 and today the town encompasses an area of 21.3 square miles. The town of Chapel Hill was chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1819. The town’s main thoroughfare is Franklin Street. Legend has it that Chapel Hill’s name derives from there once being an Anglican Church of England chapel located on the campus. The zip code for Chapel Hill is 27514. 

The first recorded inhabitants of what is now Orange County, North Carolina, were members of the Occaneechi, Shoccoree, and Eno native American tribes. John Lawson (December 27, 1674 – September 16, 1711), was the first English explorer of the Carolina backcountry, or at least the first explorer to publish a journal of his explorations. While traveling along the Great Trading Path in 1701, Lawson encountered an Occaneechi village. He referred to this village as Achonechy in his book, A New Voyage to Carolina, and it was located in what would eventually be Orange County. From John Lawson’s journal, “Their Cabins were hung with a good sort of Tapestry, as fat Bear, and barbakued or dried Venison; no

Indians having greater Plenty of Provisions than these.”

Lawson soon moved on from the Occaneechi village to a village of Shoccoree and Eno Indians. He referred to this village as Adshusheer in his journal. This village was around 14 miles east of the Occaneechi village and located on the Eno River, near present-day Hillsboro.

By the 1720s, the native American tribes in Orange County had mostly either died off because of European diseases they did not have immunity from, or because of warfare with other Indian tribes. A limited number of these Indians migrated to other regions to escape the warring Indian factions and conflicts with encroaching European settlers.   

The declining native American inhabitants of Orange County were slowly replaced primarily by the Scotch-Irish and German settlers beginning in the 1740s. With the majority of these European settlers traveling down from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania via the “Great Wagon Road.” Most of these European immigrants during this time period were farmers. While many farmers in rural areas of North Carolina were subsistent farmers, this was reportedly not the case in Orange County. Reportedly, 75% of free inhabitants owning land during the 18th century owned parcels between 100 and 500 acres. Less than 5% of landowners in Orange County owned in excess of 1,000 acres.

The General Assembly formed Orange County from parts of Bladen, Granville, and Johnston Counties in 1752. This new county was still a large county in area, but this was not uncommon for the colonial period in North Carolina. This formation was a result of the area’s population increase from 1740 to 1752. The county residents were clamoring for a closer county seat and courthouse. The county’s namesake was King George II’s grandchild, William V of Orange.

Orange County underwent a size reduction in 1771. Guildford County was formed from the western part of Orange County and the eastern part of Rowan County. The southern part of Orange County was divided off to form Chatham County. An eastern part of Orange County, and parts of Cumberland County, and Johnston County were combined to form Wake County.

The northern half of Orange County was divided into Caswell County in 1777. The western third of the county was divided to make Alamance County in 1849. The last reduction in the area of Orange County came in 1881 when the eastern half of the county was combined with the western part of Wake County to form the County of Durham.     

Hillsborough was founded as the county seat in 1754. The town sits next to the Eno River where the Great Indian Trading Path crossed the river. The town was named after Wills Hill, the Earl of Hillsborough, the British secretary of state for the American colonies.

Hillsborough and Orange County were a hotbed for pre-American Revolutionary civil unrest. In the mid- 1760s there was a great deal of tension between farmers and the government officials that the farmers felt were corrupt. This conflict became known as the Regulator movement, or the War of the Regulation. The conflict was fueled by farmers being unable to pay their taxes, and sheriffs being able to seize property for personal gain. The War of the Regulation was from 1764 until 1771.

The origins of Chapel Hill go back to John Carteret’s, 2nd Earl Granville. Carteret inherited from his great-grandfather Sir George Carteret a one-eight share in the Province of Carolina. John Carteret learned in 1727 and 1728 that the owners of the other Province of Carolina shares were going to sale their shares back to the King of England. John Carteret refused to sale his shares when the other shareholders sold in 1729. As a condition to keeping his share, in 1730, John Carteret had to abandon any role in the colonial  government thereafter. North Carolina Royal Governor Gabriel Johnston, considered by many scholars the best royal governor, is reported to have said, “Granville not only had more than half the province but that he had the better half.”

Carteret’s share, which became known as the Granville District, was later drawn as a sixty-mile-wide strip of land from the Province of Virginia border south sixty miles. At one time, the Granville District’s total land allotment was nearly half the state of North Carolina. The Granville District remained in the hands of Sir George Carteret’s descendants until the 1776 death of John Carteret’s son Robert. 

The North Carolina Provisional Assembly in 1777 declared all the land within the state of North Carolina sovereign land. However, the Assembly did recognize land grand claims granted by the King of England and the proprietors before July 4, 1776. The Assembly called for the confiscation of all lands and property of all supporters of the British. In 1777, Granville’s lands were confiscated by the state. After the American Revolution, the Carteret heirs were compensated by the Crown for their lost land.

Before the American Revolution, the town that would become Chapel Hill was part of a John Carteret, 2nd Earl of Granville’s, land grant to William Barbee (About 1660 – March 7, 1720). William Barbee, originally from Middlesex County, Virginia, was an early settler to the area that would become Chapel Hill. In his first of two land grants in 1753, William Barbee received 585 acres. This first grant of 585 acres is now where the Rizzo Conference Center is located. In 1757, the year before his death, William Barbee received his second grant that increased his land holdings to over 900 acres in Orange County. While William Barbee died after only being a landowner in what would be Chapel Hill and Durham, he was instrumental in settling and developing the area.

With William Barbee’s death, one of his eight children, Christopher “Old Kit” Barbee (About 1743 – Before May 1834) received the first of three land grants. Through the years Christopher Barbee added to his land holdings and by 1787 he owned more than 2,145 acres. In the late 18th century on a hilltop on these land holdings of Christopher Barbee, he built a magnificent home and working plantation. This area is known today as Meadowmont. 

Where this plantation home once stood is now where the Kenan-Flagler’s Paul J. Rizzo Conference Center is located today. What remains from this antebellum period is the Barbee family cemetery located on the southeastern side of the hilltop. The cemetery is the resting place for at least 120 human remains, being most likely comprised of Barbee family members and their plantation slaves.

There is also a small stone foundation located on the north side of the hilltop that was once believed to be part of the original late 18th – century plantation home construction. Further research has indicated this foundation was part of a structure constructed in the 19th century, most likely pre–American Civil War. So, unlikely whatever structure was once upon this foundation was built during Christopher Barbee’s initial plantation construction.

The North Carolina General Assembly being convened in Fayetteville, North Carolina on December 11, 1789 chartered the first public institute of higher learning in the United States, The University of North Carolina. While the genesis of the university was conceived, the location for the birth was up for much debate by the General Assembly and other interested parties. Two factors probably convincingly tilted the university’s board of trustees discussion of selecting the location of Chapel Hill, the centralized location within the state and Christopher Barbee putting forth an offer to donate 221 acres for the new university. Christopher Barbee’s home at Meadowmont was just three miles east of the future campus. 

Christopher Barbee’s donation of the land on November 8, 1792 to the University of North Carolina formed the basis of the University of North Carolina. On this donated land were the ruins of a chapel, near where the university’s first cornerstone was laid on October 12, 1793 in the East Building, now known as “Old East.” The University of North Carolina’s first enrollment was on February 12,1795 with that first semester’s enrollment being just 41 students. The current annual enrollment is now over 30,000 students. The initial campus being 221 acres has expanded to 729 acres.

One of the major economic drivers in Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas is the Research Triangle Park (RTP). The origins of the RTP can be traced back to post World War II and the need to reimagine the economy of North Carolina. North Carolina was not in a good position to prosper utilizing the current economic systems going forward. This was because the traditional economic systems of this primarily rural state were dependent on textiles and agriculture. 

In the 1950s, colleges in North Carolina were overflowing with students seeking education from institutions of higher learning. The colleges were producing a higher educated workforce and the state business environment needed to reimage the current business systems and attract new businesses to utilize this new educated workforce.  

Academics from North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina realized that the technological innovations developed during the war and the modernization that was taking place was going to alter the economy and workforce within the state. Originally this led to academics at North Carolina State University and Duke University working together and developing the concept of a “park” so that both universities could do research together. 

In 1959, the Research Triangle Park was established. The “Triangle” in Research Triangle Park derives from the three leading research higher educational institutes in the area, Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Research Triangle Park is the largest research park in the United States and one of the largest in the world. RTP is home to more than 200 global companies including SAS Institute, Verizon, Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Met Life, ABB, Inc., HCL American, and American Airlines.

Historical population

Census Pop. %±

1880 831 —

1890 1,017 22.4%

1900 1,099 8.1%

1910 1,149 4.5%

1920 1,483 29.1%

1930 2,699 82.0%

1940 3,654 35.4%

1950 9,177 151.1%

1960 12,573 37.0%

1970 26,199 108.4%

1980 32,421 23.7%

1990 38,719 19.4%

2000 48,715 25.8%

2010 57,233 17.5%

2019 (est.) 64,051 [3] 11.9%

Chapel Hill is located from Raleigh, NC (28 Miles), Durham, NC (12 Miles), Charlotte (139 Miles), and Washington, DC (271 Miles). 

The most convenient airport for Chapel Hill is through Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). The following airlines serve Raleigh-Durham: Air Canada Express, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, American Eagle, Delta Air Lines, Delta Connection, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, and United Express. Cary has an Amtrak station with regular service.

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Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is best known as a quintessential college town and is home to the flagship campus in the University of North Carolina system.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, or the Town of Chapel Hill, is located in Orange County and Durham County. Chapel Hill was founded in 1793 and today the town encompasses an area of 21.3 square miles. The town of Chapel Hill was chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1819. The town’s main thoroughfare is Franklin Street. Legend has it that Chapel Hill’s name derives from there once being an Anglican Church of England chapel located on the campus. The zip code for Chapel Hill is 27514. 

The first recorded inhabitants of what is now Orange County, North Carolina, were members of the Occaneechi, Shoccoree, and Eno native American tribes. John Lawson (December 27, 1674 – September 16, 1711), was the first English explorer of the Carolina backcountry, or at least the first explorer to publish a journal of his explorations. While traveling along the Great Trading Path in 1701, Lawson encountered an Occaneechi village. He referred to this village as Achonechy in his book, A New Voyage to Carolina, and it was located in what would eventually be Orange County. From John Lawson’s journal, “Their Cabins were hung with a good sort of Tapestry, as fat Bear, and barbakued or dried Venison; no

Indians having greater Plenty of Provisions than these.”

Lawson soon moved on from the Occaneechi village to a village of Shoccoree and Eno Indians. He referred to this village as Adshusheer in his journal. This village was around 14 miles east of the Occaneechi village and located on the Eno River, near present-day Hillsboro.

By the 1720s, the native American tribes in Orange County had mostly either died off because of European diseases they did not have immunity from, or because of warfare with other Indian tribes. A limited number of these Indians migrated to other regions to escape the warring Indian factions and conflicts with encroaching European settlers.   

The declining native American inhabitants of Orange County were slowly replaced primarily by the Scotch-Irish and German settlers beginning in the 1740s. With the majority of these European settlers traveling down from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania via the “Great Wagon Road.” Most of these European immigrants during this time period were farmers. While many farmers in rural areas of North Carolina were subsistent farmers, this was reportedly not the case in Orange County. Reportedly, 75% of free inhabitants owning land during the 18th century owned parcels between 100 and 500 acres. Less than 5% of landowners in Orange County owned in excess of 1,000 acres.

The General Assembly formed Orange County from parts of Bladen, Granville, and Johnston Counties in 1752. This new county was still a large county in area, but this was not uncommon for the colonial period in North Carolina. This formation was a result of the area’s population increase from 1740 to 1752. The county residents were clamoring for a closer county seat and courthouse. The county’s namesake was King George II’s grandchild, William V of Orange.

Orange County underwent a size reduction in 1771. Guildford County was formed from the western part of Orange County and the eastern part of Rowan County. The southern part of Orange County was divided off to form Chatham County. An eastern part of Orange County, and parts of Cumberland County, and Johnston County were combined to form Wake County.

The northern half of Orange County was divided into Caswell County in 1777. The western third of the county was divided to make Alamance County in 1849. The last reduction in the area of Orange County came in 1881 when the eastern half of the county was combined with the western part of Wake County to form the County of Durham.     

Hillsborough was founded as the county seat in 1754. The town sits next to the Eno River where the Great Indian Trading Path crossed the river. The town was named after Wills Hill, the Earl of Hillsborough, the British secretary of state for the American colonies.

Hillsborough and Orange County were a hotbed for pre-American Revolutionary civil unrest. In the mid- 1760s there was a great deal of tension between farmers and the government officials that the farmers felt were corrupt. This conflict became known as the Regulator movement, or the War of the Regulation. The conflict was fueled by farmers being unable to pay their taxes, and sheriffs being able to seize property for personal gain. The War of the Regulation was from 1764 until 1771.

The origins of Chapel Hill go back to John Carteret’s, 2nd Earl Granville. Carteret inherited from his great-grandfather Sir George Carteret a one-eight share in the Province of Carolina. John Carteret learned in 1727 and 1728 that the owners of the other Province of Carolina shares were going to sale their shares back to the King of England. John Carteret refused to sale his shares when the other shareholders sold in 1729. As a condition to keeping his share, in 1730, John Carteret had to abandon any role in the colonial  government thereafter. North Carolina Royal Governor Gabriel Johnston, considered by many scholars the best royal governor, is reported to have said, “Granville not only had more than half the province but that he had the better half.”

Carteret’s share, which became known as the Granville District, was later drawn as a sixty-mile-wide strip of land from the Province of Virginia border south sixty miles. At one time, the Granville District’s total land allotment was nearly half the state of North Carolina. The Granville District remained in the hands of Sir George Carteret’s descendants until the 1776 death of John Carteret’s son Robert. 

The North Carolina Provisional Assembly in 1777 declared all the land within the state of North Carolina sovereign land. However, the Assembly did recognize land grand claims granted by the King of England and the proprietors before July 4, 1776. The Assembly called for the confiscation of all lands and property of all supporters of the British. In 1777, Granville’s lands were confiscated by the state. After the American Revolution, the Carteret heirs were compensated by the Crown for their lost land.

Before the American Revolution, the town that would become Chapel Hill was part of a John Carteret, 2nd Earl of Granville’s, land grant to William Barbee (About 1660 – March 7, 1720). William Barbee, originally from Middlesex County, Virginia, was an early settler to the area that would become Chapel Hill. In his first of two land grants in 1753, William Barbee received 585 acres. This first grant of 585 acres is now where the Rizzo Conference Center is located. In 1757, the year before his death, William Barbee received his second grant that increased his land holdings to over 900 acres in Orange County. While William Barbee died after only being a landowner in what would be Chapel Hill and Durham, he was instrumental in settling and developing the area.

With William Barbee’s death, one of his eight children, Christopher “Old Kit” Barbee (About 1743 – Before May 1834) received the first of three land grants. Through the years Christopher Barbee added to his land holdings and by 1787 he owned more than 2,145 acres. In the late 18th century on a hilltop on these land holdings of Christopher Barbee, he built a magnificent home and working plantation. This area is known today as Meadowmont. 

Where this plantation home once stood is now where the Kenan-Flagler’s Paul J. Rizzo Conference Center is located today. What remains from this antebellum period is the Barbee family cemetery located on the southeastern side of the hilltop. The cemetery is the resting place for at least 120 human remains, being most likely comprised of Barbee family members and their plantation slaves.

There is also a small stone foundation located on the north side of the hilltop that was once believed to be part of the original late 18th – century plantation home construction. Further research has indicated this foundation was part of a structure constructed in the 19th century, most likely pre–American Civil War. So, unlikely whatever structure was once upon this foundation was built during Christopher Barbee’s initial plantation construction.

The North Carolina General Assembly being convened in Fayetteville, North Carolina on December 11, 1789 chartered the first public institute of higher learning in the United States, The University of North Carolina. While the genesis of the university was conceived, the location for the birth was up for much debate by the General Assembly and other interested parties. Two factors probably convincingly tilted the university’s board of trustees discussion of selecting the location of Chapel Hill, the centralized location within the state and Christopher Barbee putting forth an offer to donate 221 acres for the new university. Christopher Barbee’s home at Meadowmont was just three miles east of the future campus. 

Christopher Barbee’s donation of the land on November 8, 1792 to the University of North Carolina formed the basis of the University of North Carolina. On this donated land were the ruins of a chapel, near where the university’s first cornerstone was laid on October 12, 1793 in the East Building, now known as “Old East.” The University of North Carolina’s first enrollment was on February 12,1795 with that first semester’s enrollment being just 41 students. The current annual enrollment is now over 30,000 students. The initial campus being 221 acres has expanded to 729 acres.

One of the major economic drivers in Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas is the Research Triangle Park (RTP). The origins of the RTP can be traced back to post World War II and the need to reimagine the economy of North Carolina. North Carolina was not in a good position to prosper utilizing the current economic systems going forward. This was because the traditional economic systems of this primarily rural state were dependent on textiles and agriculture. 

In the 1950s, colleges in North Carolina were overflowing with students seeking education from institutions of higher learning. The colleges were producing a higher educated workforce and the state business environment needed to reimage the current business systems and attract new businesses to utilize this new educated workforce.  

Academics from North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina realized that the technological innovations developed during the war and the modernization that was taking place was going to alter the economy and workforce within the state. Originally this led to academics at North Carolina State University and Duke University working together and developing the concept of a “park” so that both universities could do research together. 

In 1959, the Research Triangle Park was established. The “Triangle” in Research Triangle Park derives from the three leading research higher educational institutes in the area, Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Research Triangle Park is the largest research park in the United States and one of the largest in the world. RTP is home to more than 200 global companies including SAS Institute, Verizon, Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Met Life, ABB, Inc., HCL American, and American Airlines.

Historical population

Census Pop. %±

1880 831 —

1890 1,017 22.4%

1900 1,099 8.1%

1910 1,149 4.5%

1920 1,483 29.1%

1930 2,699 82.0%

1940 3,654 35.4%

1950 9,177 151.1%

1960 12,573 37.0%

1970 26,199 108.4%

1980 32,421 23.7%

1990 38,719 19.4%

2000 48,715 25.8%

2010 57,233 17.5%

2019 (est.) 64,051 [3] 11.9%

Chapel Hill is located from Raleigh, NC (28 Miles), Durham, NC (12 Miles), Charlotte (139 Miles), and Washington, DC (271 Miles). 

The most convenient airport for Chapel Hill is through Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). The following airlines serve Raleigh-Durham: Air Canada Express, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, American Eagle, Delta Air Lines, Delta Connection, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, and United Express. Cary has an Amtrak station with regular service.

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