Sunday, January 3, 2010

Chatham County

On December 29, 2009, I took an afternoon trip down to Chatham County. I decided to bypass Fearrington, with its charming Fearrington Village, this time, and the county seat of Pittboro, a charming city in its own right, for the town of Siler City. I did this for a couple of weird reasons, really. I wanted to see if I could find Frances Bavier's grave, because I'm an "Andy Griffith Show" fan, and the Devil's Tramping Ground, because I love a good ghost story, and this location seems a little tricky to find.

It took me about an hour or so to get to Siler City, and I enjoyed the rural drive that, beyond Chapel Hill, took me past Fearrington Village with its silo and cows along the road, and only a hint of the fine shops, restaurants, and inn located there. Once I got to Siler City, I took pictures of several places around town, including a neat mural on the side of a brick building, and the the unassuming Hotel Hadley, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

After exploring downtown Siler City a bit, I decided to try to find Oakwood Cemetery, where Frances Bavier is buried. After one unsuccessrul attempt, I happened by a tombstone company, and stopped there to ask directions, figuring they'd know. The directions they gave me sounded simple, but didn't turn out to be as easy as I'd hoped. Thankfully, I was able to get the car pointed in the right direction within a few minutes, and finally found the cemetery. When I arrived at Oakwood Cemetery, I was both disappointed and relieved that there weren't any signs pointing to Frances Bavier's tombstone. I'd seen a picture of it online, and remembered that it was a little taller than usual, so I drove toward the back of the cemetery, spotting a couple of possibilities. I was glad to find it pretty quickly near the back. It was both thrilling and humbling to find Frances Bavier's grave and tombstone. Underneath her name and dates, is the quotation, "To live in the hearts of those left behind is not to die."

By then, it was getting pretty late in the afternoon, but I really wanted to try to get to the Devil's Tramping Ground. My directions took me south of Siler City, down country roads and past fields with cows. I finally found it, but was a little unimpressed. I couldn't get to the actual circle because of a big water puddle, but I could tell it was a little trashy looking. (The white dot you'll see in the picture below is a white plastic milk jug.) I was hoping it would feel spooky or something, but not so much, not this time. Maybe I'll revisit sometime, but that spot really wasn't as impressive as I'd hoped.

On my way back home, I stopped and took a picture of the Bear Creek post office, because I like the name of the town and the little post office was rather quaint. After I got home, I learned that Bear Creek is the home of Southern Supreme Gourmet Specialties, which specializes in fruitcake. Who knew?! :)

Chatham County lays claim to the geographic center (about 10 miles northwest of Sanford) of North Carolina. It was founded in 1771 and named for William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham.

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