Information about Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Chapel Hill is a town in Orange County, North Carolina (with some eastern portions in Durham County), and the home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNC Health Care. The population was 57,233 at the 2010 census; Chapel Hill is the 16th largest municipality in North Carolina.
Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh make up the three corners of the Research Triangle, so named in 1959 with the creation of Research Triangle Park, a research park between Durham and Raleigh. Chapel Hill is one of the central cities of the Durham-Chapel Hill MSA, which in turn is part of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area with a population of 1,998,808 .
Home place of early settler William Barbee of Middlesex County, Virginia, whose 1753 grant of 585 acres from the Earl of Granville was the first of two land grants in what is now the Chapel Hill-Durham area. Though William Barbee died shortly after establishing himself and his family in North Carolina, one of his eight children, Christopher Barbee, became an important contributor to his father’s adopted community and to the fledgling University of North Carolina.
There is an area on UNC Chapel Hill named Barbee Mountain; it is closed to the public but is a very old graveyard.The site and cemetery were surveyed by archaeologists from the University of North Carolina in late 1995 and early 1996, and a report was issued that extensively documents the cemetery. Milton D. Forsyth Jr. of the Durham-Orange Genealogical Society visited the cemetery as a guest of the archaeologists in March 1996 and recorded the inscriptions on the stones, which are also given in the report (not readily available) along with photographs of the stones and cemetery.
Only the stones of William and Gaskey Barbee have inscriptions, but there is a clearly a group of some 20 burials indicated by fieldstones and separated from a second group of at least 100. The first group is clearly family burials, and it is reasonable that William's father, Christopher (Kit) Barbee and his wife, are buried here, as this was known as 'Barbee's Mountain' and was their home. The second group of graves are probably slave burials. The State intends to preserve the cemetery. Christopher Barbee was the major donor of land for the university; William was both steward and superintendent of grounds for the university.
Chapel Hill, or at least the town center, indeed sits atop a hill which was originally occupied by a small Anglican "chapel of ease", built in 1752, known as New Hope Chapel. The Carolina Inn now occupies the site of the original chapel. In 1819, the town was founded to serve the University of North Carolina and grew up around it. The town was chartered in 1851, and its main street, Franklin Street, was named in memory of Benjamin Franklin.
In 1968, only a year after its schools became fully integrated, Chapel Hill became the first predominantly white municipality in the South to elect an African American mayor, Howard Lee. Lee served from 1969 until 1975 and, among other things, helped establish Chapel Hill Transit, the town's bus system. Some 30 years later, in 2002, legislation was passed to make the local buses free of fares to all riders, leading to a large increase in ridership; the buses are financed through Chapel Hill and Carrboro city taxes, Federal grants, and UNC student fees. Several hybrid and articulated buses have been added recently. All buses carry GPS transmitters to report their location in real time to a tracking Web site. Buses can transport bicycles and have wheelchair lifts.
In 1993, the town celebrated its Bicentennial, which resulted in the establishment of the Chapel Hill Museum. This cultural community resource "exhibiting the character and characters of Chapel Hill, North Carolina" includes among its permanent exhibits Alexander Julian, History of the Chapel Hill Fire Department, Chapel Hill's 1914 Fire Truck, The James Taylor Story, Farmer/James Pottery, and The Paul Green Legacy.