When the General Assembly first created Chatham out of Orange in 1770, the county was larger and more square. When a border dispute between Chatham and Alamance was settled in the nineteenth century, a little bit of Chatham went to Alamance, but the county was still pretty square. All that changed in 1907 when the General Assembly voted to create Lee County from Chatham and Moore (technically, they voted to give the people in the area of the proposed county a vote on the matter). Chatham lost the part that lay below the Deep River, including the coal-mining area once known as Egypt, later Cumnock. The county's border along the south now runs with the course of the Deep River, making it much more of a challenge to draw freehand. Chatham's representative in the state House at that time was Henry Mauger London, son of RECORD editor Henry A. London. Here's how the RECORD reported on it ...
1906 OCT 11, "Local Records":
Do the people of Chatham wish any more of their county cut off for another county like the Fusionists did in 1895? A mighty effort will be made in the next Legislature to take part of Chatham for the proposed new county of Lee. It is important then that our county should have a solid representation in the Senate and House for a Republican senator or representative would have no influence in preventing it.
1907 JAN 24, "Local Records":
The bill to create the new county of Lee was introduced into the Senate last week by Senator Seawell, and its promoters are making desperate efforts to pass the bill. They have raised a large sum of money to pay lawyers to lobby for it, among them being Mr. Walter D. Siler, of this county, Hon. Locke Craig, of Asheville, Messrs. Jas. H. Pou and J.N. Holding of Raleigh. If the people of Chatham are opposed to losing any of their county they ought to be stirring in opposition to this new county. Large delegations of the best citizens of the proposed county are in Raleigh nearly every day working actively for their county.
1907 JAN 31, "Local Records":
On next Wednesday afternoon the Senate committee will consider, and hear discussion on, the bill to create Lee county out of parts of Chatham and Moore. The advocates of the new county are making every effort to get it, and citizens of Moore are actively opposing it. But few citizens of Chatham are making any effort about it, though opposed to losing any part of our county. They had better be stirring themselves and help Senator Rives to defeat the bill.
1907 FEB 14, "Lee County":
The advocates of the proposed new county, to be called Lee, are making desperate efforts to get it.
The proposed lines are to run so as to take from Chatham all south of Deep river and west of Cape Fear river. It is estimated that this slice from Chatham contains nearly fifty thousand acres with property assessed for taxation at over half a million dollars and with a popullation of nearly 2,000.
On Wednesday afternoon of last week the Senate committee heard the bill discussed by its advocates and opponents. A large crowd from the proposed county was present, every one wearing a white ribbon on which were printed the words Lee County. The bill was discussed for three hours in the Hall of the House of Representatives, which was crowded with a deeply interested audience. Next day the committee by a vote of seven to two voted in favor of the bill, which then passed the Senate by a large majority.
But on last Tuesday "Linden saw another sight" and the advocates of the proposed county met a disastrous defeat in the House committee, which after a long discussion voted against the bill by a vote of twelve to seven. This discussion before the House committee was even more animated and interesting than that before the Senate committee. A large crowd from the proposed county attended this committee meeting and also quite a number from Chatham and Moore counties in opposition. Those from Chatham were W.L. London, R.H. Hayes, H.A. London, James B. Atwater, F.C. Poe, Joe W. Mann, A.H. London, E.J. Riggsbee, H.T. Chapin, Jacob Thompson, Fred. W. Bynum, J.L. Griffin, W.E. Brooks, J.R. Milliken, Jesse Milliken, R.S. Thompson, C.W. Hanks, Spence Taylor and W.H. Ward.
Of course the delegations from Chatham and Moore rejoiced greatly at their victory before the House committee, which was the more notable because of the almost unanimous vote for the new county in the Senate. Everybody admitted that this great victory in the House committee was due chiefly to the influence and efforts of Chatham's young Representative, who received many congratulations upon thus "snatching victory from the jaws of defeat."
The bill will considered in the House today (Thursday) and it is confidently predicted that the House will by a large majority sustain the action of its committee and defeat the bill. It is hoped that a large delegation of our countymen will go to Raleigh today (or whenever the bill is considered in the House) and help its defeat by such a majority that his vexatious question will not disturb our people again.
1907 FEB 21, "Lee County Defeated":
By the close vote of 48 to 49 the bill creating Lee county failed to pass its second reading in the House of Representatives on last Friday.
1907 FEB 28, "Local Records":
Carthage News: The people of Moore county hold the Hon. H.M. London of Pittsboro in the highest esteem for his noble work in leading the fight against the division of our county. In a great measure the defeat of the bill was brought about by his untiring zeal and persistent work in our behalf. Any time he needs our support, it is his without the asking.
1907 FEB 28, "Local Records":
The fate of Lee county will be decided today, as the bill for its creation is made the special order for 12 o'clock today. The vote will be close and both sides are claiming a victory. Some of the members who voted against the proposed county before will now vote for it, and some who voted for it will today against it. So, the result is in doubt.
1907 MAR 7, "Chatham's Representative Complimented":
From the News and Observer, 2nd. During the entire session of the Legislature no member has waged a more magnificent fight against greater odds than the capable and resourceful young member from Chatham. His earnest and powerful opposition to the creation of the Lee county has won him the gratitude of the people of Chatham and the admiration of the people of Lee county.
1907 MAR 7, "Lee County Wins":
After a long and desparate contest the Lee county bill has at last passed and our neighbors in Sanford have come out victorious in their efforts to have a new county.
The bill, as heretofore stated, was defeated in the House three weeks ago by one majority. Another bill was introduced and this was passed by the House on last Thursday by a vote of 60 to 44, and no fight over it was made in the Senate. The difference between the first and second bills was very slight. The last bill leaves the question to a vote of the people of the proposed county, which election will of course be a farce and useless, because there is no doubt a majority of the voters in the new county are in favor of it. An amendment to the bill was offered by Representative London to allow Moore as well as Lee county to vote on the question, because the people of Moore are greatly interested, as much so as the people of the proposed county -- in the creation of the county. This amendment was voted down by a large majority.
The election will be held on the first day of July on the question of having the new county, and of course a large majority will be given for it. The first officers of Lee county will be appointed by the governor and will begin their terms on the first Monday in April of next year. The people of the new county will pay their taxes this year in Chatham and Moore. The line between Chatham and Lee will be the middle of Cape Fear and Deep rivers, so that both counties will have to keep up the bridges on Deep river. The new county will have to assume its proportionate part of indebtedness of Chatham and Moore.
The court-house is to be built about half way between the depots in Jonesboro and Sanford, which will be rather a long walk from either town, but the two towns may grow so much that a street railway may be built before long running by the court-house and connecting Jonesboro and Sanford.
We will greatly regret to lose so goodly a part of our county, but hope that our countymen living in the strip taken from Chatham will continue to prosper and always remember kindly their old county.
1907 APR 4, "TO ORGANIZE NEW COUNTY":
Raleigh, Special. -- The first step in carrying out the legislative enactmetn [sic] for forming the new county of Lee out of parts of Moore and Chatham, was taken here Monday." [...] "The new county is to take on official life on the first day of April, 1908.
1907 JUL 11, "Lee County":
In accordance with the act of the last Legislature establishing Lee county an election was held in the proposed county on Tuesday of last week, at which 875 votes were cast for the county and only 40 against it. The Governor will appoint the county officers, who term will begin next April and continue until the election in November, 1908.
While of course we regret to lose any part of Chatham, yet we extend our best wishes for the prosperity of the new county and hope that the most sanguine expectations of its promoters may be fully realized.
1908 FEB 12, "Local Records":
Lee county will be organized and enter on its career next Monday. On that day her new officers will be sworn in and enter upon the discharge of their duties.