Breakup of Old Orange County
The source of this information is Orange County - 1752-1952
Hugh Lefler and Paul Wager, published in 1953.
Orange county originally included the present day Orange, Chatham,
Caswell, Person and Alamance. There were also portions of Durham, Wake,
Guilford, Rockingham, Randolph, and Lee.
Wake was formed in 1770 from portions of Orange, Johnston and Cumberland
to have a new county that would make it easier for the inhabitants to attend
the courts, general musters and other public meetings.
Guilford was formed in 1770 from Orange and Rowan "in order to separate
the 'Insurgents' during the government trouble with the regulators." The
original portion of Orange that went to Guilford included what in 1785
became the eastern portion of Rockingham.
Chatham was formed from southern Orange in 1771 during the Regulator
uprising to encourage its inhabitants in the public duties. The northern
boundary was 16 miles south of Hillsboro. Chatham county included
territory that in 1779 became the eastern part of Randolph.
The residents in the northern part of Orange began trying for a new
county as early as 1770 because they found attendance at the general muster
and courts "very burdensome". Finally in 1777, Caswell county was formed
with the dividing line between Caswell and Orange running 12 miles north of
Hillsboro. Eastern Caswell was organized as Person in 1792.
For more than a decade there were citizens trying to form a new county
in the western portion of what was left of Orange. At the time the
western portion was largely industrial and the eastern portion largely
agricultural. Finally in 1849 Alamance county was formed from the western
part of Orange. The dividing line ran 9 miles west of Hillsboro.
Following the Civil War there was one more change in the size of Orange
county. Durham had become a center of the tobacco industry. Hillsboro
landowners apparently had very little interest in tobacco. Durham was
formed from Orange and Wake in 1881. This left Orange a small county of
only 398 square miles, its present size.