When part of Pittsylvania's territory was ceded to form the new county of Henry in 1777, a dispute arose over a new location for Pittsylvania's court-house. The state legislature took matters in hand and ordered the town to be laid out in twelve lots centered around Main Street and to be named Competition. Tiring of the joke, in 1852 the citizens named their town, as was the county, for William Pitt, the Elder, who became the Earl of Chatham in 1766. The clerk of the House of Delegates is reputed to have written on a blotter: “Immortal Pitt! How great thy fame, When Competition yields to Chatham's name.” Chatham is located on an early regional north-south route (now U.S. 29 Business). Gathered around its courthouse (PI1), the town has a modest Main Street commercial area about two blocks long that looks like a stage set of small-town America.
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