Orange County Trio

Elizabeth Shrieve Ryan

Pages: 309, paperback
Published: December 2004
Genre: Carolinas
ISBN: 1-880849-57-7

Inspired by plans for Orange County and Hillsborough, North Carolina’s celebration of their 250th anniversaries and by her own experience as a resident of Chapel Hill, Elizabeth Shreve Ryan conceived the idea for Orange County Trio, a historical narrative of the inception and growth of Orange County’s three major towns. A substantial text covering the history of the county and its towns in matters such as commerce, politics, influential people, and architecture, Orange County Trio not only stands alone as a wealth of interesting historical facts but also provides the reader with complete, easy-to-follow sightseeing guides and maps.


The “trio” of Orange County includes Hillsborough, Chapel Hill—both founded in the eighteenth century—and Carrboro, which was founded in the early 1900s. Each town has its own special history and character.


Orange County originally encompassed not only its current boundaries, but also areas that are now Durham, Chatham, Alamance, Caswell, and Person Counties as well as portions of Wake, Guilford, Randolph, Lee and Rockingham.

Hillsborough, the county seat, is richly endowed with historical markers of notable places, such as the Occaneechi Village, the eighteenth-century paper mill, and the location where the Regulators were hanged in 1771. Chapel Hill houses the University of North Carolina, the nation’s first state university—the town’s growth has been closely intertwined with the university since its beginning. Ryan devotes equal time to both the town and the university in her work. Carrboro’s birth resulted from the North Carolina Railroad’s construction of a ten-mile rail spur to the western edge of Chapel Hill. Tourists can still visit Carrboro Railroad Station nearly one hundred years after its erection.

Born in Florida, Elizabeth Shreve Ryan earned an undergraduate degree in history from Georgia State College for Women and an M.A. in history from the University of Kentucky. After teaching at Florida State University, she continued graduate study at UNC- Chapel Hill and was a research assistant in the Southern Historical Collection. After her husband retired, the Ryan’s returned to Chapel Hill in 1993 and have lived there ever since.