Bartlett Leonidas Durham
The man for whom the city of Durham is named, Bartlett Leonidas Durham (1824-1859) was born to a family who had lived in Orange County for three generations. He grew up in the country about 12 miles west of Chapel Hill and became a physician after studying under a local doctor, possibly James Webb of Hillsborough, though the source of his education is not documented.
In the mid-1840s, Durham bought 100 acres near the Hillsborough-Raleigh road, between the tavern communities of Pinhook (near present-day Ninth Street) and Prattsburg (in present-day Edgemont). Besides his medical practice, he owned a store, for a time in partnership with John Carr, father of Durham tycoon Julian S. Carr, and represented Orange County in the state legislature.
Approached by surveyors for the North Carolina Railroad in 1850, Durham granted a four-acre easement for track right-of-way and a depot. The post office was relocated from Prattsburg to the depot site, at the eventual corner of Pettigrew and Corcoran-Blackwell streets, which was officially named "Durham's Station" on April 26, 1853. The rail line to Durham's Station was completed in the spring of 1855. A village took form around the train station and post office, reaching a population of around 100 by the time of Durham's death, from pneumonia, in 1859.
Originally buried in the graveyard of his mother's family, the Snipes, on the Orange-Chatham county line, Durham's remains were disinterred in 1934 and reburied in Maplewood Cemetery. His headstone there incorrectly gives his middle name as Snipes; the engraved years of his birth and death are also incorrect.