The story of Coats begins with an ambitious 26-year-old. He was James T. Coats, who bought 700 acres of farming land here in Harnett County and set up a general store. The store attracted other farmers as well as the railroad. With growth at the dawning of the 20th century, his modest plot of land became the Town of Coats, with Mr. Coats himself its first citizen.
The Town of Coats is home to North Carolina’s first licensed aviator. Alton Stewart developed his interest in flying at Camp Bragg’s Pope Field, during World War I. About two years after the war he began flying regularly and, from 1924 to 1929, worked with Curtiss-Wright Flying Service in Raleigh. He often gave public exhibitions and became one of the best-known pilots in the state. Press accounts of the period give Stewart considerable credit for popularizing aviation in the state. The 1950-51 North Carolina Almanac called Stewart the "god-father of Tar Heel aviation."
Stewart died in a plane crash in Dunn on Christmas Day of 1929. The newspaper paid tribute to Stewart with an editorial page drawing captioned "He died in man’s conquest of the air." Stewart was "the first North Carolina pilot to be licensed by the Department of Commerce."
Family members have upheld the memory of Stewart. In 1968 they erected a tombstone in Coats bearing information about his 1926 license, certified by the "Federal Aeronautique International" and signed by Orville Wright.
We cannot be certain that the town as it exists today is the one James T. Coats dreamed of almost a century and a half ago, but we have a good feeling he would be pleased. We know we are.
Though our town remains moderately small, Coats combines modern amenities and neighborly charms. We’re near great sports, cultural and educational facilities
Many of our residents work in the internationally prominent, technology-focused Research Triangle Park. Others commute from our family-friendly community to the U.S. Army Base at Fort Bragg. That area is the site of exciting job growth fueled by the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act
Coats is far from “the middle of nowhere”—though its restful atmosphere may make you forget that fact!
If you love quality education, we have great local public and private schools plus 13 colleges and universities within an hour’s drive of Coats.
If you love entertainment, theater, the arts, and nightlife, the lively cities of Fayetteville, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham are each an easy ride away. Not to be outdone, our county boasts two live theater groups.
If you love sports, team recreation leagues in the area offer programs year round for girls and boys. Unlike bigger cities where you have to enter a lottery for a chance to play, we can usually accommodate all comers.
We’re also in the middle of Carolina Hurricanes hockey and ACC basketball country. For golfers, the courses of Chicora Country Club and Sandy Ridge Country Club in Dunn and Pine Burr Golf in Lillington are only minutes away. You can also tee off on the internationally famous golf courses in Pinehurst, NC, after just over an hour’s drive.
If you love the ocean, the surf is only two hours down the highway.
If you love the mountains and skiing, we are close enough that you can enjoy easy weekend getaways there.
And the folks at our own Chamber of Commerce sponsor events to connect our business community.