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  • kevinthomasfitzpatrick01

Do you know that we all might be living in "Pinalia" or "Sunalia,"North Carolina?

James Walker Tufts was a retired and wealthy business entrepreneur when he

bought approximately 6,000 acres of "Pine Barren" wasteland in NorthCarolina in

June 1895. Tufts planned to create a new village out of nothing and he needed a

name for his village.

Tufts suffered ill health throughout his life and he often took vacations to

supposedly healthy places to regain vitality. He had consumption (which we know

today as tuberculosis) and in North Carolina's Sandhills, he wanted his new village

to be a place where people of "modest means" could recover from consumption.

Tufts hires Frederick Law Olmsted to develop a plan for the village, which Tufts

sometimes then referred to simply as the “town site." Tufts hired the very best as

Olmsted was a well-known landscape designer. Both New York City's Central Park

and North Carolina's Biltmore Estate are Olmsted designs. Tufts wasted no time in

the summer of 1895 building the village. As Tufts' new village grew, workers

began calling it "Tuftstown" or "Tufftown" but these were informal names. Tufts

had not yet officially named his new village. The village's building progressed so

fast thaton December 31, 1895, the Holly Inn opened. Twenty guests were

registered at the Holly Inn that New Year's Eve.

On July 17, 1895, Tufts wrote a letter from the Ozone Hotel in Southern Pines to

his wife Mary at their home in Massachusetts. He began his letter to Mary with, “I

got your welcome letter of the 14th tonight upon my return from Pinalia.” Later in

the letter he wrote, “I have ordered telephone put up between Sunalia and

Aberdeen." Tufts was perhaps trying out these names on his wife to get her

opinion. During July and August of 1895, he would use "Pinalia" or "Sunalia" to

refer to his village, with perhaps "Pinealia" being his chosen name and spelling.

Tufts was not satisfied with any of these names.

Tufts' habit was to spend summers at his homeon the island of Martha's

Vineyard. Summer 1895 a Martha's Vineyard real estate business held a contest in

a newspaper to find a name for a new development. Readers submitted names to

the contest and the winner would be awarded a prize. James Walker Tuftsclosely

followed this naming contest. It was so similar to his North Carolina new village

name search. There was a certain name not chosen as the winner, but Tufts liked

the name. Can you guess that name?

Tufts liked the unchosen contest name of "Pinehurst." The individual who

submitted the name was given a private award by Tufts. The new village in the

pine barren wasteland of North Carolina's Sandhills now had a formal name:


The "Pine" name part seems obvious to us now with all the stately pine trees that

tower above. However, in 1895 little was left of the original pine forest here.

Anyone then familiar with the area and the devastation caused by the turpentine

and logging industries in the North Carolina Sandhills may have wondered what

the"pine" name part was all about. Perhaps Tufts had a vision of the pine trees

returning to their tall glory in the future? The "hurst" name part is derived from

the Middle English word "hirst" and is usually defined as a wood, grove; hillock, or

too from the Old English word "hyrst" which is defined as a hillock, wood, or

wooded eminence. That name part fits well.

The Olmsted firm sent a letter to Tufts on September 9, 1895. In this letter, the

Olmsted firm wrote, "We enclose tracing desired ... print of our preliminary plan

... Mr. Manning is about starting on a business trip ... he will visit Pinehurst,

probably in about a week." This marks the first usage of the name Pinehurst in

correspondence between Olmsted and Tufts. The Village of Pinehurst became an

incorporated municipality in 1980.

I think we can all agree that James Walker Tufts chose the best name for his


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