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