Sandhills NC History
Sandhills NC history
and archaeological findings indicate that
Indians of the Siouan family inhabited the area that is now Moore County from as
early as the beginning of the sixth century, until about 400 years ago. They
hunted and camped throughout the area and, in places, settled in villages. A
well-used Indian trail, which crosses the County, is thought to have first been
beaten out by buffaloes on their annual migrations from the piedmont to the
coastal marshes. This trail, which later came to be known as the Yadkin Road,
played an important role in the early settlement of Moore County and Sandhills
earliest European settlers came to the region about 1739. During the ensuing
years, additional settlers, largely English, Ulster Scots, and Germans moved
into the area, traveling down the "Great Wagon Road" from Pennsylvania or up the
Cape Fear River Valley from Wilmington. Most settled on the fertile lands of the
"clay country" along the Deep River (around Seagrove and Robbins) in northern Moore County. By the mid-1750's,
the area was sparsely, but evenly settled.
The next twenty years of Sandhills NC history saw a
large influx of settlers,
particularly Highland Scots, who immigrated to the
colonies to escape the harsh economic and political conditions, which existed in
Scotland at the time. These Highlanders settled in the Sandhills of the
southeast, an area bypassed by earlier settlers due to the poorness of the sandy soil.
The industrious Scots, making the best of what they had, soon established the
manufacture of naval stores as a major industry of the vast forests of longleaf
The highland Scots and Scots-Irish made their way to our region during the
1730's and 1740's and shaped Sandhills NC history early on. The Scots came up
the Cape Fear River, from the coast, and down from Philadelphia, PA. Initially
the Scots, after defeat by the British, settled in the Cape Fear region along
the coast around 1732 and then migrated up the Cape Fear River to the Sandhills
region. The were drawn by the readily available large tracts of land and
opportunity for prosperity. One only need look at some of the most common names
around the Sandhills, like the McDonalds and the Blues, and the amount of
Presbyterian churches to find obvious links to our early Sandhills NC history.
The Upper Cape Fear and Sandhills regions of the Carolinas were home to the
largest settlement of Highland Scots in North America until well into the 19th
century, and NC still has the largest Scotch-Irish population of any other
country besides Canada.
The Highlanders settled in the Sandhills area near the upper Cape Fear River
of the Coastal Plain, which ran inland to about 120 miles from the ocean. Since
the vast majority of Highlanders that settled in this area had come from an
agricultural society, and because the land was plentiful, most became farmers.
The Scots seemed to be the only ones willing to farm this dry and sandy area
known as “The Pine Barrens”. It was often heard among travelers that nothing
would grow in this god forsaken area. The Scots would soon find that not only was
land plentiful, but bodies of water were plentiful as well. There are some 200
bodies of water in Moore County present day.
The main trading town in the Sandhills area at this time was Cross Creek. It
was established in 1746 (Ashe, 1908) about 90 miles up the Cape Fear River,
close to the merge of the Cape Fear River and the Cross Creek. In 1762,
Campbellton was established near Cross Creek. In 1778, the towns were combined.
After the Revolution, in 1783, the name Cross Creek was changed to Fayetteville,
after the French general, Lafayette who assisted the Americans in defeating the
The Scots brought with them their knowledge of tar and pitch refining, and with
an abundance of pine trees in the area, the tar, pitch and turpentine industry
was born. The trees were cut in v-shaped downward angles that allowed pinesap to
flow into a flat area cut into the tree. The section was referred to as “the
box.” Experienced workers could cut the box in 10 minutes, using an ax
especially created for the job. Once the railroad came in, they would later
export not only the pitch, tar and turpentine, but also the pine trees
Moore County was carved out of Cumberland County on July 4, 1784, named after
Alfred Moore of Brunswick, a Revolutionary War hero then serving as attorney
of North Carolina. Carthage
became the county seat, and the town was laid out in 1803.
Carthage history went
on to include not only the courthouse, but the Tyson and Jones buggy factory.
People from all over the country came to Carthage to buy the “cadillac” of horse
drawn buggys and carts.
Once the railroad came in during the early 1800’s, the tar, turpentine and
timber industries really flourished and with them, such wealthy railroad centers
as Aberdeen , originally
named Blue's Crossing.
Malcolm Blue Farm in Aberdeen, is one of the few remaining examples of the early
19th century Scottish homesteads. Right around the corner Old Bethesda Church
was built in 1792.
Some of the earliest evidence of homesteads and life in the Sandhills are
still evident today. Charles C. Shaw, a first-generation Scottish settler,
acquired 2,500 acres and named it Shaw’s Ridge around 1820. Shaw’s Ridge would
later be known as “Patrick’s Folly”, “Vineland” and of course
He built The Shaw House, which still stands at the crossroads of the
Revolutionary Pee Dee Road (Broad St and Old US 1 now) and Morganton Road, at
the southern tip of downtown Southern Pines.
The Pee Dee Road was an ancient Indian Trail and ran between Cheraw, South
Carolina, and its northeastern settlements, while Morganton Road ran from the
market town of Fayetteville, North Carolina, on the Cape Fear River. The date of
1842 on the chimney is thought to have been the year that the front porch and
the two attached "travelers' rooms" were added.
Also on the Shaw house grounds is “The Garner House”. The Garner House, now on
the Shaw House grounds, was originally located on the property of Mrs. Melvin
Garner, off State Road 1456 north of Robbins, North Carolina. John Garner bought
the land in 1764 and his son Lewis was born on the property. Family members
believe Lewis built the house early in the 19th century, but it is possible that
John may have built it in the 1700s.
Brit Sander’s cabin was moved to the Shaw House grounds, from northern Moore
county, in 1952. It was originally built by Britt Sanders in the late 1700’s for
his wife and 10 children, and it’s an excellent example of early 1 room cabins
built by Sandhills settlers. There were no windows in the original cabin and the
floor was red clay. All of these homes are open to the public to tour.
As the railroad continued to grow and expand, so did Moore County. Three
brothers offered Major John Scott every other lot for a mile on either side of
the railroad tracks if he would arrange it so that the railroad would run
through their land.
Major Scott accepted the offer and in 1857 the Raleigh and Augusta railroad came
to Cameron , and for quite a while that was the end of the line. A variety of
merchants and residents came with the railroad and with that the
community of Cameron was established. Being an end destination of the
railroad for many years, it’s no wonder that the antiques industry sprang up in
Cameron over the years.
John T. Patrick, bought the first 675 acres of land in 1884 on a place known as
Shaw's Ridge for the sum of $1,265. He called it Vineland, but soon changed the
Southern Pines. Originally conceived as a health resort, Patrick saw the
climate as the area's biggest asset. Some swore that the clean, fresh air and
the smell put off by the pines had medicinal properties. Patrick was thought to
be crazy by many, and some even called the area “Patrick’s Folly”. Patrick came
from New England and had a vision for a health resort, and spread the word
quickly to as many doctors as he could in the New England states. He offered
many of them land and parcels in Vineland, in turn for free promotion of his new
community and to draw prominent people to the area. The New England influence
can also be seen in the feel of the town and the way the streets were laid out,
with names for each New England state. After he had Southern Pines up and
running, Patrick went on to establish
Pinebluff , in the southern area of the county. You’ll also notice the New
England influence here as well, with street names such as Philadelphia and New
England Avenue. Check out Southern Pines
History or Pinebluff
History for more on both of these charming towns.
Boston philanthropist James Walker Tufts, who made his fortune in soda fountain
equipment, founded the
Village of Pinehurst as a winter resort in 1895. Tufts hired Frederick Law
Olmsted, noted landscape architect (of such places as the U.S. Capitol Building,
New York City’s Grand Central Park, and the Biltmore Estate near Asheville,
N.C.), to design the Village’s New England-style layout. Olmsted’s
New England village design included the planting of over 247,000 trees and
shrubs; over 50,000 of which came from foreign countries. It took years of
planning, planting and building until the historic Olde Towne Village of
Pinehurst was finally born. For more on Pinehurst history, check
out it's history page here.
Although at first
Pinehurst offered the popular recreations of the day such as riding,
hunting, cycling and lawn bowling, there soon came reports that guests were
disturbing the cows by hitting little white balls around the pasture! It didn't
take long for Mr Tufts to realize how popular this was becoming, and to keep
from disturbing the livestock, he decided to build a venue for this fascinating
past time at his new resort.
So, Tufts brought in a young Scotsman named Donald Ross to design golf courses, and
his No. 2 (originally built in 1902 with only man and mule power and then
redesigned by Ross) is still consistently
listed among the world’s finest golf courses. Making the Village his
headquarters for 48 years, Ross went on to produce some 400 of the top golf
layouts worldwide. His designs are legendary and sought out by the top golf
enthusiasts throughout the world. Donald Ross, the father of golf, was a huge
part of our heritage and Pinehurst and Sandhills NC history, as he influenced
many golf course designers such as Peter Tufts and Ellis Maples.
As the railroad continued to grow across the county, so did other communities like
and Jackson Springs.
History Pinehurst history really
began on February 11, 1835 when Leonard and Hepzebah Fosdick Tufts had a son,
and named him James Walker Tufts.
History Southern Pines history began when John T
Patrick, North Carolina’s first Commissioner of Immigration, bought 675 acres in
1884 on Shaw’s Ridge.
Aberdeen history starts in the mid 1700’s when Scottish
Highlanders settled in a community they dubbed Bethesda.
Seven Lakes History
Seven Lakes history began as a vision by Fred Lawrence in the early 1970's, when
Lawrence and his partners purchased 1100 acres on what is now Seven Lakes Drive.
Carthage history begins as Moore County was created, with
the division of Cumberland County, and was officially recognized by the North
Carolina Legislature on July 4th in 1784.
Pinebluff history began when the town was established as
part of the late-19th century effort to populate the Sandhills Region of the
state and thereby bring in some much needed economic stimulus.
Does your family have ties
to early Sandhills NC history? Let us know about them in our Family History
section of Sandhills Voices.
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