Beach Town in a Forest

Beach Town in a Forest
Beach Town in a Forest, Pine Knoll Shores located in Carteret County on North Carolina's Crysal Coast. Photo compliments of Bill Flexman and Dave Prutzman

Saturday, July 4, 2015

What Shall We Call This Place?

The Roosevelt family members Theodore III, Grace, Cornelius, Quentin, grandchildren of President Teddy Roosevelt, acquired title to Alice Hoffman’s land in 1945 by paying her debts and liens that threatened her land. As part of those legal arrangements, Mrs. Hoffman was permitted to reside on the land for the remainder of her life. Upon Alice’s death in 1953, the Roosevelt family gained full control of 2,000 acres on Bogue Banks and an additional 600 acres on the north shore of Bogue Sound.

Rivers&Assoc survey of Roosevelt Property, 1955

They hired the firm of Stone & Webster to assist them in developing an environmentally sensitive use for the property while maintaining its natural beauty.  The concept that evolved called for selling the mainland property and focusing on Bogue Banks. The early recorded plats had the western part set aside for future development, a 1,000-foot oceanfront lot set aside for each of the family members, and a small residential development consisting of a half dozen roads on the eastern end of the property where the Roosevelts planned to sell lots to test the market.

As these first roads we’re being sketched out at a meeting in the New York offices of Stone & Webster (S&W), the question could well have arisen: What shall we call this place?
Peter Rempe was in attendance at one of those early planning meetings at S&W in 1954 and claims he suggested the name that was finally selected. [i] Neither the options considered nor the logic applied to the selection process was recorded, so we are left to ponder what could have been discussed.

A common source of place names is a surname associated with the land. Several surnames were possibilities for what became Pine Knoll Shores. The first recorded European to sail the area and mention it in his notes was Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524, but his name was lost to history. Initially, when the Roosevelts assumed ownership, the land locally was referred to as The Roosevelt Property. It would have been easy to continue using the family name as plans developed, but that did not happen. In the late 40s, the Roosevelts assisted their Aunt Alice in setting up Hoffman Beach, a development on the western part of the property, but they chose not to expand the use of her surname perhaps because a town named Hoffman, established in the 1870s, already existed in North Carolina, in Richmond County.

Other surnames they could have considered were settlers who preceded Alice Hoffman. Royall may have been a good choice since, before Alice Hoffman purchased her land, three quarters of Bogue Banks was owned by John A. Royall of Booth Bay Maine, but she also bought Bogue Banks property from the Lowenberg Brothers, S.P. Hancock, and the Crescent Land Co. During several decades of the early 1800s, the Meginnis or Maginnis family lived on the land and appeared in census records. A variation of that name, McGinnis, was used for one of the Roosevelt Property’s subdivisions. In 1909, Oscar Kissam started selling lots on Bogue Banks to his associates on Long Island. If any of these names were considered, they were finally rejected.

Reusing existing names from other places is often employed to name a place, a name reminiscent of where the new occupants came from. The Roosevelt family homes were in Oyster Bay, NY. Teddy Roosevelt’s home was called Sagamore Hill. There’s no indication either of these was considered. As a nod to Aunt Alice’s admiration for France, the Roosevelts could have given the name a French cast—Bois de Bogue (Bogue Woods).

What the locals called the location would be another source to consider. One obvious name would be Bogue Banks, a name selected by the U.S. Government in 1918 when an official US Post Office was established at Alice Hoffman’s house. Bogue Banks, of course, was already the name of the entire island. Another well established and documented local name was Hoop Pole Woods. It appears in news articles and maps from 1800 forward.

US Army map 1946, updated 1956, Sheet 5663 III

There were variations of the name: Hoop Pole Creek, Landing, and Point.  Another local name appears on the above map near the dashed line roads—Willis Landing.

Maps from the 1700s referred to the area as Sanford Island or Borg Island and Borden Banks. A newspaper article from 1890 mentions parts of Bogue Banks as Piney Woods. An Army map from early 1940 refers to Pine Wood Shores. Could this have morphed into Pine Knoll Shores?

But, there were other choices as well. Oscar Kissam called his development on Bogue Banks Aibonito, named for a battle in Peurto Rico during the Spanish-American War. John Royall called his property Isle of Pines, a name that was constantly in the news during the early 1900s due to a dispute between the United States and Cuba over the ownership of a Caribbean Island by that name. Alice Hoffman called her home Shore House, and, at times, she called her dairy operations Pine Grove Farm.

Another local name was Salter Path. A name recognized through the county as early as 1890 as a community of families on the Banks who depended on the sea for their livelihood. This community was within the boundaries of the Roosevelt property. The Roosevelts could have elected to expand the use of that name for their entire development, but Salter Path already had a character that set it apart.

Local landmarks and feature also offer the building blocks of a name. A 1902 navigation chart names the slough behind Town Hall as Alligator Gut and White Ash Swamp. Names that appear on early maps and charts include: Frost Point, Yaupon Point, Sage Path, Glover’s Point, Oglesby Path, Piney Point, and Rock Point.

Another approach to naming is based on physical attributes of the location. Notable items associated with this area are: maritime forests, wind-swept Live Oak trees, tall pines, dunes, ridges, hummocks, knolls, wetlands, sandy beaches, herons, egrets, ibis, gulls, sea turtles, dolphins. Think of the possibilities.

In the end, the Roosevelts chose not to go with a person name or location identifier or a formerly used name. Instead, they combined several generic attributes.
The name they chose captures the defining uniqueness of the area. There certainly are pines as well as other trees; the dunes and ridgelines could appear as knolls, and both ocean and sound shores border the town. Some may feel the name lacks grandeur and historic substance, but it embodies the strong sense of stewardship – the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt and their Aunt Alice.

Even after the name was selected, confusion existed before it was established, as evidenced below.

Tourist map from mid 1950s showing Pinewood Knoll

Hill's Directory, 1958, Carteret County, NC
In deciding on a name that included the word Pine the developers took on the challenge of formulating a name that includes the most frequently used word in the lexicon of town names in North Carolina. Pine is part of 94 place names in the Tar Heel State. In a way, this seems fitting being that the tar referred to, along with pitch and turpentine, is created from the vast pine forests and represented some of the most important exports early in the state's history. The name list starts with Pine Crest and ends with Piney Woods, and includes many three-word names – Pine Dale Manor, Pine Forest Acres, Pine Hurst Park, Pine Log Village, Pine Mountain Lakes, Pine Shore Lakes, Piney Forest Crossroads, and Pine Grove Landing.

Given the many name options mentioned in this piece, if you were at the meeting in 1954 in the offices of Stone & Webster, what would you have suggested?

Author: Walt Zaenker, revised 9/28/2016
To contact author or the History Committee

[i] Letter to the editor The Shoreline July 1973, Stone & Webster meeting- 1954 Peter Rempe