Tuesday, December 8, 2020


James Walker Tufts



James Walker Tufts was a young entrepreneur and businessman who rose from apprentice in an apothecary to a nationwide business executive to the creator of a resort town in North Carolina. James was the son of Leonard Tufts, a blacksmith from Somerville, Massachusetts. He was a sixth-generation descendant of Peter Tufts, the common ancestor for many of the Tufts families in Massachusetts. At age 16, James’s father died, and he was apprenticed to a local apothecary. After learning the trade, he bought his own store and established himself as owner of several others. He tinkered with machines and created one of the first soda fountains in America. It was so successful that he made a fortune and joined several other manufacturers to form a nationwide business (The American Soda Fountain Company).


Tufts Generations

1) Peter Tufts (1617-1700)  Tufts ancestry link

Mary Pierce (1626-1702)


2) John Tufts (1664-1726)

Mary Putnam (1669-1758)


3) Peter Tufts (1697-1778)

Lydia Bucknam (1704-1776)


4) Peter Tufts (1728-1791)

Anne Adams (1729-1813) Her story


5) John Tufts (1754-1839)

Elizabeth Perry (1759-1844)


6) Leonard Tufts (1788-1851)

Hepzibah Fosdick (1795-1864)

                Had: Charlotte (1822-1826), Leonard (1825-1831), William F (1828-1905), James Walker.


Municipal records are available confirming James’ birth in 1835, and his father’s death in 1852.

Records are also available regarding James appointment of guardian in 1852.

The Memorial of Hepzibah Tufts of Charlestown and County aforesaid; Widow

Respectfully Represents

That James Walker Tufts, a minor and son of Leonard Tufts, late of Charlestown wishes to have a Guardian appointed over him and has signified his wife, (he being over 14 years of age) that your memorialist be appointed his Guardian.

The laws of Massachusetts were complicated and below the age of 14 children had to have an adult male as their Guardian. In this case, Hepzibah was granted the Guardianship and she had to post bond, show James’ inventory, and satisfy other legal requirements. The will of Leonard Tufts is also available online. (American ancestors.org, the website of NEHGS has these probate records.)

 Later, James is found in the census records:



In the 1860 census above, James is age 25, a druggist in Somerville, with 500 dollars real estate value and $3000 personal value. He is also a boarder in the boarding house of Mrs. Clough. James would marry her daughter Mary Clough in 1862. In the 1870 census Mrs. Clough is boarding at James’ home in Medford. It is entirely possible they are pictured on the porch here.


Soda fountains and silver plate

A side business of James’s fountain company was a silver plate business that created some lovely silver plate dinner table ware. While not as valuable as sterling silver, many of the pieces are beautiful and paired with artistic glass. A new website has been developed displaying many of his best works: https://americansilvermuseum.org/ Some of his Crystal Fountains can be found at Rick Crandall’s website: https://www.rickcrandall.net/automatic-crystal-parlor-fountains/

See below for additional information and pictures of the Soda Fountain Machines

 James W Tufts served as head of the Soda Fountain Company until 1895 then sold his interests to pursue his next project. He bought almost 6000 acres of barren pine land in North Carolina and created the resort town of Pinehurst, North Carolina.


Pinehurst, North Carolina

 Many written histories cover the progression from a health and recreation resort to a world class golf resort. One of the best and earliest was written by James’ son Leonard who succeeded him in his business ventures. (Pinehurst North Carolina, A brief description of the leading health and recreation resort of the south. It’s climate, cottages and hotels, and the opportunities it offers for golf, shooting, tennis and out-of-door life. Leonard Tufts 1906). This book is available on google books and archive.org: https://archive.org/details/pinehurstncabri00tuftgoog


James’s grandson, Richard S. Tufts penned the following in a 1976 limited-edition tribute James Walker Tufts, The Founder of Pinehurst, North Carolina:

“He was educated at the Training Field School in Charlestown. At the age of 14 James Walker Tufts concern for the plight of humans was evidence by the following composition he wrote:”

A Rich Man

There are different kinds of rich men.  Some are rich in good works while others who have better means of doing good do little or nothing for the good of others.  The true use of riches is not to minister to self indulgence not to widen the space between you and the less prosperous nor look down on those who are poor as an inferior race but to administer to their necesaries (sic) and provide employment for them.  This I think is the best use a rich man can make of his money.

James Walker Tufts believed in “Stewardship of Wealth.” He set up training schools for his employees and included many of them in his will with substantial bequests James’s own 2nd Great-Grandson (Rick Tufts) called him a “humanitarian, apothecary, and a humble, futuristic visionary”.

Many websites, magazine articles, and videos offer insight into the history of Pinehurst and it is hard to sum it up. (For those interested in reading more, I list links and resources below.) James Tufts built the resort for middle class workers to be able to vacation in the south without traveling all the way to Florida. He made things affordable and invested a lot of money doing it. When Leonard took over Pinehurst following his father’s death, he turned it into a profitable company only by selling real estate. Leonard also invested in some of the parts of the Pinehurst Corporation he thought profitable. He maintained the dairy cow herd in North Carolina, then moved it to New Hampshire to a farm and portion of his estate in Center Harbor, New Hampshire. Leonard also had an interest in a hotel at the Stage Neck in York Harbor, Maine. Leonard’s company also provided for his employees of his hotels at Pinehurst to travel north in the summer to work in his northern hotels. James W. Tufts also had a home or inn on Martha’s Vineyard. Some additional resources with detailed history are:


Tufts Archives at Given Library, Pinehurst, NC

https://giventufts.org/tufts-archives/pinehurst-history/  (Images of James Tufts and Pinehurst above are Property of the Tufts Archives. They may not be sold or reproduced.)

 The Pinehurst resort has some excellent videos on their site:


The youtube version has all the chapters combined and 56 minutes long but very well presented


  The Town of Pinehurst has an excellent 125th Anniversary page with several chapters including this one about James W Tufts:


There are numerous articles in Pine Straw Magazine Including this one about Leonard Tufts work to improve roadways for automobiles to visit Pinehurst.


and this one about the employees of the hotels and their travel from northern to southern hotels:


Another Pine Straw magazine article digs into the letters and business dealings between Leonard, his son Richard  Tufts  and  Donald Ross, who designed Pinehurst’s golf course.


Soda Fountains

Some of the large, room-filling soda fountain apparatuses were displayed at the Centennial of 1876 in Philadelphia. The Free Library of Philadelphia holds some wonderful pictures of this display.

The Soda Fountain apparatus is quite rare. They can be found at the following places I have found:

Clark’s Trading Post in Lincoln, New Hampshire.



Soda fountain at Waterville ME Historical society Reddington museum



In Iowa:



 Southern Oregon Historical society exhibit:



Tufts Archives at Given Library, Pinehurst, NC


Please forward other locations.


Additional links:

(I have listed these links in whole so that readers can search for them if they become obsolete or change. This will be expected and many may be deleted forever. Please notify me of expired links.)

North Carolina State Library page:


Federation of Historic Bottle collectors


1984 article from The News and Observer, Raleigh, NC: