When traveling along Hwy. 249 from Tomball to Magnolia, drivers may often pass through Pinehurst without realizing the history behind the area's many ranches and open land dating back more than a century.
Chris Hardee, a fourth-generation resident of the Pinehurst area, said he grew up hearing stories about Pinehurst's history from his parents and grandparents.
"There were a lot of German families in Tomball and when they got here, they settled along Spring Creek," Hardee said. "Decker Prairie was the big town. Later the railroads [went through] Tomball, Magnolia and Pinehurst and got those towns going."
The Pinehurst area has not been incorporated as a city and is officially known as a Census Designated Place. Pinehurst homes are zoned to schools in either Tomball ISD or Magnolia ISD, and the area's closest claim to local government is its post office.
When Pinehurst was first settled in the late 1800s, there were six or seven families in the area, Hardee said. As of the 2010 U.S. Census tallies, there are now an estimated 4,600 people living in the area. Hardee's grandfather,
William Christoph Brautigam, was one of the first generation of residents to call Pinehurst home.
"My grandfather started his ranch in Pinehurst, and he started a [general] store in 1926," Hardee said. "They had the only telephone [in Pinehurst], and they also claim to have been [similar to] the first 7-Eleven [store concept in the area]. Even though [residents] went to sleep, when emergencies came, they would go to the store at night and wake them up to use the phone."
The store carried products ranging from shoes to cattle feed to ice cream, which at the time cost only five cents for two scoops, Hardee said.
Aside from the general store, much of the area consisted of open ranches where cattle would often wander out into the streets, blocking what little traffic there was at the time, Hardee said. The area remained that way for much of the 20th century.
"The railroad was the only industry around Pinehurst. Everything else was farming, dairy or oil fields." —Donald Free, a 79-year-old Pinehurst resident
Donald Free, a 79-year-old Pinehurst resident and a family friend of the Brautigams, recalled growing up in the area without most of today's modern luxuries.
"We didn't have electricity until after 1949, and we didn't have running water until 1951," Free said. "The train delivered just about everything down at the [railroad] switch. That's how we got the mail, feed and supplies for the fields. The railroad was the only industry around Pinehurst. Everything else was farming, dairy or oil fields."
Neighborhoods and small shopping centers, such as Pinehurst Trade Center Antiques & Collectibles, now line the main roadways, Hardee said. However, one prominent structure still remains and serves as a reminder of Pinehurst's humble beginnings.
Brautigam's store is now better known as the Pinehurst Country Store, an ExxonMobil station at the intersection of Spur 149 and Hwy. 249. The original store was destroyed in a fire in the 1980s but was quickly rebuilt, Hardee said.
The sign over the store features an eagle and a banner with the dates for each time the store was opened under new ownership in 1926, 1985, 1986 and 1999.
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.