by Timothy Lutts, CEO Cabot Wealth Network
2020 Update: Lutts, Tennessee is still around, although the post office was destroyed by a tornado in 2015.
There was no logical reason to visit Lutts, Tennessee.
With a population of just 530 people, it has no tourist attractions.
We didn’t know anyone there.
And, it was in the middle of nowhere, 149 miles east of Memphis (where we were) and 127 miles south of Nashville (where we were booked that night). In fact, it was almost in Alabama! The detour would add 64 miles (much of it on back roads) to our day’s drive, and necessitate a brief mid-day charge of the Tesla so we could reach Nashville.
But ever since I learned about the existence of Lutts, Tennessee a few years ago (thanks to Google Maps) I’d wanted to go there.
First, because it’s the only community named Lutts in the U.S. (there are a couple of roads named Lutts in other states).
And second because it might not be named Lutts much longer (more about that later).
So it was an easy choice to opt for the beautiful back roads in and out of Lutts over the direct and less scenic Route 40 that could have taken us directly to Nashville.
The first sign of the community was this.
Then came a small cemetery, followed by a handful of houses—well spread out, a small gravel pit, a small auto body business, a church, and the post office.
Here’s the post office.
The post office was interesting to me because it was the postal service that “created” the community of Lutts.
According to what I found online a few years ago, when the U.S. postal authorities first established a post office there in 1888, they asked the first postmaster, John D. Stricklin, to come up with a name for the location, and suggested that it be a short one. So Stricklin suggested his physician and friend, Dr. Alexander Lutts.
No, Dr. Lutts was not related to me (except in the sense that we are probably all related to each other if you go back far enough).
But I spent quite a bit of time on genealogy databases a few years back looking at Dr. Lutts’ genealogy (looking to prove or disprove that) and here’s what I found.
Alexander Lutts was born in 1828 in North Carolina, he married a Tennessee girl named Margaret Weatherford when she was about 17, and they had five children.
His great-grandfather, Johannes George Lutz, was born in Germany (near Stuttgart), and immigrated to North Carolina, where he married twice, had at least six children and was killed in the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill in 1780—part of the American Revolution.
The switch in spelling from Lutz to Lutts was part of the process of Americanization, which also yielded Leutes and Lutes among Johannes’ descendants.
My ancestors traveled a parallel path, with my great-great-great grandfather John Lutts born in Philadelphia in 1764, to a man who was almost certainly named Lutz in Germany.
Back in the present, as we were taking photos outside the Lutts post office, the door opened and out popped the postmistress, Pam Warrington, as she was closing for the day!
It was about ten past noon, and she explained that the post office hours had recently been cut to four hours a day, four days a week (thus my speculation that if the trend continues, the community may cease to exist—at least as an official entity.)
She also revealed that the pronunciation there is Loots, as in lutes, and that there are no remaining members of the family left. The last to live there, Elmer Lutts, had two daughters, but they both married, took their husbands’ names, and moved to the east and west parts of the state.
The whole time we were talking, I don’t believe one car passed by.
So we said our good-byes to Pam.
We took a picture by the church next door (this was just after Mother’s Day.)
And we drove out of Lutts, stopping to take one more picture at the final official sign.
If you ever find yourself there, let me know!