It All Began with One Man
The Fuquay-Varina area had long been home to Native Americans before European settlers began making homesteads in the late 17th century, but the growth and success of the community of today can be traced largely to Stephen Fuquay.
Fuquay — who was the grandson of one of the first European settlers in the area — discovered a spring on his plantation, and became convinced that the mineral water had valuable healing properties. Word of mouth spread the spring’s medicinal reputation, and it became the catalyst for much of the area’s growth. Summer tourists began coming to the area, and hotels and other businesses grew to accommodate the area’s new- found popularity.
J.D. Ballentine — the schoolmaster at a two-room schoolhouse that overlooked the springs — added the twist to the community’s history that led to the hyphenated name. When the Civil War broke out, Ballentine enlisted in the Confederate Army and began to receive letters from a young woman who called herself “Varina” (letters from women were a common effort to maintain the morale of southern troops).
When Ballentine met his Varina (one Virginia Avery), the two fell in love, married and settled in the town of Sippihaw. Ballentine became the postmaster at a post office just south of the mineral springs — a spot he called Varina. The Ballentines also opened a general store, and a community developed. The attraction of the springs and the establishment of the Norfolk Southern Railroad and the Durham and Southern Railroad brought customers to the area on a daily basis.
Sippihaw was renamed Fuquay Springs in 1902, and incorporated in 1909, encompassing in its town limits the Varina business section and the Varina railroad junction. The dividing line between Fuquay Springs and Varina was virtually indistinguishable, but both continued to develop as separate communities.
A growing tobacco industry continued to fuel the development of Fuquay Springs and Varina, but the towns maintained separate identities and post offices until 1963 when they joined to become Fuquay-Varina.