Why do they call it that? Chinsegut Hill: A Tampa Bay hill's Eskimo name

6:00 AM, Jun 13, 2013   |    comments
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In some parts of the Tampa Bay area, you'll come across plenty of hills. But you can be pretty sure you won't run into any Eskimos.

So what's an Eskimo name doing on a hill in Hernando County?

Why do they call it Chinsegut Hill?

Each morning, Raymond Robins would climb to the top of an ancient oak tree and watch the sunrise.

Then he would head back to his wife Margaret in the grand and glorious Chinsegut Hill Manor House.

"There aren't very many of these original old plantation homes left," said Tammy Heon, Hernando County's tourism director, as she stood in the soft sunlight on the home's second-story wraparound balcony.

"So the effort to save this property has been tremendous and the passion for it in our community is tremendous. It's a very special place."

Heon says the home is not just full of details and character -- it's been full of famous people, too.

Here, the Robins family hosted big names like Thomas Edison, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and J.C. Penney.

They would come to take in the fluttering finches, the crisp air, and the extraordinary view! From the hill, green trees and comfortable homes below roll off into the distance.

This spot near Brooksville is one of Hernando County's highest points.

"It's absolutely breathtakingly beautiful up here. It's quiet. It's peaceful," Heon said.

That's why the family that built this house more than 150 years ago renamed the place from Tiger Tail Hill to Mount Airy. In the late 1800's, a family named Snow moved in -- so this became Snow Hill.

Then, enter Margaret and Col. Raymond Robins. Talk about a power couple.

She was a children's advocate, women's rights activist, and labor movement pioneer.

He was a lawyer, preacher, presidential adviser, ambassador, possible spy, and gold miner.

Col. Robins came back from mining gold in Alaska and bought this property in Hernando County. And with him from Alaska, he brought a new name for the place. It's a word in the Eskimo or Inuit language.


"According to Col. Robins, Chinsegut is an Inuit word that means 'spirit of lost things,'" Heon explained.

"However, in the Inuit language, there is no 'ch' sound. So we're not quite sure where Chinsegut actually came from. But we love the meaning and we love the story."

Mysterious origins and all, that name has lasted. And so has this rare connection to Tampa Bay's past.

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

Over the years, the hill has had several owners, including the University of South Florida.

Just a few days ago, the Hernando County government was given permission to take it over.

With help from a key nonprofit group, the Friends of Chinsegut Hill, the county now plans to restore that historic home and open it up to the public.

We feature new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Thursday on 10 News at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Check out previous editions of the Emmy Award-winning series at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.

Follow 10 News reporter Grayson Kamm on Twitter at @graysonkamm as he travels Tampa Bay telling your stories.













Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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