The History of Summit

By J.R. Fennell
Posted 3/29/23

Like its neighbor Gilbert, Summit was developed after the Columbia, Charlotte and Augusta railroad was completed in 1869. 

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The History of Summit


Like its neighbor Gilbert, Summit was developed after the Columbia, Charlotte and Augusta railroad was completed in 1869. 

A railroad stop was completed two miles west of Gilbert Hollow/Lewiedale and was named Summit Point. Its name derives from the fact that it was supposedly the highest point on the railroad between Columbia and Augusta. 

Captain D.J. Griffith and Dr. Frederick S. Lewie laid out the streets of Summit Point in 1873. That same year, Captain Griffith and Dr. Lewie helped organize St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was built on Dr. Lewie’s land. The congregation numbered 27 at that point. 

The town grew slowly with the main businesses being a general store and tavern run by Capt. Griffith and a tannery run by James Shealy that sold shoes and clothing. Shealy’s wife Elizabeth was the post mistress as well. Although the Lexington Dispatch newspaper lamented the lack of growth in the community, the town was incorporated as Summit on Dec. 15, 1892. The town limits stretched out three-quarters of a mile in a square from the intersection of Summit Avenue (what is now Lewie Street) and the railroad. 

Besides the mercantile stores, the main businesses in Summit all used natural materials that were readily found in the area. The Hartley Brothers owned a turpentine business that took advantage of the large amount of pine trees. They also ran a commissary in town for their employees. Similarly, the Rawl family operated a sawmill on the north side of the railroad. The Shealy family opened a sand mining operation in the early twentieth century. According to a Shealy family descendant, two men would use wheelbarrows and shovels to load the sand into a train car. It would take more than eight hours to load the car this way. 

Summit had a newspaper for a brief period of time, the Summit News, which was run at first by Frank Shealy and Callie Morgan and then by Bill Hare and John Shealy. A few other larger businesses started in the Summit area in the second quarter of the 20th century, including the Carolina Cabinet Company started by Ervin A. Hallman. The community became electrified in 1928 when the Brodie Light and Power Company connected Gilbert and Summit. 

The town continued to grow slowly throughout the rest of the 20th century, growing from 73 people in the town limits in 1940 to 423 in 2020. 

J.R. Fennell has served as director of the Lexington County Museum since 2007. He holds a master’s degree in public history and a certificate of museum management from the University of South Carolina.

lexington county history, jr fennell, town of summit


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