My Georgia History

Summerville, Georgia

We call it the Hill, in Augusta.  It is the last of the Appalachian Mountains.  It’s where the Piedmont joins the coastal plain, and scientists tell us that Summerville used to be the ocean shoreline.

Summerville, or Sand Hills, was not heavily populated in the late 1700s.  During the Revolutionary War, in 1780, Elijah Clarke and his forces came up the road, Battle Row, fighting the British all the way.  Some men received large tracts of land, after the Revolutionary War.  George Walton, John Leach and George Walker, just to name a few.

In 1800, a titled Englishman, Lord Thomas Sandwich and his wife, came to Augusta and started a special school on the Hill.  They called it, Mount Salubrity.  The academy was in a house at the corner of Cummings and John’s Road.  Lord Sandwich wanted to call the whole community Salubrity.  But Nathaniel Durkee had a self sufficient plantation called Summerville.  Durkee’s  pottery  was made on the site.

By 1806, the whole Hill settlement had become known as Summerville.  Summerville was known for the absence of mosquitoes.  They nationally advertised, “No mosquitoes in Summerville.”  Summerville is some 300 feet above downtown Augusta.  With the westerly winds blowing the Hill was more comfortable and healthier than lowerAugusta.  Early in the 1800s people knew that malarial fever resulted from vapors put off by the river and swamps.  Summerville was healthy.  They didn’t have any fever.  As we know today, mosquitoes caused the fever.

In 1835, they put a new road in called the Plank- Road.  At the bottom of the hill was a swampy area. They disrupted the swamp as they put in the road.  At that point, mosquitoes went up on the Hill and their descendents still live in Summerville today, biting folks.

Summerville is a part of the city of Augusta, but it wasn’t always.  The Sand Hills was its own community.   In the early 1900s it was too far to drive to Florida for vacation, but Augusta was just right.  The climate in Augusta during the winter is very comfortable.  We had hotels, private room’s in homes, and even an 18-hole golf course, the Augusta Country Club.  The village of Summerville was incorporated in 1861.  The city of Augusta talked about annexation of the Hill, but the Hill didn’t want it, or at other times, Augusta did not want the annex.  That was the case until 1910.

In February of 1910, Dr. Charles W Hickman was taking his evening stroll. He was walking up Milledge Road.  He was confronted by a person  with a pistol and was shot, killed and  robbed.  It was a shock for the community.  They knew they didn’t have enough policemen, or fire protection, for that matter.  Some of the folks of Summerville then went toAugusta asking for annexation. Augusta then approached the State of Georgia.  They said it would be okay if the folks of Summerville approved it.  They took a vote on October 26, 1911.  233 favored annexation and 131 were against it.  On January 1, 1912, annexation took effect.  Summerville became the sixth ward of Augusta.

In 1921, the boll weevil came to Augusta.  It wiped out our cotton.  That’s when tourism became our cash base.  As someone once said, “tourists went to Summerville, because they were invited.”  The social season on the Hill was from Thanksgiving to Easter.  Formal dinner dances were held once or twice a month.  It was and is a great community.

You need to drive through Summerville.  See Gould’s Marker, at the corner of Milledge and Walton Way.  The marker at Gould’s corner, was put there by Mary Cummings in the 1930s.     Summerville, a great part of Augusta history.

Written by Mark Woodard

Research resources:

  • The Story of Augusta. Cashin, Edward J. Spartanburg, SC. The Reprint Company Publishing. (1996)
  • Augusta, A Pictorial History. Callahan, Helen. Richmond County Historical Society Publisher. (1980)
  • Confederate City, Augusta Georgia 1860-1865. Corley, Florence Fleming. (1995)
  • Memorial History of Augusta, Georgia. Jones, Charles C. Spartanburg, SC. The Reprint Publishers. (1890)
  • From City to Countryside. Haltermann, Bryan M. (1997)
Tagged as: , , , ,

Leave a Response