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Papers, 1772-1937, of the Summer, Dreher,
        Efird, and Mayer Families
  
    A gift to SCL Manuscripts Division announced in 2007

| Manuscripts Gifts 2007 | Front Page 2007 | Previous Issues | Friends of the Library |

Six hundred twelve manuscript items and eight manuscript volumes, 1772-1937, including land papers, letters, accounts, receipts, and diplomas relate to several generations of the Summer, Dreher, Efird, and Mayer families of the Dutch Fork region of South Carolina.

The earliest item in the collection, a land grant and plat for 300 acres in the “fork between [the] Saludy [Saluda] and Broad River[s] on a Branch [of] Crims Creek” issued to John Adam Summer in 1772, documents the Summer family’s settlement in the area, located in present day Newberry and Lexington counties. A total of five generations of the Summer family are represented in the collection, beginning with the above mentioned John Adam Summer (1716-1796). One of his sons, Nicholas (1754-1781), expanded the family’s holdings in the Dutch Fork with the purchase of fifty additional acres of land in 1777 from John Kunth. By 1804, his eldest son and namesake, John Adam Summer (1744-1809), had acquired enough land in Lexington District to convey five hundred forty acres to his daughter Eve Margaret Summer (b. 1775) and her husband, John Benedict Mayer (1761-1817).

Judging from surviving accounts kept with merchants in Columbia and Charleston (dating from 1839 to 1855), it is evident that Nicholas’ son, also named John Adam Summer (1779-1855), was a successful cotton planter. By the late 1820s he had acquired enough wealth to enable him to send his three eldest sons to South Carolina College in Columbia. Diplomas included in the collection indicate that Nicholas (1804-1836), Henry (1809-1869), and John Adam Summer (1812-1836) graduated in 1828, 1831, and 1834 respectively.

Two of these brothers, Nicholas and John Adam, would die in 1836, while fighting in Florida, during the Second Seminole War. Two letters, dated 23 April and 13 May, written by John to the their father in Talladega County, Alabama, describe a skirmish of 30 March during which Nicholas suffered a gunshot wound that resulted in a broken left thigh and his subsequent hospitalization aboard the Vandalia and Concord. In the letter of 13 May, he notes: “Brother Nicholas was suddenly taken very low by a rupture of one of the blood vessels…His wound suppurates freely. The discharge is very offensive….His arms are somewhat paralized from his being forced to lie in the same position….He is fully sensible of the nature of his wound…and has given up every hope of ever more seeing Home.” Writing to the elder John Adam Summer on 17 June 1836 from Fort Brooke, East Florida, Judge Augustus Steele speculated that the cause of Nicholas’ death on 13 June was the “neglect of amputation” and informed him that he had been buried with full military honors. He was then forced to apprise Summer of the death of his other son. Though John had been somewhat “indisposed,” he noted that no one thought the illness serious until the day of Nicholas’ funeral. After that he “sunk rapidly and yesterday about 4 o’clock he joined his brother in the world of spirits.” He assured Summer that “the brothers are placed side by side companions in arms and in death, & both were attended with the same honours and with the same general sentiment of right and respect.”

Eventually John Adam Summer (1779-1855) and his wife, Mary Margaret Houseal (1787-1871), would have a total of six sons. In addition to the three already named, there were William (1815-1878), Adam (1818-1866), and Thomas Jefferson (1826-1852). There would also be one daughter, Catherine (1823-1906). For most of his adult life, William operated Pomaria Nursery, in Newberry County. Upon his death, nephew John Adam Summer (1851-1934), his brother Henry’s son, assumed control. Thomas Jefferson traveled to Europe in 1846, and his passport and a letter of introduction to “M. le Baron Adalbert de Bornstedt,” penned on 3 January 1846 by an individual from Columbia identified only as “Maier,” survive in the collection. He would die shortly after his return in Florida where his brother Adam had relocated.

Upon assuming control of Pomaria Nursery in December 1878, John Adam Summer apparently issued a new price list and sought to reassure his late uncle’s customers that they could still expect to receive a quality product. A manuscript draft of this advertisement signed by John, “successor to William Summer,” lists prices for “Fruit and Ornamental Trees, Shrubs, Roses, Evergreens, Flowering Plants, etc” and states “The assertion of the ‘foreign tree Peddlars’ that our Nursery has been discontinued and that there are no healthy trees for sale by us, is a gross misrepresentation - put forth by them to enable the sale of their (too often) spurious stock.” In 1874, John Adam Summer married Alice Magdalena Efird (1853-1938). This marriage united two of the most established and respected families of the Dutch Fork.

Alice Efird was the daughter of Lutheran minister Daniel Efird and Henrietta Dreher. Daniel Efird settled permanently in the Dutch Fork in 1852 after leaving Stanley County, North Carolina. He was persuaded to come to South Carolina by the sixty-three-year-old minister Godfrey Dreher (1789-1875) due to the latter’s increasing work load and failing health.

Born near present-day Irmo, South Carolina, the son of John Dreher (1765-1847) and Ann Hollinhead (d. 1792), Dreher was one of the most well known members of the Lutheran clergy in South Carolina. He helped organize the South Carolina Synod in 1824 and ultimately served as president (1824) and treasurer (1825-1834) of the same. Following doctrinal disagreements with the body and questions regarding his bookkeeping while treasurer, he separated himself from the South Carolina Synod in 1837. For the next fifteen years he would officiate over as many as eight congregations which had left the South Carolina Synod at his urging. Highlighting this division of the church is a letter written on 5 July 1841 by the elders of St. Peter’s (Piney Woods) to John Bachman, as president of the South Carolina Synod. In it, the elders, identified only as “Jacob W.,” “J.M.,” and “J.S.” argued they had a right to choose who should officiate over their church, explained their reasons for locking the church when the Synod-appointed pastor arrived to preach, and informed him that “we never approved much of Synods, because we had our doubts of their good effects, and unless a favourable change in a short time, we shall utterly dispare and forever stand aloof to Synods.”

Daniel Efird made his first visit to South Carolina in 1851, when he first met the Reverend Godfrey Dreher and his family. Soon after his return to North Carolina from this trip, Dreher wrote him asking him to consider leaving his congregations in North Carolina. On 23 August 1851, Dreher argued that these could be “attended to by other ministers of the same order, living convenient to them,” but that this is “not the case with us.” He lamented that as “as old School Lutherans, we are in the midst of the generalists, or new Lutherans, and Methodists who are takeing the same course, trying every means they possibly can of making inroads into our Congregations, and if possible to break them down.” He informed Efird that the congregations in South Carolina had raised four hundred dollars already, and that “if you come agreeable to promise, they will make up more.” Dreher also assured him that “a unanimous vote was taken, in favour of your comeing…to locate in our midst.” Daniel was ordained by the Tennessee Synod the following year, moved to South Carolina, and married Godfrey Dreher’s youngest daughter, Henrietta (1828-1911) on 1 July 1852. During the same year, he convinced Dreher to ally all eight churches under his care with the Tennessee Synod. By 1854, Efird had taken pastoral care of all the Tennessee Synod churches in South Carolina. In addition to courtship correspondence between Daniel and Henrietta, there are numerous letters to her from female family members and friends written between 1846 and 1903.

Like her mother, Alice Efird Summer, received numerous letters from would-be suitors, and kept up a voluminous correspondence with female family members and friends. Many of these correspondents were classmates of Alice’s from Due West Female College, located in Abbeville County, South Carolina, which she attended during the 1872-73 academic year. The letters written to her from her family during this period express conflicting opinions over her educational pursuits. Her older cousin, Edwin James Dreher (1833-1907), a teacher in the Dutch Fork and western Georgia, urged her to postpone thoughts of marriage until she finished school, but her mother and father convinced her to abandon her studies due to financial constraints. In a letter of 19 February 1873, written from Pine Ridge, South Carolina, by Daniel Efird to Alice in Due West, she was reminded that neither of her younger brothers, Cyprian Melanchthon (1856-1941) and Daniel Franklin (1861-1927), had attained the level of education which she had, and that he no longer had the financial capabilities to send all three to school. Eight days later her mother informed her that she thought it was unnecessary for her to continue in school since she had “sutch a bright prospect for the futire.” This bright prospect was the interest John Adam Summer (1851-1934) and his mother, Frances Mayer Summer (1823-1900), had taken in Alice. Her mother continued, “Mrs. Somer come home perfectly delighted to here you so well spoken of and so many friends. She sayed that she thought a great deal of you but now she thought a great deall more. Alice you have a splendid opertunity to do well but remember you are dealing with one of the first Familys so be cautious how you speak and act.” John Adam Summer and Alice Efird were married in 1874.

Alice’s younger brother, known to the family as “Cyp,” did eventually receive a college education; he attended the Lutheran-affiliated Newberry College, then located in Walhalla, South Carolina, from 1876 to 1878. One interesting letter written by Cyp on 19 March 1877 from Walhalla to his father, evidently in response to inquiries made by the latter, informed him: “I can buy the best mountain whiskey here for $1.50 per gallon. By mountain whiskey I mean illicitly distilled whiskey. It is a direct violation of the Revenue Laws of the U.S. to handle such whiskey at all… I could get as much as you wanted, and ship it to you probably without detection, but…it will not do to tamper with it….as I can not be laying myself liable by dabbling in illicit whiskies.” However, he offered another solution, “I went to a man…and asked him what he would sell me good whiskey for, all requirements of law being complied with…he thought they could sell it for $1.60 or $1.75 per gallon…I am sure it will be cheaper than you can buy it at home, and it will be pure.”

The volumes included with the collection consist of a “Record of the Birth and Deaths of Slaves, Pomaria, S.C,” 1809-1901, listing 92 individuals by name, including birth and death dates, and in some cases parents’ names; lecture notes kept by Henry Summer, 1831-1834, during chemistry classes taught by Thomas Cooper at South Carolina College; a scrapbook, 1851-1860, kept by Henry Summer; an account book, 1851-1857 and 1876-1879, containing promissory notes and receipts of James K. Gilder (b. ca. 1832) and accounts kept between James K. Gilder (b. ca. 1856) and freedpersons in Newberry County; a legal account book, 1855-1860 and 1880, kept by an unknown individual in Abbeville County; an account book, 1856 and 1869-1872, inscribed on the inside of the front cover “Mr. William Summer, Nurseryman, Pomaria, South Carolina, U.S.A.,” also containing accounts between William Summer and freedpersons in Newberry County; monthly school register, 1887 and September 1891-May 1891, kept by J.F. Kiser in Rural Retreat, Virginia; and an account book, 1908-1910 and 1914, kept by an unknown individual, with entries for foodstuffs provided for the “College Boarding Hall,” presumably at Newberry College.

| Manuscripts Gifts 2007 | Previous Issues | Endowments | Friends of the Library |

 

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