History

The Township of Summit, the smallest township in Mason County, was the first township erected by the board of supervisors of Mason County originally a part of Pere Marquette Township. At a meeting in December of 1859 it was voted that town 17 North, of range 18 West, except sections 1, 2 and 3, and town 17 North, of range 17 West, except sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 from the present township of Pere Marquette, be organized into a new township, to be called Summit. The first Township Meeting was held the first Monday in April 1860, at the house of William Quevillon. George A Caswell, Washington Weldon and William Quevillon were appointed three electors of the township, to preside at such first election or town meeting, and exercise the same powers as inspectors of election at ordinary township meetings.

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The first settlers in what is now Summit Township were William Quevillon, Washington Weldon and Peter La Belle. W H Foster was an early settler in Summit and was the first farmer in the county to use a reaper and mower. His farm covered 500 acres.

In 1835, William Quevillon, the first man to come to the area, probably came from Grand Haven while on a fur buying trip for L. Compau of Grand Rapids. The first settlement was at LaBelle’s Landing, later to become Summit Township Park. Theodore LaBelle came to the area in 1858.

In 1850, William Quevillion purchased 160 acres on the claybanks (clay buffs along Lake Michigan, south of Buttersville.) He built a log cabin on the property which was later owned by George Beckman. Mr. Quevillion kept a store and post office in his cabin. He was appointed post master of Fairview Post Office October 12, 1860 and again March 19, 1869.

The first lumber camps in Summit were on LaBelle’s Landing and Bass Lake.

After the war, George Hopkins, son of a wealthy plantation and slave owner, used his small inheritance to buy a farm on the lake which now bears his name. His old nurse, a former slave, made many friends among the neighborhood children.

Summit residents were fortunate to have fine hardwood forests which furnished a living for the early settlers, Maple syrup from the “sugar bushes” provided a cash crop as well as food. Later fruit, especially peaches, apples. pears, plums and cherries, lured farmers to this beautiful area. Lake Michigan moderated the temperatures and protected the orchards. Numerous small streams traverse the township in various directions, which supply the farms with pure water.

The first school was built in an area called Fairview. The first teacher was Miss Caine, who later married Peter Glasmire. Church services were held in the homes by circuit riders, who rode horseback through the area from Frankfort to Pentwater. The Methodist Church built on the highway between Kistler and Hawley Roads was the first church in Summit. Much later this congregation combined with the Evangelical United Brethren Church to form St. Paul United Methodist Church.

The first marriage of record was of Charles Stewart Kibbey to Mary McClatchie on February 28, 1868. In 1867 was the date of the first recorded death, that of Caroline Beebe.

The township is bounded on the north by Pere Marquette, on the east by Riverton, on the south by Oceana County, and on the west by Lake Michigan.