Summerfield - Past and Present, A 1903 Sketch
Some Ancient History Brought to Mind on Viewing
the Businesses of a Live Commercial and Agricultural Center

The editor of the Star spent an hour Saturday evening in Summerfield and gathered in six new subscribers for the Star, Marion’s most popular local paper. In looking around we could not help thinking of the people we met and the friends we made there twenty years ago. What wonderful changes these years have made. We noted the Messrs. Charles and Will White, then the leading merchants, farmers, orange growers and citizens of that place.

About that time Colonel Post of the “Sunshine State,” Kansas, a genuine promotor and as breezy as the winds that sweep the prairie fields of his native state, had purchased a large tract of land just west of the village and had induced a number of people from Kansas to settle on it, one of whom was our Ocala merchant, Geo. A. Nash, who, with ardor and optimistic ideas of life, was to make a fortune in trucking and orange growing, with the aid of his mule, “Jumbo.” Then, there was Mr. Cook from Louisiana, grandfather of our efficient and popular sheriff, P. H. Nugent, who was one of nature’s noblemen and as fine a horticulturist and trucker that ever stirred mother earth. Our present sheriff was the assistant. “Uncle” Fletcher Frink was the sawmill man and cotton ginner of that section, one of the best read men we have ever met. His nephew, Samuel Frink, was then a large factor in setting out and growing orange trees.

Lemuel Dillard was the most successful farmer of that section, a cotton grower of note and father of the present generation of Dillards, Samuel, Tom and Frank. The Carraway boys were then the life of the settlement. C. L. Livers was then railroad agent of the place.

Squire Newsom of blessed memory, and his son, Dr. W. V. Newsom, had just come from Alabama to begin life in the “Flowery Kingdom.” The latter has since become one of Ocala’s ablest physicians.

Squire Dodson was then in his prime and could beat the world growing sugar cane and making syrup.

A. D. Mitchell came in that year from Alabama, and has since proved a model farmer, trucker and citizen. “Uncle” Peter Cooper, a fine type of “before de war” darkies, was a factotum around the depot, while Noah Goin, another negro, , was a model farmer and set an example worthy to be imitated by all of his color.

Of all those mentioned only the Messrs. White, Carraway, Dr. Newsom, Mirchell and Livers are among the living. The rest, all splendid citizens, have crossed the river, but left a sweet memory of their gracious and kindly natures and noble manhood.

Then the place was known as Whitesville, in honor of the Whites, and as it possessed the only railroad, the old F. C. & P., that ran as far south as Wildwood, all the transportation of Lake Weir, which was then just becoming a noted orange grove center, was from Summerfield.

The present lovely village of Belleview was then just being incubated. It only had one house, which was occupied by Mr. Pelot, father of Frank Pelot.

During the past decade, the name of Whiteville was changed to Summerfield to perpetuate the name of Colonel Summers, the original settler of the place, whose hospitable home was on a crest to the east of the pond or lake, named for the large planter and who introduced a fine strain of cattle into that section, the memory of which still survives, and whose example the present successful merchant of that place, Mr. Nathan Mayo, is about to imitate, as he has purchased the land around Summers’ pond, enclosed and has made a hog and cattle ranch of it.

Summerfield, of late years, owing to the location of the Ellis mill, a mile to the east, and now owned by the Goethe brothers, and also the big West mill, three miles to the west, and the railroad spur which runs to South Lake Weir, has become a station of considerable importance.

Nathan Mayo’s business has so increased that he was compelled to add forty feet to his store room, and in a few weeks, when all the goods are arranged on the shelves of his new addition, he will make a display of stock and variety that will have few equals in a country store. In one corner he has fitted up a neat and well supplied drug department, and as Mr. Mayo’s knowledge of drugs is considerable, it is held with delight by the people of his section, as the place has no physician. It is proving a convenience the people appreciate.

Mr. Mayo is a very popular merchant, genial in manners, of an accommodating disposition, fair and honorable in his dealings, and draws trade from miles around. Saturday was a busy day, and from the time we peeped into the store room until 11:30 that night, the counters were lined with anxious buyers. Keeping four salesmen busy, in which Mrs. Mayo, who is a true helpmeet to her husband, was one of the best.

Across the railroad track to the east, are four small stores, run by colored people, namely; M. C. Jackson, Jim Jones, W. M. Simmons, T. A. Kent, all of whom seem to thrive.

The trucking season around Summerfield was a very successful one and those who have been in it are making extensive preparations for another crop next season, some of whom will enlarge their acreage.

As an illustration, a Mr. Hough of South Carolina came to Summerfield last February, immediately took a hand in the trucking business and cleared up $500 by August. He was so well pleased with the country, climate and people that he purchased the Isaac Nix place, and his parents and several old neighbors in South Carolina are coming to make Summerfield their home.

Talking to a citizen who has been a farmer in this section for some years, with experience in other Southern states, says he deems Marion county a favored spot, and with proper judgement and application he can see no good reason why a man cannot make a good living and save money. He has done it, others have, and others can follow the successful path. Speaking for himself, he said he has cleared $1000 for several seasons, not counting the surplus in his barn and corn crib.

Mr. W. F. McWhite also illustrates this point. He for thirteen years was a track foreman, farming a little as a side issue. He resigned his position a year ago, devoted all of his time to farming and trucking, and is satisfied with his labors.

T. W. Williams, a mere youth, of Starke, has been railroad agent at Summerfield for over a year and has become very popular by his pleasant manners and strict attention to duty.

To the friends we met, patronage extended, invitations proffered, and hospitality enjoyed the editor returns his sincere thanks, and while he missed old familiar faces and friends, those of later date were as cordial and kind and are keeping up the reputation of Summerfield for neighborly traits and good citizenship. 

Source: Ocala Evening Star: 9-22-1903

Transcribed, Formatted and Submitted by Linda Flowers 

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Copyrighted 2016- Linda Flowers
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