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Other Summit Information:
New Summit Cemetery

A Brief History of the Town of Summit
by Beverly Radez, Town Historian

The earliest historical information that I have about the area is on a marker, recently replaced near the outlet on the southern end of Summit Lake which reads: "Lieut. Col. John Johnson & Joseph Brant encamped here with a large band of Indians in Oct. 1780 previous to Schoharie Valley Massacre". In 1683, this was Albany County, later becoming Tryon County for a short time, and in 1795, became Schoharie County. In 1803, it was part of Jefferson and Cobleskill, and in 1819, the Town of Summit was formed.

Both historians, Simms and Roscoe, seemed to think that the lake was once called Utsayantho after the Indian maiden, but actually, Utsayantha Lake is on the border of Delaware County, near Stamford but partly in Jefferson.

The first Inn was built by Benjamin Rider in 1794. Many sawmills and gristmills were built around the hamlets of Summit, namely - Eminence, Lutheranville, Charlotteville, Beards Hollow, and the Summit Four Corners, now called Summit. Dexter Brown built a log house and kept the first tavern. Industrious people like Levi Ives made potash and whiskey along with the flour at the mills.

Charlotteville is on the Charlotte Creek which flows to the Susquehanna River from the Valie (Fly), now known as Spruce Lake, while Summit Lake and the Bears Gulf (or Gulch) flow to the Schoharie Creek, Bear Gulf via the Cobleskill Creek and Summit Lake by way of the Westkill in Blenheim.

Charlotteville, once the largest village, was famous for its Seminary, consisting of several buildings due to several fires, and the planning by the Methodist Church was started just before 1850 when building began. Its heyday was in 1854 with over 1,000 students registered, seventeen teachers plus a principal but attendance steadily declined and in 1875, its doors were closed for the last time. Much more visual information can be found at the Charlotteville museum, open in summer on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.

As a better means of transportation to the Seminary, the famous plank road was constructed and another marker on Route 10 proclaims "Old Tollgate on the Charlotteville Plank Road - 1855". The toll for most vehicles was five cents. Two more markers in Charlotteville are about the Seminary.

In back of the Tollgate House is a hill called Mt. Wharton ( 2,428 ft.). It was the site of a stone quarry, active in the 1800s, and a dirt road was built towards Richmondville, where heavy limestone blocks were taken to the D & H Railroad by wagon . . . the purpose being to avoid the tolls. It is still visible when the trees are bare, west of the Mt. Wharton farm across the hill.

There were many churches, several built by Anannias Jump who also built the two hotels at the Four Corners, one being the Summit House, the Stage Stop, where it is told that John Wilkes Booth once stayed. On the northern corner was Summit Rest which became a resort hotel in summer. The Red Barn, now a restaurant and bar was formerly a shop that made wagons and coffins besides being shelter for cows and other farm animals. (next to Summit Rest).

Nearer to the lake in the 1800s, the Crowes Nest Hotel was started when Mrs. Carrie Crowe advertised in a Brooklyn newspaper, "Board in the Catskills - $ 5 a week". This was so successful that she had to ask her neighbor across the road to take in some of the overflow and that house became Lakeview. However, Lakeview burned in 1904 (lightning) but was rebuilt with three stories and is still in business as a restaurant and hotel. Crowes Nest burned in 1959 and Summit Rest in 1965 but the Summit House on the southern corner of the Four Corners was dismantled after many years of disuse.

Lutheranville was called "Tar Hollow" after an incident concerning a tax collector being tarred and feathered and contained a Lutheran Church, school, and a post office that became known as the smallest PO in the State. There was also a "Leatherville" nearby where hides were tanned.

Eminence once had a telegraph line to Jefferson and Richmondville plus two churches, school, mills, shops, and a general store and post office combined. It also had a Cooper Shop as did Summit. Summit boasted the making of fine butter by Elisha "Butter" Brown. Now, these hamlets are mostly residential but in Charlotteville, there is a book binding business, "Story House Corp.". Two prominent men who grew up in Summit are the late J. Ernest Wharton, Congressman ( 1950-65 ), County Judge and DA before that, and Dr. Ward Oliver of Cobleskill. There are others, but if I listed them, this wouldn't be a brief history.

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This page established January 12, 1997