John W. Summy of Palmyra PA has spent years researching the Summy Family genealogy. I (Frank Deis) am a Summy descendant, via Maria Alice Summy -- and did some work several years ago which caused John to contact me. I was able to help him with translations of old Swiss German documents. Now John is publishing his research -- in very small editions -- and I wanted to make the outline of his work available online. There is already a Summy web-page with basic genealogy information, maintained by Tony Summy. Paula Barker has set up a SUMMA web page
(There are lots of Summy's on the 1850 Census, Kosciusko Co. IN)
I wrote the "blurb" on Hans Peter Summy in the Palatines to America page based on information from John W. Summy.
John W. Summy can be reached at 717-832-3182
His address is:
John W. Summy
117 W. Spruce St.
Palmyra, PA 17078
Here is John Summy's "Introduction":
The SUMI family beginnings go back to the Fourteenth Century, on fragmented records, to Switzerland. The modern village of Sumiswald (Sumi's Woods) may or may not have been established by our family. This village is in Canton Bern, northeast of Bern and almost due west of Lucerne. By 1997 it is thought that this town was first established by the Sumwalts, a noble family.
Tradition had it that the SUMI family may have originated with the Waldenses of southern France and northern Italy. It has also been suggested that they may have come from an area near the River Somme in northeastern France, hence our name.
These conjectures seem to lack substance, as does the more recent tradition that "French" brothers came to America. In 1995 a record was found of a house built by Peter Sumi in 1590 in Lauenen, Canton Bern. By Swiss history this mountain area was first settled by the "Ligurians," an unknown people, and later by the Lombards, a German tribe. About the 10th Century AD, the German tribe, the Allemani, moved in and 'soon outnumbered the local inhabitants.'
While the family did, indeed, emigrate from Alsace, that province and area were almost totally German, not French, in that time frame and the Sumi pioneers all bore German names and spoke German.
The earliest known family member was Johannes Suomi, from Saanen in Canton Bern in 1324. There are Sumi families living in this community to the present day. Jacob Sumi was a tailor in Bern in 1528. The Saanen District at that time included the towns of Saanen, Gsteig, Gstaad, and Lauenen, where Sumi names are evident from that time forward.
Jacob Sumi was the son of a priest from Stans, Canton of Unterwalden. Jacob's father converted to the "new Protestant religion" and was a pastor in Spiez and Krauchtal from 1554-1559. He died in 1565 when he was stabbed by a priest.
It seems to some that JACOB SUMI set the pattern for the Sumi family who have been a strong part of the religious communitites where they settled. The family has produced many ministers and minor church officials. Because they have been primarily a law-abiding, upright, and industrious family, it has been difficult to trace many of the family records.
In 1531, Christian Sumi, was Keeper of the Castle at Saanen, Switzerland. In 1533, Clawi Sumi, known as "Venner," was keeper of the Flag at Saanen. Only the most trusted and bravest warrior held this position.
From the early Seventeenth Century there were a number of marriages of Sumi family members in the Saanen, Switzerland area. Casper Sumi, father of Hans Peter Sumi, Sr., the first known American pioneer, was thought to have been born about 1650. There is a marriage record in "Wuertt." [Church of Latter Day Saints] of Casper Sumi to Marie Clauser in 1672.
Fritz Kirchner, our recent researcher, says Casper married Anna Annen of Lauenen, Canton Bern, the daughter of Anthoni Annen and Christina Schwitzgebel. This Casper was the son of Peter Sumi and Anna Geret.
The crest of the Sumi family is an "Open Bible", in white, on a blue background.
Hans Peter Sumi, Sr. and his wife, Maria Magdalena (Haldy), sailed from Rotterdam, Holland in the Brigantine "Richard and Elizabeth" under Captain Christopher Clymer.
They touched at Plymouth, England, presumably for supplies, and landed at the City of Philadelphia on September 28, 1733. According to passenger lists and other records, the family consisted of Hans Peter Sumi, Sr. age 59; Maria Magdalena, age 58; Maria, age 24; Hans Jacob, age 22; Hans Peter, Jr., age 20; Otto Frederick, age 15; Hans Michael, age 10; and Johannes, age 5.
The ages are known to be incorrect in several instances. Maria was born in 1706, Jacob was born in 1711, and Johannes was born in 1723. The ages of the others have not been verified. There is also a tradition that there was another brother who "died at sea."
Apparently, as other immigrants did, they walked to the Courthouse in Philadelphia to take the required Oath of Allegiance to the English King. The men made their "mark," unable to write in English. Hans Michael and Johannes were listed as minors.
Where they spent the first and second years is unknown at present, but by 1735 they were in Earl Township of Lancaster County, near New Holland. Peter Sumi, Sr. was a minister at the Groffdale Mennonite Church for several years. Tradition says that he and his wife died in that area and were buried at that church.
A German custom of the time was to have a first or "Christian" name but to use their second or "called" name in everyday life. And so the sons were known in America only as Jacob, Peter, Frederick or "Fritz", Michael, and Johannes.
Confusion in records often occurred because English was the "official" language and when referred to by English writers, their first names were often used. Their German friends knew them only by their "called" names.
Over the years, many spellings of the name were used and often changed in the same branch of the family. It depended upon the person doing the writing. Summy and Summey are predominant today. Census records varied greatly. Current usage is:
PIONEER Jacob Sumi married Barbara Hiestand, widow of John Jacob Bear, of Earl Township, Pennsylvania and farmed and increased the plantation. They cared for his parents in their later years and all four, by tradition, are buried at the Groffdale Mennonite Church.
PIONEER Peter Sumi also took out some land patents in Earl Township, and later in Heidelberg Township (which is now in Lebanon Co.), PA.
PIONEER Johannes Sumi also had land in what is now Jackson Township of Lebanon County, PA.
No records have been found of land patents taken out in Pennsylvania by PIONEERS Michael and Frederick.
By 1750 Peter and Michael show up on tax lists in the area which is now Berks or Lebanon Co., PA.
This area is north of South Mountain and between it and First or Blue Mountain of the Blue Ridge. This is the Lebanon Valley and land there is very fertile as it is in present Lancaster County.
Trinity Tulpehocken Church still stands near present day Myerstown, PA. The entire first page of the earliest preserved church record at Tulpehocken is filled with the baptisms of the children of PIONEERS Peter, Frederick, and Michael in 1749, 1751, and 1753. Johannes had a daughter baptised at Stouchsburg (a mile west) in 1763.
There was a sub-congregation of Tulpehocken (ministers were scarce) at Swatara and in one baptism, Peter is mentioned as being from there. The church was located at the confluence of the Big and Little Swatara Creeks - the present site of Jonestown in Lebanon Co., PA. The minister was Conrad Templeman who did not keep good records in the beginning of his ministry.
Peter apparently lived between the two churches. Two of his children had Steins as sponsors at baptism. The Stein family (of Muscatine, Iowa) family history includes the following:
The Indian Trail above closely followed what is now Route 501 going north from Myerstown, PA. This little excerpt from history is also part of the Summy Family History. Two of PIONEER Peter's children had Steins as god-parents.
After Braddock's defeat at the hands of the French and Indians, near what is now Pittsburgh, PA, in 1755, the Iroquois confederacy was shattered. The Mohawks and Oneidas (who had adopted the Tuscaroras driven out of Eastern North Carolina) on the east, still sided with the English. The Onondagas were split but most of the Cayugas and Senecas in the west openly joined the French. They thought the English were "finished."
Worst of all, no longer united, the Iroquois no longer had the strength or will to refuse passage of other tribes and war parties through their territory. Nor did they restrain their "subject" Delawares (Lenni Lenape) or the Shawnees from attacking the English settlers along the Blue Mountain, from Allentown to the Maryland line.
In the Fall of 1755 this section was the scene of many Indian raids. Eleven settlers were killed and others scalped. Children were carried away. The 1756 return of the tax assessor in Bethel Township in Berks Co. PA showed that 54 people had "fled" while only 98 remained in the entire township. It was the same in all nearby townships.
This threat, along with the promise of cheap land in the Carolinas, accelerated the migration of Germans down the "Great Wagon Road" through Harris's Ferry (Harrisburg), Carlisle, Chambersburg, and down the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to near Roanoke, then across the South Mountain to Wachovia (Winston Salem). Later this route was extended to Salisbury, NC.
However, the French were also paying the Cherokee Indians to attack the settlers and so, for several years, it was also extremely hazardous in North Carolina. Some settlers went to South Carolina for a time and others spent a few years near Frederick, Maryland. The Indians were finally attacked and defeated in 1763/65 and settlers then moved in large numbers to Carolina.
It is believed that Frederick was the first Summy PIONEER to go south, possibly soon after his children's baptisms in 1753. Michael was still on the Pennsylvania tax lists in 1758. Peter was in Heidelberg Township, Berks or Lebanon Co., PA in 1756. He placed an ad in the Germantown paper, a German language publication, in 1761, possibly to sell his Pennsylvania land.
Jacob remained on his plantation in Earl Township, Lancaster Co., PA and died there in 1762.
Johannes remained in Pennsylvania as far as we know but left no known record.
There is reason to believe that PIONEER Michael settled in the Yadkin River Valley in Rowan (near Davidson) County in North Carolina. Land patents are shown in the Uwharrie area on branches of the Yadkin River.
Frederick and Peter apparently went further on into the Catawba River Valley according to family history and tradition, and settled on the south fork of the Catawba River, near what is now Lincolnton, NC. Peter had many land grants starting in 1765, but we have not found any for PIONEER Frederick.
Frederick and his sons, like many others, according to President George Washington, were missed on the 1790 census. (SOME wanted to be missed because a census was, in their view, the first step to taxation.)
Having lived in Pennsylvania for almost twenty years, the Summey PIONEERS had many children born who are not recorded. With the exception of PIONEER Jacob, no authentic list of family members has been found for the Summy PIONEERS.
The history books say that Johannes had three sons, John, Abraham, and Michael. We have identified his sons, John and Michael. He had at least one daughter, baptised at the Christ Lutheran Church, in Stouchsburg, Berks Co., PA.
For the other PIONEERS, Peter, Frederick, and Michael, conjecture is rampant. Families for them are based primarily on the ages of those Summeys found in the 1800 and 1810 census records in North Carolina and the 1787 will of Peter recorded in Lincoln Co., NC.
Click here for an excerpt from John W. Summy's genealogy work.
This web page is at: http://www-rci.rutgers.edu/~deis/summy.html
Last revised 6 March 2003
Comments or corrections can be sent by mail or email to
John W. Summy (address above)
Frank Deis (email@example.com)