The Township of Summit, the smallest in Mason County, was the first township erected by the board of supervisors of Mason County. It was originally part of Pere Marquette Township.
The organization of Summit Township was established at a meeting in December of 1859. It was voted that Town 17 North, Range 18 West, except sections 1, 2, and 3, and Town 17 North, Range 17 West, except sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, from the present township of Pere Marquette, would be organized into a new township, to be called Summit.
The first settlers in what is now Summit Township were William Quevillon, Washington Weldon, and Peter LaBelle.
In 1835, William Quevillon was the first man to come to the area. He probably arrived from Grand Haven while on a fur buying trip for L. Compau of Grand Rapids.
The first settlement in the area was at LaBelle’s Landing, later to become Summit Township Park. Theodore LaBelle came to the area in 1858. W. H. Foster was also 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 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 on October 12, 1860 and again on 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 a 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.
The first Summit Township meeting was held on 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 the first election or town meeting and to exercise the same powers as inspectors of election at ordinary township meetings.
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 traversed the township in various directions, which supplied 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 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. 1867 was the date of the first recorded death, that of Caroline Beebe.
Summit 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.