Summerville, Union County, Oregon

Located at the north end of Grande Ronde Valley the town of Summerville was one of the early im­portant commercial and trading centers of the region. It was first settled in the spring of 1865, being a stage station on the George Thomas line of coaches. The station was operated by W. H. Patton whose homestead was the town site. Mr. Patton was also the first postmaster of the town giving it the name Summerville in honor of his friend and neighbor Alexander Sum­merville, who had lived near Mr. Patton in the Willamette Valley near Harrisburg. The Summerville post office was established on 30 May 1865.

     The first business establishment in Summerville was a meat shop kept by  Henry Rinehart which opened on 1 May 1865. The first physician in the town was Dr. Roberts, who was also the first resident clergyman, being a minister of the Episcopal Church as well as a doctor.

     The stage line by way of Sum­merville stopped operating in 1868 and was never resumed except for a brief period in 1874 when, as has been related, the Northwestern Stage line came by this route instead of the Meacham Road. The difficulties of moving the heavy coaches over the steep grades and rough roads. Thomas & Buckles Road route impractical.     Summerville was for many little better than trails, made the years the only trading point north of La Grande or Island City, and with the increase in settlement in that portion of the Grande Ronde Valley it grew apace. It has been described by some as the most typically "western" of all of the valley towns from 1865 to 1887. It had many saloons and a large brewery and contemporaries stated that the poker games went on day and night with occasional gun play to add further life to the community. Summerville boasted a weekly newspaper from 1889 to 1891, the Summerville Annotator, published by J. E. Devine. The press on which it was printed was moved in 1891 to Elgin where it was used to print the Elgin Recorder. For many years Sum­merville enjoyed twice daily stage service to Elgin, but with the construction of the railroad to Elgin in 1891 this was abandoned. Being a few miles off the railroad Summerville began to decline shortly thereafter and is now only a shadow of its former self.


Contributed by: Jim Reavis  

Union County



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