Sylvenis J. Summer, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Sylvenis J. Summer

SYLVENIS J. SUMMER. For the past several years Mr. Summer has been actively concerned with matters pertaining to the automobile business in its various phases, and it is a source of justifiable pride to him that he is now the owner of one of the largest and best equipped public garages in the entire state, the same offering the best of machines for livery service as well as accommodations for machines owned by others. Mr. Summer is a native son of Porter county, which has been his home during the entire course of his life thus far, and he is known as one of the alert and progressive business men of Valparaiso, as well as a citizen of marked loyalty and public spirit.

Sylvenis J. Summer was born on the old homestead farm of his father in Porter township, Porter county, Indiana, and the date of his nativity was April 6, 1860. He is a son of John and Sabina (Ritter) Summer, the former of whom was born in the Dominion of Canada and the latter in Germany, whence she accompanied her parents on their immigration to America when she was a child of two years. John Summer gained his rudimentary education in Canada and was a lad of about ten years when he came with his parents to Porter county, Indiana. His father secured land and developed a farm in this county and here passed the residue of his life, as did also the mother. Here John Summer was reared to manhood under the conditions and influences of the pioneer days and during his earlier independent career he was engaged in agricultural pursuits. He then established his home in Valparaiso, where he long followed the vocation of stationary engineer and where he continued to reside until his death, at the age of sixty-eight years. He was a man of strong mentality and sterling integrity and he ever commanded secure place in the confidence and respect of the people of Porter county, within the borders of which virtually his entire life was passed. He was a staunch Republican in politics and both he and his wife were zealous members of the Mennonite church. He was a son of Christian Summer, who was a native of France and whose wife was born in one of the neighboring provinces of Germany.

It has already been noted that Mrs. Sabina (Ritter) Summer was a child of two years at the time of her parents' immigration from Germany to America, and the family remained for a, time in the state of New York, after which they removed to Porter county, Indiana, where the father secured a tract of wild land and reclaimed a farm. He became one of the thrifty representatives of the agricultural industry in this county in the pioneer days and his old homestead, which he obtained from the government, is situated in Porter township, Porter county. John and Sabina Summer are survived by three sons and one daughter, and the subject of this review is the eldest of the number. William and Amos are now residents of the city of Chicago, and Hattie, the only daughter, is the wife of Robert Wark, of Valparaiso. The devoted wife and mother was summoned to the life eternal at the age of eighty-three years and her memory is revered by all who knew her.

He whose name initiates this review passed his boyhood days in Porter township and his early experiences of a practical order were those gained in connection with the farm, the while his educational advantages were those afforded in the district schools. He was married in 1886 and in the same year established his home on a farm two miles west of Valparaiso, in Center township. There he gave his energies to diversified agriculture and stock-growing during the ensuing two years, at the expiration of which, in 1888, he removed to Valparaiso and engaged in the wholesale fruit and confectionery trade, with which he continued to be identified for eight years. For five years he was employed as a traveling salesman, and later he turned his attention to the automobile business, in connection with which he had the agency in Indiana for the Holsman Automobile Company. Mr. Summer kept pace with the marvelous development of the automobile business and finally, in the spring of 1911, he opened his present fine garage, the service of which in every detail is maintained at the best metropolitan standard. The building utilized is owned by Mr. Summer and is a substantial brick structure, sixty-six by one hundred and thirty-two feet in dimensions, -- conceded to be one of the largest and most perfectly appointed in the entire state. The business has already grown to be one of substantial order, with an appreciative patronage, and in addition to the flourishing enterprise controlled in this connection Mr. Summer is also the owner of a finely improved farm of two hundred acres, located in Center township and only two miles west of Valparaiso, the county seat. To this fine landed estate he gives a general supervision and he has been specially successful in all of his business undertakings, this success being based on energetic and progressive activities and sterling integrity of purpose.

Mr. Summer is a man of most genial and democratic personality and he has a host of friends in his native state. He is a staunch supporter of the cause of the Republican party, but is essentially a business man and thus has shown no "hankering" for public office of any description. He has been a specially appreciative student of the history and teachings of the time-honored Masonic fraternity and has covered the entire gamut of the York and Scottish Rite bodies, in which latter he is affiliated with Indiana Sovereign Consistory, at Indianapolis, in which he received the thirty-second degree. In the capital city of the state he also holds membership in the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. His York Rite affiliations are with the organizations in Valparaiso and are here briefly noted: Blue Lodge, No. 137, Free & Accepted Masons; Valparaiso Chapter, No. 79, Royal Arch Masons; Valparaiso Council, No. 86, Royal & Select Masters; Valparaiso Commandery, No. 28, Knights Templars; and Valparaiso Chapter, No. 64, Order of the Eastern Star. Mrs. Summer, who died in 1910, was one of the most influential members of the Order of the Eastern Star in Indiana and her popularity in the same was well attested when she was elected grand matron of the state organization, a position which is the highest in the gift of the order in Indiana and one in which she gave a most admirable administration; she was also a zealous and devoted member of the Presbyterian church, and was one of the loved and honored factors in the representative social activities of her home city, the while her activities in the Order of the Eastern Star gained to her a wide circle of friends throughout the state. Mr. Summer is also a member of Valparaiso Lodge, No. 500, Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks.

On the 17th of January, 1886, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Summer to Miss Pauline Flake, who was born near Port Colborne, province of Ontario, Canada, and who was but two years of age at the time of the family removal to Valparaiso, Indiana, where she was reared and educated and where she passed the residue of her gracious and noble life, which came to its close on the 6th of September, 1910, her death being a personal bereavement to all who had come within the more intimate compass of her gentle and considerate influence. She is survived by one son and two daughters, all of whom remain at the paternal home, namely: Carroll, Edna and Verna. George Flake, the father of Mrs. Summer, was engaged in the shoe business in Valparaiso for a period of about forty years and both he and his wife continued to reside in this city until their death.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 714-720

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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