Welcome to the Sumner Township homepage!
Introducing Michigan’s new Voter Information Center (MVIC):
The new Michigan Voter Information Center website is now up and running!
It provides residents with information regarding their voter registration
status, upcoming elections, clerk information and how to use the voting
equipment chosen by their county.
Click Here to visit the site!
Dates to Remember:
Sumner Township Board Meeting: 2nd Thursday of each month in the Sumner
Community Center Township Office.
Recycle operations have changed. Recycling is now available when it is convientent for you. Weekends or weekdays, the bin will be available to drop your recycle when you wish. There will be no attending supervisor, so please be responsible and sort your items properly. There is a barrel available for plastic grocery bags as they are not allowed in the bin until it is full.
Sumner Township Clean Up Day: 3rd Saturday in May and September at the
Recycle Barn from 7:30 AM until 11:30 AM.
Sumner Daze Festival: 3rd Week-end in August at the Sumner Community
Center and Sumner Centennial Park.
EARLY SUMNER HISTORY:
The first settlers in Sumner Township arrived in the fall of 1854, lumbering
provided their main sourse of livelihood. Among the first settlers was
George S. Bell, coming from Ohio. He secured 400 acres of land, a saw
mill and store soon appeared on the scene, and the site took the name
In 1868, the village was laid out and dedicated by George and William
Stratton, and given the name of "Estella" on September 4 of
that year. The post office was established in 1869, and again the towns
underwent another name change --this time "Sumner"--. Prior
to this, the nearest postal facility was some 23 miles away in Ionia County,
a two-day trip through the woods.
Sumner's first school was a one-story log structure built in about 1855,
a half-mile north on Ferris Road. Several school buildings followed and
were destroyed by fire; the new structure, now the Community Center, was
built in 1949.
One of the most familiar landmarks in the early days was the Sumner Hotel.
James Hicks built the hotel at the corner of Main street and Ferris Road
in 1863, serving the lumbering people and travelers through the area.
There was an immaculate dining room, serving home-cooked meals, a spacious
parlor and large ballroom, as well as sleeping rooms. A saloon was built
on one end of the building in 1904, but was a point of contention among
local residents because of its closeness to the school. A large wooden
fence was constructed by Bill Robinson to solve that problem. This property
passed through many hands over the years, and after 1910 it served as
a dwelling to many families, and was vacant when fire took over in 1924.
The corner site of the Cleverdon Store was occupied by that family from
1872 until it was sold to Harold Gunderman in 1956. Mr. Gunderman operated
a hardware for a time, and today it is a private dwelling.
In April 1938, two of the principal business places were completely destroyed
by fire; stores owned by Mrs. Bernice Jones and Sumner Hoxie, both located
next to each other. Mr. Hoxie never rebuilt, but Mrs. Jones had a new
building under construction within two weeks, and opened for business
again in the summer.
MORE ABOUT SUMNER. . . .
Sumner's only doctor, Dr. Frederick Graham, arrived in 1891 and took
care of the town's needs until 1917 when he went to Alma, serving that
area until 1940. At that time he turned his practice over to his son,
Dr. Bernard J. Graham. It is known that a Dr. Marvin and Dr. Dayton also
served the people earlier than that time, however, details are sketchy.
Four churches served the Sumner Township area in earlier years, and three
reamin today. The Sumner Center Church of the Nazarene on Warner Road.
The United Methodist Church on Lincoln Road, and the Sumner New Hope Tabernacle
on Cedar Street in Sumner. These churches remain active in the community
Logs and lumbering being the mainstay of Sumner's early heritage, Joseph
Fitzpatrick owned and operated a saw mill until 1948, a block off the
main street. Logs were brought in by truck, and lumber sold to various
places including Lobdell-Emery in Alma, when they were in the furniture
Other pioneer businesses included several hardware stores, a wagon shop,
saloons, the Forquer General Store, operated by Reason Forquer who had
been a resident since 1873, and later by Arthur and Mabel Forquer. There
were also harness shops, a millineray store, cobbler shop, meat market,
and others throughout the early years.
Due to the lack of refrigeration, the meat market operated only in winter
months, but later an enterprising butcher shop owner in neightboring Crystal
made two trips each week during the summer months furnishing fresh meats
for the village, and later opened a business in Sumner. His name was Harve
Sperry, and at the onset of his business had cooolers to preserve the
meat year around.
A photography studio, operated by Ralph Holcomb, was another of the early
businesses, as well as blacksmith shops; and upon the arrival of that
new contraption, the automobile, a garage to service these new-found machines
became a part of Sumner's business ventures.
SINCE 1968. . . (Our Centennial Year)
After the 100th year celebration, the Centennial Committee was instrumental
in purchasing land between the Pine River, west of Sumner and the race,
which ran north along the present Ferris Road. This area was developed
as the Sumner Centennial Park, and is the site of many reunions, get togethers,
etc., each year, as well as a haven for fishermen on the banks of the
Pine River. Sumner Township also purchased the Elm Hall Park in Elm Hall
in 2002 and has added some new playground equipment to be enjoyed.
In 1971, Willard Wilson bought his present store from Gretta Smith, and
continues to operate it as a family business.
The years of 1980-1981 marked the last school year in the town after more
than 120 years. All grades were then annexed to the Ithaca Schools. The
children in Sumner Township go to school at either Alma Public Schools
or Ithaca Public Schools. In 1983, the school property was purchased by
Sumner Township as their headquarters and is known today as the Sumner
Township Community Center on Pine Street in Sumner. The building and grounds
are used for many events.
Today Sumner Township has a population of aproximately 2000 people. The
primary industry is farming, with many family owned farm's, raising corn,
hay, wheat, beans etc.
There are also many privately owned small business thoughout the township.
The children ride the bus to Alma Public Schools or Ithaca Public Schools.
The Village of Sumner has a modern up-to-date grocery store "Wilson's
Grocery" were you can buy just about anything you need including
gas, it also has the Sumner Post Office with a zip code of 48889 and the
Sumner Township Community Center which can be rented for many events.
The Village of Elm Hall is known for having the smallest post office in
the United States with a zip code of 48830. It also has an up-to-date
party store called "The Store" were you can also purchase gas.