Adam Geiselhard Summer (1818–1866)
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275 Adam Geiselhard Summer (1818–1866) Journalist, planter, lawyer, naturalist, horticulturist, state printer, legislator, humorist, and publisher of antebellum humorous writers,Adam G. Summer was born in the Dutch Fork section in central South Carolina on the family plantation in Pomaria. He was the principal promoter of the Dutch Fork School of amateur humorists, including his kinsman and longtime friend Dr. Orlando Benedict Mayer and others who were also his friends and neighbors. The Dutch Fork had been settled in the mid-eighteenth century by German and Swiss Protestants , and when Summer was growing up there the German language, customs, and folklore were widely prevalent. Between 1845 and 1848, Summer edited the Columbia South Carolinian, a weekly agricultural paper, except during legislative sessions when it was issued semi-weekly. Along with agricultural news and political events in the state legislature , the South Carolinian also regularly published backwoods humor during Summer’s tenure as editor. Aptly acclaimed by James E. Kibler, Jr., as a “kind of Southern William Trotter Porter,” Summer published not only sketches and tales of some of the well-known southern humorists of the 1840s—Hooper, Thompson , Thorpe, George Washington Harris, Sol Smith, Joseph Field, and John S. Robb—but also those of local humorists such as Mayer and others from Upcountry South Carolina who wrote under pseudonymous bylines but who have not been identified—“Pea Ridger,”“Nat Slocum,”“Phil Gilder,”“Some Punkins,” and “Capting Luke Snuzeby.” Several of these humorists also published in Porter ’s Spirit of the Times. Summer, too, under the pseudonym Vesper Brackett, contributed to the South Carolinian both backwoods humorous tales, such as “Natural Angling, or Riding a Sturgeon,” which appeared there on May 8, 1845, and sentimental autobiographical tales such as “Winter Green, A Tale of My School Master,” which was published on February 18, 1848. “Natural Angling” was reprinted in the Spirit on May 24, 1845, and “The Vegetable Shirt-Tail; or, An Excuse for Backing Out” appeared originally in the Spirit on September 5, 1846. 276 Southern Frontier Humor At the age of thirty, Summer left Columbia, giving up the editorship of the South Carolinian to return to Ravenscroft, his plantation in Lexington County, where he pursued his interests in ornamental plants and gardening, livestock and breeding, and agricultural chemistry. With his brother William he founded the State Agricultural Society. He and his brother also established Pomaria Nurseries , one of the first major nurseries in the lower South. Summer’s agricultural interests led him back to journalism; from 1853 to 1856, he edited the Southern Agriculturalist and the South Carolina Agriculturalist. Along with his many other pursuits, in 1850 Summer served in the South Carolina Legislature. A man of many talents, Adam G. Summer was the major impetus in promoting the humorous writing of the South Carolina Dutch Fork. In describing Summer , fellow humorist O. B. Mayer called him a “rustic humorist who could hold his own with the roughest joker.” Text:“Natural Angling, or Riding a Sturgeon,” Columbia South Carolinian May 8, 1845. Natural Angling, or Riding a Sturgeon Fishing is not the same wild and exciting sport it was, when our rivers were untamed,and instead of the subdued and present worn appearance,their banks were pictures of nature in her most romantic and captivating garb; and when the chief charms of divine divertissement consisted of the break-neck adventures and real peril of the pursuit. Now-a-days, woe to them! anglers must fish with quaint bait, recommended by that venerable piscatorial saint, great Izaak; and though they submit to the modern innovation of a generous Limerick hook—the remainder of the tackle must be arranged by the book—and taciturn demeanor is always to be observed, even though they angle under a Niagara ; for the sage hath said, that silence in the fisherman is conducive to great success. This fastidiousness has, in my opinion, driven the most princely fish from our waters; at least, I can in no wise, account for their disappearance, unless these patent draw our Conroy’s, with their thousand yards of gossamer gut, have caused the surprising immigration. Where now can we snare the vigorous rock-fish, or the tasty and gentlemanly trout of a dozen pounds weight?—All gone! and it has really come to pass, that fifty pounds of small-fry, taken in one ramble at some breeding place, is a capture astonishing to boys, and talked of for a week at least. Belton Tinkerbottom was the last fisherman...


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