The Village of Summit is a rural community in the Lake Country area of Waukesha County, about 30 miles west of Milwaukee. It is bordered by the cities of Oconomowoc and Delafield, the villages of Oconomowoc Lake and Dousman, and the towns of Ottawa, Delafield, and Oconomowoc. A town for most of its history, the Village of Summit was incorporated in 2010.
Before European settlers arrived in the 1830s, the Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi Native American tribes lived in the Summit area. Effigy mounds in the town predate both of these groups. As was common, several of Summit’s main roads were adapted from Indian trails. The first white settlers arrived in Summit in 1837, and early settlements included the hamlets of Summit Corners and Summit Centre. A stagecoach stop on the road from Milwaukee to Madison brought business to Summit Centre. But when the plank road and then the railroad bypassed Summit in favor of Oconomowoc, the town’s isolation kept it rural. An 1852 tornado that destroyed both settlements sped this process.
By the twentieth century, Summit gained prominence for its agriculture. The dairy industry became Summit’s most important business. The county’s first two cheese factories opened in Summit in the 1870s. In 1906, Frederick Pabst, son of the brewery founder, bought a farm in Summit. Pabst Farms, which occupied more than 1,400 acres, won international acclaim for its prize-winning horses and pedigreed Holsteins. Conceived as a self-sustaining model farm, Pabst Farms successfully continued its dairy enterprise into the 1960s. In 1963, the completion of Interstate 94 divided the Pabst Farms property. Although Pabst Farms continued to raise crops, it ended its dairy business. As suburbanization increased, farming steadily decreased in Summit. No dairy farms remain in the Village, although it does contain other agricultural operations.
As farming declined in the region, the future of Pabst Farms helped Summit to solidify its borders and incorporate as a village. Since 1965, Summit faced annexation attempts from surrounding municipalities. In the 1990s, the City of Oconomowoc sought to annex the Pabst Farms land for new development. Objecting to the annexation, Summit took Oconomowoc to court in 1995. Although Summit lost this case, the Town secured boundary agreements with its neighbors between 2000 and 2009. These agreements paved the way for incorporation in 2010, with a population of 4,674.
Summit is home to many lakes and wetland areas. The Village contains sixteen of Lake Country’s named lakes. The lakes are significant landmarks in Summit, and village residents speak of their neighborhoods in terms of nearby lakes. The eastern portions of Summit, especially the Nemahbin Lakes region, are the Village’s most densely populated areas. Many Summit residents live on smaller, lakefront lots, while those not living on a lake generally have larger, rural acreage. Properties that once hosted summer cabins are increasingly being fitted with year-round homes. Western Summit is predominantly wetland.
- ^ Barb Barquist, The Summit of Oconomowoc: 150 Years of Summit Town (Oconomowoc, WI: Summit History Group, 1987).
- ^ Milton J. Bates, The Bark River Chronicles: Stories from a Wisconsin Watershed (Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2012), 116; Amy Rinard, “Developer Must Repair, Protect Indian Mounds,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 17, 2008, http://www.jsonline.com/news/waukesha/29574614.html.
- ^ Barquist, The Summit of Oconomowoc.
- ^ Barquist, The Summit of Oconomowoc, 36.
- ^ Barquist, The Summit of Oconomowoc, 40.
- ^ Village of Summit, Master Plan 2020 [draft for July 7, 2011] ([Summit, WI]: Village of Summit, 2011), 2, last accessed August 4, 2017; Barquist, The Summit of Oconomowoc, 26-27.
- ^ Village of Summit, Master Plan 2020, 2.
- ^ Theron W. Haight, ed., Memoirs of Waukesha County from the Earliest Historical Times down to the Present with Special Chapters on Various Subjects, Including Each of the Different Towns, and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Representative Families in ihe County, Prepared from Data Obtained from Original Sources of Information (Madison, WI: Western Historical Association, 1907), Archives Unbound, accessed December 15, 2015, 335, http://0-go.galegroup.com.countycat.mcfls.org/gdsc/i.do?&id=GALE%7CSC5104306160&v=2.1&u=milw97470&it=r&p=GDSC&sw=w&viewtype=Transcript.
- ^ The History of Waukesha County, Wisconsin, Containing an Account of Its Settlement, Growth, Development and Resources; An Extensive and Minute Sketch of Its Cities, Towns and Village—Their Improvements, Industries, Manufactories, Churches, Schools and Societies; Its War Record, Biographical Sketches, Portraits of Prominent Men and Early Settlers; The Whole Preceded by a History of Wisconsin, Statistics of the State, and an Abstract of Its Laws and Constitution and of the Constitution of the United States (Chicago, IL: Western Historical Company, 1880), Archives Unbound, accessed December 16, 2015, 2015, 509, http://0-go.galegroup.com.countycat.mcfls.org/gdsc/i.do?&id=GALE%7CSC5104261732&v=2.1&u=milw97470&it=r&p=GDSC&sw=w&viewtype=Transcript.
- ^ Village of Summit, Master Plan 2020, 4.
- ^ Jean Lindsay Johnson, When Midwest Millionaires Lived like Kings (Milwaukee: Jean Lindsay Johnson, 1981), 245-246; John C. Eastberg, Pabst Farms: The History of a Model Farm (Milwaukee: Pabst Farms, Inc., 2014), 81.
- ^ Eastberg, Pabst Farms, 33.
- ^ Jon Oncken, “The Glory Days of Pabst Farm Holsteins,” Wisconsin State Farmer, January 31, 2013, http://www.wisfarmer.com/features/the-glory-days-of-pabst-farm-holsteins—–jcpg-312311-189216141.html.
- ^ Village of Summit, Master Plan 2020, Appendix 37.
- ^ Village of Summit, Master Plan 2020, 4.
- ^ “Oconomowoc to Annex Most of Pabst Farms,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 1, 1998, https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=V3AaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=di4EAAAAIBAJ&pg=3065%2C1322230.
- ^ Village of Summit, Master Plan 2020, Appendix 4.
- ^ 2010 Census, “General Population and Housing Characteristics, Summit town, Waukesha County, Wisconsin.” (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010), accessed December 16, 2015.
- ^ Village of Summit, Master Plan 2020, Appendix 2.
- ^ Wisconsin Department of Administration, “Determination of the Incorporation Review Board in Re: The Incorporation of the Town of Summit, Waukesha County, Wisconsin as a Village” (Case No. 08-CV-3145, Madison, WI, March 30, 2010), 18.
- ^ Wisconsin Department of Administration, “Determination of the Incorporation Review Board in Re: The Incorporation of the Town of Summit, Waukesha County, Wisconsin as a Village,” 25.
- ^ Wisconsin Department of Administration, “Determination of the Incorporation Review Board in Re: The Incorporation of the Town of Summit, Waukesha County, Wisconsin as a Village,” 21.
For Further Reading
Barquist, Barb. The Summit of Oconomowoc: 150 Years of Summit Town. Oconomowoc, WI: Summit History Group, 1987.
Eastberg, John C. Pabst Farms: The History of a Model Farm. Milwaukee: Pabst Farms, Inc., 2014.