In the spring of 1748, three siblings, Heinrich, Johannes and Susannah, left their home in the small village of Sommerau in central Germany for the British colony of Pennsylvania. There, they became Henry, John and Susan Summerour. Their descendants, who spread south to North Carolina and then North Georgia, have been prominent citizens of the Norcross area for many years.
Harrison Summerour, the great-grandson of the first Henry Summerour, moved with his father to North Georgia in the late 1820s. They established a grocery store to serve the miners who rushed into the area after gold was discovered near Dahlonega. In the 1840s, Harrison staked his two younger brothers for a trip to the newly-discovered gold fields of California, and the three brothers split the proceeds of their gold discoveries evenly among them.
Harrison Summerour and his family moved to a 900-acre farm along the Chattahoochee River in the community of Warsaw, just across the river from Norcross. Their youngest son, Homer Hightower Summerour, grew restless on the family farm. On his 21st birthday, he left for his own trip to the West. He made it as far as Vernon, Texas, northwest of Dallas, before his money, and the railroad (being built at the time from Fort Worth to Denver) ran out.
Homer became a cowboy. His brothers Charles W., Jeff Davis and Tom Ed moved to Texas to join him; all but Jeff Davis Summerour eventually moved back to Georgia. According to family lore, one of Homer’s main reasons for coming back to Georgia was so he could marry a local girl, Susan Elizabeth Mitcham. They had four children — sons Ben, Jeff and Joe — and daughter Mary.
Homer was a tinkerer and inventor, and one of his accomplishments was developing a strain of cotton called “Half and Half” that gave a significant advance in fiber yield compared to other varieties of seed. Cotton was a major cash crop in the South in those days, and
Homer became well-known for this high-yield seed. Homer’s son Ben carried on the seed business and ran a cotton ginning operation in Norcross for many years. Ben built the home that stands today at the corner of North Peachtree Street and Sunset Drive. Ben was a Georgia Tech graduate and served on the Norcross City Council and as Chairman of the Gwinnett County Red Cross during World War II. When he retired, he sold the family farm to the Atlanta Athletic Club; their golf facility is located there today.