The Town of Pomaria in Newberry County may have fewer than 200 residents, but it has a surprisingly rich history. Initially called Countsville, Pomaria was established in the mid-eighteenth century by German, Swiss, and Dutch settlers striving to escape the persecution and poverty that followed the Thirty Years’ War. These settlers brought with them a strong religious heritage, and in 1830 the South Carolina Lutheran Synod chose to open a seminary here which later evolved into Newberry College.
By 1840 town had changed its name to Pomaria, the same year William Summer opened his renowned Pomaria Nursery at the site of his home, the Summers-Huggins House pictured below. The root of the town’s name – pomology – is the study of fruit cultivation. Summer’s extensive knowledge in this realm, particularly in cultivating new varieties of fruits, made Pomaria a distinguished agricultural district. By 1851 the Newberry to Columbia Railway had been completed, which included a stop in Pomaria. The little town was booming.
In 1865, at the end of the Civil War, Union troops ravaged most of South Carolina – Pomaria included. The railroad was destroyed, and the nursery went bankrupt. Summers attempted to rebuild his business and offered a catalog with 338 varieties in 1878. He died shortly afterwards, and his family members closed the nursery for good.
The town suffered great difficulties during and after Reconstruction, as did most of the South. In the early twentieth century, Pomaria was designated a site for a Rosenwald school. Rosenwald schools were built throughout the rural south to educate African-American children living in poverty. Funding for these schools was provided by Sears and Roebuck president Julius Rosenwald, and the schools were named in his honor. The Hope Rosenwald School (seen below) was built in 1925 and operated until 1954, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that a separate-but-equal educational system – under which the Hope School operated – was unlawful.