The Summerdale area was settled in the early 1850's by several families of Scotch and Irish descent. By 1900, the town had a church, a saw mill, a turpentine business, and a hotel. Many families of different nationalities moved here, building homes, and clearing timberland for farming. The first train came to town on May 11, 1905 and crops could then be shipped great distances by rail. The town began to grow and construction of another hotel, a canning factory, a general merchandise store, and a post office soon followed. The town's agriculture flourished with crops of cotton, potatoes, peanuts, and tobacco. Many of the original farms are still in production. A three-story Tobacco Barn, standing today, was built around 1909 to store the high quality leaves for making cigars. By 1928, Summerdale became known as the Sunshine Town of Baldwin Countyand through the years it has kept this image.
Summerdale's Turpentine Still
In 1860, Robert Baker and Stephen Potts purchased 12,000 acres of land in Baldwin County that would become Magnolia Springs, Silverhill, Robertsdale, Surmmerdale, and Marlow. They began a turpentine manufacturing business. Because of the value of turpentine for heat, medicinal uses, and for sealing the hulls of ships, it was important
to this area. During the midst of the War Between the States, workers dug deep trenches to save the rosin from the turpentine still in case the approaching Yankees set fire to the surrounding woods. The stored rosin was not discovered and several years after the war, it was dug up and sent to other local turpentine manufacturers. The location of these trenches and the turpentine still was in the vicinity of the Old Dixie Road, now County Road 32, which was built by Confederate soldiers.