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Sumter, South Carolina
—  City  —
Downtown Sumter
Nickname(s): Gamecock City, Merk City
Location of Sumter in
South Carolina
Coordinates: 33°55′37″N 80°21′49″W / 33.92694°N 80.36361°W / 33.92694; -80.36361Coordinates: 33°55′37″N 80°21′49″W / 33.92694°N 80.36361°W / 33.92694; -80.36361
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Sumter
Incorporated 1845
 - Mayor Joseph T. McElveen, Jr.
 - City manager Deron McCormick
 - Total 26.7 sq mi (53.0 km2)
 - Land 26.6 sq mi (50.8 km2)
 - Water 0.2 sq mi (4.2 km2)
Elevation 171 ft (52 m)
Population (2008)
 - Total 59,159
 Density 1,545.2/sq mi (596.6/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 803
FIPS code 45-70405[1]
GNIS feature ID 1251074[2]
Website Sumter official website

Sumter (pronounced /ˈsʌmtər/) is a city in and the county seat of Sumter County[3], South Carolina, United States. Its population was 59,159 at the 2000 census. It is the principal city of the Sumter, South Carolina Metropolitan Statistical Area.



Known as the Gamecock City, Sumter lies near the geographic center of the state of South Carolina. Sumter offers a highly diversified industrial structure and is famed for its lovely gardens and charming residential neighborhoods. Part of the well-known Santee-Cooper Lakes region, Sumter is renowned for hunting, fishing, water sports and golf. Located between two great vacation centers, Sumter is 100 miles west of Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand and 175 miles east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Columbia, the state capital, lies 44 miles to the west, and the major port city of Charleston is 99 miles south. Sumter is proud to be the home of Shaw Air Force Base, which is an integral part of our community.

Sumter is located at 33°55′37″N 80°21′49″W / 33.92694°N 80.36361°W / 33.92694; -80.36361 (33.926942, -80.363541)[4].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.8 square miles (69.3 km²), of which, 26.6 square miles (68.9 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (0.60%) is water.

Sumter is located approximately 40 miles east of Columbia, the capital of South Carolina.


As of 2007, there were 59,159 people, 34,717 households, and 40,049 families living in the city. The population density was 4,469.5 people per square mile (775.6/km²). There were 46,032 housing units at an average density of 603.0/sq mi (232.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 44.74% Caucasian, 29.88% African American, 1.24% Native American, 14.62% Asian, 1.07% Pacific Islander, 1.12% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.98% of the population.[5]

There were 34,717 households out of which 75% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.0% were married couples living together, 19.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.0% were non-families. 17.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 1.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the city the population was spread out with 37.6% under the age of 18, 12.28% from 18 to 24, 26.04% from 25 to 44, 19.55% from 45 to 64, and 14.12% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.3 years. For every 100 females there were 89.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $19,264, and the median income for a family was $35,328. Males had a median income of $27,078 versus $22,002 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,949. About 13.0% of families and 16.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.8% of those under age 18 and 15.3% of those age 65 or over.


The following table shows Sumter's crime rate in 6 crimes that Morgan Quitno uses for their calculation for "America's most dangerous cities" ranking, in comparison to the national average. The statistics provided are not for the actual number of crimes committed, but how many crimes committed Per Capita.[6]

Crime Sumter, SC (2006) National Average
Murder 9.9 6.9
Rape 34.7 32.2
Robbery 215.9 195.4
Assault 1059.7 340.1
Burglary 1228.4 814.5
Automobile Theft 282.9 526.5

According to the Congressional Quarterly Press '2008 City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America, Sumter Statistical Metropolitan Area ranks as having the 5th highest overall crime rate out of 338 statistical metropolitan area's in the United States of America. It has become known as MERK CITY due to its high crime rate. [7][8]


Sumter was incorporated in 1857 as Sumterville, and the name was shortened to Sumter in 1855. The city is named after General Thomas Sumter, who was known as the "Fighting Gamecock", who commanded troops in the American Revolutionary War and served in the United States Congress.

During the Revolution, Sumter fought in numerous skirmishes and battles, including the Battle of Sullivan's Island, the Georgia Campaign, Turnbull's camp, Hanging Rock and Fish Darn Ford. His fierce revolutionary zeal had its origins in an incident involving a Captain Campbell, whose men plundered his home, placed his invalid wife in her wheelchair on the lawn and then set fire to the house. This event so enraged Sumter that he formed and led a band of guerillas in victorious combat against the British, helping to turn the tide in the war for independence.

Following the war, General Sumter continued in the service of the young nation, ultimately as a member of the United States Congress. He retired at age 76 to his beloved "Home House" in the High Hills of the Santee, where he continued to actively manage his business affairs and remained a respected figure in the Statesburg community until his death in 1832 at age 98, the last surviving general of the Revolutionary War. General Sumter is buried in Statesburg, the adoptive hometown to which he gave so much.

In 1912, the city of Sumter became the first city in the United States to successfully adopt the council-manager form of government. It is still in effect today. Sumter's council-manager government combines the political leadership of elected officials in the form of a seven-member City Council headed by the Mayor, with the strong managerial experience of an appointed City Manager, who serves as the chief administrative and executive officer of the city.[9]

Sumter started as a plantation settlement town, and grew over the years to be more industrialized. Today, industry in Sumter is mostly manufacturing, military, and medical related.

Statue of Thomas Sumter on the courthouse lawn in Sumter


Sumter County Courthouse, Sumter, South Carolina

Sumter is served by a six-member city council, whose members are elected to represent a ward. A city manager is employed by council to run the day-to-day business of the city, and serves at the pleasure of council. Sumter has the distinction of being the first city in the United States to successfully implement this form of government, known as council-manager government. A mayor is elected at-large to a four year (renewable) term, and may vote with council only in the event of a tie vote.


Sumter is home to two districts, Seventeen and Two, which serve all of Sumter County, and a few communities situated within the tri-county area.

Sumter School District Two

Sumter School District Two was formed on January 1, 1952, by consolidating 25 school districts in rural Sumter County and one district in Clarendon County. The district was named Sumter School District 2 because it was the second independent school district formed in the county.In 1952, the district was composed of 66 small schools and more than 8,000 students. Shortly after consolidation, the district began building new schools, closing older schools, and integrating the racially segregated public schools in the county. The district now consists of 15 schools including nine elementary, four middle, and two high schools. There is also an alternative program. In 1996, the district consolidated three high schools into two new ones, Crestwood and Lakewood High Schools. Approximately 9,400 students are now enrolled in Sumter School District Two. Six of the district’s original 66 schools still operate under the same name, although location and grade levels served have changed for many of them. The names Ebenezer, High Hills, Hillcrest, Mayewood, Rafting Creek, and Shaw Heights were with the district from the beginning and are still used today. Prior to consolidation, district leadership included a county superintendent and a county board of education that oversaw the operation of 25 sets of trustees in the 25 small school districts. Currently, the district is governed by one superintendent and a seven-member elected Board of Trustees. Board members represent single member districts across Sumter County. Shaw Air Force Base, established within the boundaries of District Two in 1940, appoints an eighth, non-voting member to the board. Dr. Hugh Stoddard served as the first superintendent of Sumter School District 2. He was followed by William Mitchell and Dr. Donald Crolley, who served from 1983 until 1988. Dr. Elijah McCants served as superintendent until 1991. He was followed by the district’s fifth superintendent, Dr. Joseph Lefft. The current superintendent is Dr. J. Frank Baker, who began his tenure in 1992. At the time of the district’s formation, high school curriculum was primarily college preparatory. Courses in home economics, agriculture, English, social studies, general science, biology, arithmetic, algebra, plane geometry and some trigonometry were available. Latin and French were offered at a few schools. There was no supervised physical education program at any school within the district, with the exception of an interscholastic athletic program and some playground activity. Music and art were not included as a formal part of the curriculum, but several schools had private instructors that came into the buildings to teach private piano lessons. One of the long-range objectives established in the early days of Sumter School District 2 was the elimination of multiple grade classes under one teacher. In 1956, just four years after the district was established, only 19 multiple grade classrooms remained, compared to 128 in 1952. It was not until 1956 that all high schools within the district’s attendance zone contained libraries. Physical education classes began on the high school level in 1957, as well as instruction in instrumental work and band. Choral and glee club music was encouraged beginning in 1956. Today, students have a wide range of educational opportunities. All elementary children receive advanced training in technology in addition to fundamental instruction in reading, science, social studies, language arts, health and physical education. The district’s two high schools now operate on a 4X4 block schedule that gives students the opportunity to earn more credits while in high school, further preparing them for college or the technical field. High school students have the opportunity to take advanced courses in English, math, history, science, and foreign language. College level courses are also available to qualified students through University of South Carolina and Central Carolina Technical College. Students at all grade levels can also take advantage of a wide range of extracurricular activities that enhance their learning environment.All schools in Sumter School District Two are accredited through both the SC State Department of Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Full accreditation assures minimum standards for class size, qualification of teachers, libraries, instructional materials, school facilities, and curriculum have been met.

Sumter School District 17

Sumter School District 17, geographically the smallest school district in South Carolina, is located in areas within and immediately surrounding the city of Sumter. Nationally known for excellence, our schools have received numerous prestigious recognitions, including three National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence and the What Parents Want Award from SchoolMatch, an Ohiobased consulting firm. The district enrolls more than 8,600 students in grades preschool through 12 and employs over 1,500 staff members. Sumter School District 17 includes seven elementary schools, three middle schools, one high school, an alternative learning center, and the Early Head Start program. The only high school in the district, Sumter High School’s academic, choral, band and athletic programs are second to none in the state. These outstanding programs have enabled the school to win numerous awards including being selected as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, a Model High School for South Carolina, a Grammy Signature School, and an International Baccalaureate site. In addition, the district offers choice opportunities, which include the Magnet School for the Fine Arts and Technology, the Science Connections Magnet School, the Sixth Grade Oaks Academy, the School for Inquiry, and the IB Middle Years Programme. All of the district’s schools are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and by the South Carolina Department of Education. Sumter School District 17 remains committed to its mission of providing an education of high quality to every student by providing challenging, innovative learning experiences in a safe, supportive and culturally diverse environment.

Sumter School District 17 is home to the 5th largest school in the state, Sumter High School, whose current student population is approximately 2,431.[10] SHS is currently operated by the second-smallest school district in the state (Sumter District 17). The current building has been in use since 1983 and has undergone additions in 1987 and 2003; the 2003 additions opened to students in fall 2005 for the Class of 2006. Current feeder middle schools to Sumter High are Chestnut Oaks Middle, Alice Drive Middle and Bates Middle Schools. The SHS mascot is the Gamecock, a reference to the city and county's namesake, General Thomas Sumter. The school colors are royal blue and gold.

In the old Sumter Prison Building, In 1 AD it was named Edmunds High School in memory of Superintendent Samuel Henry Edmunds. The colors were purple and white. This color combination represented the merging of the two Junior High schools; McLaurin Junior High whose colors were red and white, and Alice Drive Middle with colors blue and white. In 1971, the name was again changed to Sumter High School and the colors became the current blue and gold.

In 2007, the Sumter High School Marching Band performed in the New York City Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

In the 08-09 year, SHS'S football team made it to the 4A Division I State Championships against James F. Byrnes High School, where it was held at Clemson University.

SHS's current principal is Rutledge Dingle.


Higher education

The area is served by Morris College, a private four-year liberal arts college, Central Carolina Technical College, a public two-year technical college, and the University of South Carolina Sumter. Saint Leo University, Troy University, and Webster University all offer course and degree programs at Shaw Air Force Base.

Shaw Air Force Base

Sumter is home to Shaw Air Force Base, headquarters of the 9th Air Force and the 20th Fighter Wing. Since World War II it has been one of the major sources of employment in the area. Shaw's fighter planes mainly consist of F-16 Fighting Falcons, which are versatile multi-role fighters. F-16's dispatched from Shaw were the primary fighters used in the Gulf War. In response to the city's service, President George H. W. Bush came to Sumter to express his gratitude. The base was named in honor of 1st Lieutenant Ervin David Shaw, one of the first Americans to fly combat missions in World War I. Shaw, a Sumter County native, died after three enemy aircraft attacked his Bristol F.2 Fighter while he was returning from a reconnaissance mission.

Swan Lake/Iris Gardens

Swan Lake/Iris Gardens is the only public park in the United States with all eight species of swans. The City of Sumter hosts the "Iris Festival" which is centered around Swan Lake/Iris Gardens in May and is open to the public. Traditionally, the festival is held Memorial Day weekend. The park is also the host during the holiday season to the "Swan Lake Fantasy of Lights", the largest free Christmas light display in South Carolina, with nearly 2 million lights.


Riley Park is a 4,000 seat stadium that is primarily used for baseball and was the home of Sumter Braves, a Single A Atlanta Braves affiliate that competed in the South Atlantic League. Riley Park was home to the Sumter Braves from 1985 until 1990, when the team left Sumter for Macon, Georgia. Notable Sumter Braves that went on to Major League success include Tom Glavine, David Justice, Kevin Brown (right-handed pitcher), Mark Wohlers, Ryan Klesko, and Vinny Castilla.[12] The Braves were replaced by the Sumter Flyers in 1991, a Single A Montreal Expos affiliate. The Flyers, however, left Sumter after one season.[13] No professional baseball team has competed in Sumter since the end of the 1991 season.

Riley continues to be the home of the P-15s, an American Legion baseball team with a long history of success. The P-15's have won 14 state titles including 1940, 1950, 1952, 1962, 1977, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009.[14] They advanced to the 2006 American Legion World Series in Cedar Rapids, IA where they finished 4th nationally. The P-15's made a return trip to the American Legion World Series hosted by Shelby, NC in 2008 and 2009. Palmetto Tennis Center is a new state of the art tennis court in Palmetto Park. The tennis center has 18 official size tennis courts. The Palmetto Tennis Center host the college level tournaments each year.[15] Sumter Memorial Stadium is home to Sumter High School's Fighting Gamecocks. Sumter School District 2 Memorial Stadium is home to the Crestwood High School Armored Knights. J. Frank Baker Stadium is home to the Lakewood High School Gators

Palmetto Tennis Center is a National Tennis Court in Palmetto Park in Sumter, South Carolina. It is the largest tennis center in the state. They have 18 lit hard courts as well as 6 Deco-Turf courts. They host several tournaments every year both junior and adult. PTC is also the host of the Palmetto Pro Open a women's 10K event on the USTA Pro Circuit.

Notable people from Sumter

  • Ray Allen, professional basketball player, is from Dalzell, in Sumter County, where his children still reside.
  • Lee Brice, country music singer-songwriter
  • Ryan Buell, Founder of Penn State Paranormal Research Society. Has a reality series on A&E called Paranormal State.
  • Virginia Capers, Tony Award-winning actress
  • Pete Chilcutt, played basketball for the University of North Carolina and then the NBA from 1991 to 2000.
  • Jim Clyburn, politician, currently a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and House Majority Whip for the 110th Congress
  • Rob Crosby, country music artist
  • Ray Davis ("Stingray") was a founding member of The Parliaments, Parliament and Funkadelic
  • George Edward "Tuck" Haynesworth, born and raised in Sumter, The Citadel cadet credited with firing the first hostile shot of the American Civil War. He pulled the lanyard that fired the cannon at the "Star of the West", an unarmed commercial steamer, as it entered Charleston Harbor for Fort Sumter on January 9, 1861.[16][17]
  • Wallie Jones, South Carolina Hall of Fame baseball coach.
  • Clara Louise Kellogg, famous opera singer
  • Terry Kinard, a first round draft pick of the New York Giants, played in the 1986 Super Bowl and had an 8 year NFL career
  • Major General George L. Mabry, Jr., Medal of Honor recipient and second most decorated soldier of World War II
  • Tony Oxendine, noted square dance caller.
  • Bill Pinkney of the Drifters was born in Dalzell, Sumter County
  • Cleveland Pinkney, professional football player, played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Carolina Panthers and the Detroit Lions.
  • Bobby Richardson, of the New York Yankees still resides in Sumter
  • Wally Richardson, former starting quarterback for Penn State
  • Freddie Solomon, National Football League wide receiver, formerly of the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers
  • Robert Talon, contestant on The Price is Right, The Family Feud and the first contestant to win the top prize of $500,000 on the NBC game show, Identity
  • Angelica Singleton Van Buren, acting First Lady of the United States during the presidency of Martin Van Buren
  • Shawn Weatherly, Miss USA and Miss Universe 1980
  • Deandre Ross,All American Defensive End


External links


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