Nestled in the heart of the state, the city of Sumter is the seat of Sumter County, South Carolina, located in the midland region of the state approximately 45 miles east of Columbia, the state capital. The community is a short drive from Interstates 20, 26, 77 and 95, and encompasses US Highways 15, 521, 76 and 378.
Incorporated in 1845, the city is named for General Thomas Sumter, the "Fighting Gamecock" of the American Revolutionary War. Once a sleepy, primarily agricultural community, Sumter took a leap into the future with the opening of Shaw Air Force Base (home of the 20th Fighter Wing) in 1941. The economic boost provided by the base enabled the area to grow and diversify, with the result that today's citizens are hard at work in our expanding manufacturing and biotech industries, a thriving retail environment and one of the largest health care systems in the state. A city of culture and leisure, Sumter boasts more than 100 clubs and community organizations devoted to a wide range of interests, from the arts to historic and environmental preservation, sports and more.
||681 square miles
||City of Sumter: 42,700 Sumter County: 108,000
||Average for Year: 64F Average in Summer: 81F Average in Winter: 45F
||Manufacturing, military, medical
||City of Sumter, Mayesville, Pinewood, and Wedgefield
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SUMTER
- Sumter was the first city in the United States to adopt the council-manager form of government, now accepted as the nation's standard and used by more than 2,500 municipalities throughout the country.
- The Iris Festival, held every May at Swan Lake Iris Gardens, is a multiple winner of the "Top 20 Events in the Southeast" Award and is South Carolina's oldest continuing festival.
- Swan Lake Iris Gardens is the only public park in the United States with all eight known species of swans and 250 varieties of Japanese Iris.
- Sumter is named for General Thomas Sumter, the "Fighting Gamecock" of the American Revolution and one of the models for Mel Gibson's character in the 2000 film, The Patriot.
- The Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross (Stateburg) is the burial site of Joel Roberts Poinsett, U.S. ambassador to Mexico, botanist and namesake of the poinsettia.
- Dalzell, in Sumter County, is the home of Garnay Industries, the world's largest gingko biloba farm.
- Citadel Cadet George Edward "Tuck" Haynsworth, who fired the first shot of the Civil War, was born and raised in Sumter and is buried here.
- Potter's Raid, passing through Sumter and Clarendon Counties, was the last major campaign of the Civil War.
- Shaw Air Force Base, 10 miles from Sumter, is home to the 9th Air Force and headquarters for the 20th Fighter Wing of the USAF.
- William "April" Ellison, a freed slave from Stateburg, perfected the cotton gin invented by Eli Whitney.
- Angelica Singleton Van Buren, White House hostess during the Van Buren administration, was a Sumter native.
- Dalzell native Bill Pinkney of the original Drifters was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 alongside the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, and the Supremes.
- Philip Rembert, Sumter's first African-American City Councilman, served in World War II as one of the "Tuskegee Airmen," the fighter pilots whose story was dramatized in the 1995 HBO original movie starring Laurence Fishburne. Three of the Airmen were born or grew up in Sumter County.
- Sumter is the hometown of numerous famous athletes including Baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Richardson and Superbowl veteran Freddie Solomon.
- Sumter High School graduate Shawn Weatherly was Miss Universe 1980.
- The Palmetto Pigeon Farm is the source for squab served at Buckingham Palace.
- Renowned artists Jasper Johns and Granger McKoy both have roots in Sumter.
- The electric refrigerator was invented by a Sumter native, Charles T. Mason, Jr.
- The educator Mary McLeod Bethune, 19th-century prima donna Clara Louise Kellogg and Confederate General Richard Heron Anderson were some other notable Sumter natives.