Determined to own his own land rather than to rent or sharecrop, former slave Ervin James (1815-1872) bought a 105-acre tract here in 1870. His five sons and a son-in-law later divided the tract into individual farms, and other area families purchased additional land, creating a rural community of some 250 residents that flourished for 70 years. Among its institutions were Jamestown Cemetery, Summerville Methodist Church (now Bowers Chapel United Methodist Church), established about 1880, and an elementary school founded in 1926. Only one of the settlement’s original houses remains. A large family reunion, with educational programs open to the public, is held each July.