There are records of a property known as “Summer Seat” dating from as far back as the 20th of June 1678 with a warrant granting a tract to Baker Brooke Esq., although he died in March of 1678/79 before patents could be issued to him. The patent went to his son, Baker Brooke, Jr. on 1 June 1685. In his will, probated 27 May 1698, Baker Brooke, Jr. devised Summer Seat to his daughter, Ann Brooke.
There are some lost records between 1700 and 1727, although sometime during this period Ann Brooke reportedly married Benedict Leonard Boarman of Charles County but no date has been found. The Summer Seat tract was later found in the will of a John Miles, probated on 23 January 1726/27.
Sometime between 1698 and 1727 the tract had passed from Ann Brooke to John Miles, Sr., but no records have been found to support this transfer. Later, a Philip Key in his will, acknowledged that he had bought Summer Seat from John Miles and devised it to his son, Thomas Key. On 11 November 1768 Thomas Key sold Summer Seat to Col. John Reeder Jr.
It was reported that John Reeder Jr. built a house on Summer Seat in 1773, which was a large, Georgian-style brick mansion. John Reeder, Jr. died in 1780 and his land passed down to his daughter, Susanna Reeder. Susanna married first, Doctor John Ireland, and had a daughter, Dicandia. Doctor Ireland died and Susanna then married Doctor Gustavus Brown on 19 August 1788. The description of Summer Seat appears in the Federal Direct Tax of 1798 as listed by Doctor Gustavus Brown. This is probably the house built by John Reeder, Jr.
Doctor Brown was summoned in 1799 to attend George Washington in his last illness. However, George had died prior to Doctor Brown reaching Mount Vernon. Doctor Gustavus Brown died without issue at Summerseat on 3 July 1801 and is buried at the Reeder family cemetery in the Sandgates area. His wife, Susanna died before 18 February 1821. Her only heir, by her first husband, was Dicandia Smith Ireland. Dicandia married first Henry A. Smith and then Judge Clement Dorsey.
The Dorsey’s daughter and heir to Summerseat, Susan Reeder Dorsey, was born 6 November 1814. On 19 December 1837, Susan Reeder Dorsey married Sylvester John Costigan. They had one boy and six girls. The boy, Christopher Ireland Dorsey Costigan, died from wounds received in the War of Northern Aggression. He was buried at Summerseat in January 1863. From records from the 1860s through the 1930s reveal that the Costigan’s were slowly selling off their estate. It seems they had both a home in Washington DC and Summerseat.
Two of the Costigan girls married. These were Catherine Fitzsimons who married Vernon Dorsey and Susan Reeder who married Dr. Lewis James Sutton. The “misses” Costigans consisted of:
1. Dicandia Dorsey Costigan
2. Mary Hammond Costigan
3. Frances McDonnell Costigan
4. Sarah Martin Costigan
The Misses Costigan announced the opening of a boarding school for a “limited number of young ladies” at Summerseat for September 1861. The curriculum consisted of “Music Vocal and Instrumental, French, Italian, Spanish, Drawing and Painting in Water Colors and Oil Painting.”
One reference to the Civil War and its effects on the people of Summerseat was found in that in 1861, Sylvester Costigan was reported arrested by federal troops but was released “having been treated… with much courtesy and kindness.”
On 11 March 1874, the house called Summerseat was destroyed by fire. Sylvester Costigan died on 12 August 1875 in Washington DC; and his wife, Susan Reeder Dorsey Costigan, died 7 March 1878 at Wales, the home of her daughter, Susan R. Sutton, just across the Three Notch Road. Both Sylvester and his wife, Susan, were buried at Summerseat.. The four “Misses” Costigans were not the possessors of Summerseat. The farm was still being worked in 1882 and sports, baseball, were being played at Summerseat in 1882, as well.
On 21 March 1884, a new house at Summerseat was completed by contractor, C. E. Bennett; and by 10 July 1884, the “Misses” Costigan had moved into their new house. A two-story tenant house was built at the same time by William Collins, a mulatto carpenter.
Mary Hammond Costigan died in 1885 and left her part of Summerseat to her sisters. Sarah Martin Costigan died in 1918 and left her part to the unmarried sisters. Frances McDonnell Costigan died on 6 August 1930. Her will, made out in 1906, left her estate to her sisters Sarah Hammond Costigan and Dicandia Dorsey Costigan. Dicandia Dorsey Costigan died in 1931 and left all of her estate to her sister, Susan Reeder Sutton.
Susan R. Sutton sold what was left of Summerseat to Vernon Dorsey on 27 November 1931. The will of Vernon Dorsey, probated 17 August 1953, left his property to his wife, Evelyn Dorsey. She sold Summerseat to her stepson, Gilbert Dorsey, on 19 March 1955. Gilbert’s widow, Jean Dorsey Burgee sold the tract, 128.638-acres to Robert C. and Shelva Davis on 25 February 1985. Then finally, on 27 September 2001, Robert C. and Shelva J. Davis sold the tract to the group Summerseat Farm, Inc. See Board of Directors.
Summerseat is a working farm for crops and farm animals, and Summerseat Farm, Inc. is a non-profit organization, which owns and operates the property to preserve the rural character, history, and natural resources of the farm and prevent it from development. It is run entirely by volunteers. There is a need for feeding and taking care of the animals and their barn areas, gardening and landscaping, lawn mowing, fence and building repair, administrative work, historical research, upkeep and maintenance on buildings, special events, and several committees.
Atop the shaded knoll is situated the main house at Summerseat, which is a Queen Anne style, two story, frame dwelling. Immediately around the house are several outbuildings, probably constructed in the early twentieth century. There is, on the west side of the house, a brick dairy/root cellar and a smokehouse. Just outside the garden is the Costigan family cemetery; a frame storage (gardening) shed; a frame (potting) shed; and a clapboard covered garage (mower storage).
Northwest of the garden is a frame work house (office) and a two-story rental cottage with a gambrel roof. To the southeast of the house at the base of the ridge, is an agricultural courtyard. There is a late-nineteenth century tobacco barn; gambrel roof tobacco barn, a modern tobacco barn (dwarf Hereford/goats/pigs), a stripping shed, crib (chickens & pigs); shed roof building (sheep/goats/cats). There are also two grain/corn silos, now used for storage. There is a pasture on the north side of the driveway with Barbados sheep and the pasture on the south side of the driveway holds a herd of American Buffalo.
We’re always looking for someone with a special talent that we can use at Summerseat and that you’re willing to share. Perhaps you’re good at sign making, photography, computers, building crafty items for sale at events. We rely heavily on donations, memberships, and foundation grants to keep the farm running; and your donations are fully tax deductible.