Charles A. Sumner

Charles Allen Sumner, Zeta, 1854, Phi Alpha 1886-1887

Charles Allen Sumner, Zeta, 1854, was an elected official, attorney, stenographer, editor, poet and civil war officer.

Although he was born and raised in New England, he spent most of adult life in the Western portion of the United States. As an attorney, he practiced patent law.

In 1856, he moved to California and served in the state legislature from 1857-1861. He became editor of the Herald and Mirror newspaper in 1861 and was instrumental in defeating the proposed “Shafter” land
bill. During the Civil War, Brother Summer served as a captain and assistant quartermaster from 1862-1864.

He moved to Virginia City, Nevada and served in the
Nevada state senate from 1865-1868 and as president pro tempore for one session. In
1868, he returned to California and was elected to the United States House of
Representatives as a Democrat. He served in Congress from 1883-1885.

He published “Shorthand and Reporting,” (1882), “Golden Gates Sketches” (1884),
“Travel in Southern Europe” (1885) and “Sumners’ Poems” (1887, with his brother,
Samuel Sumner, who was also a Zeta (Williams) Zete.

Brother Sumner is noted in “The Story of Zeta Psi’ (1932) as the “Father of the Iota”
chapter at the University of California, Berkeley, the first college fraternity on the West
Coast of the United States.