Speaker Series

Clarke Historical Library

Summer 2014 Speakers

June 3: Michael Schumacker, November's Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913.

On Thursday, November 6, the Detroit News forecasted "moderate to brisk" winds for the Great Lakes. On Friday, the Port Huron Times-Herald predicted a "moderately severe" storm. Hourly the warnings became more and more dire. Weather forecasting was in its infancy, however, and radio communication was not much better; by the time it became clear that a freshwater hurricane of epic proportions was developing, the storm was well on its way to becoming the deadliest in Great Lakes maritime history.

The ultimate story of man versus nature, November's Fury recounts the dramatic events that unfolded over those four days in 1913, as captains eager—or at times forced—to finish the season tried to outrun the massive storm that sank, stranded, or demolished dozens of boats and claimed the lives of more than 250 sailors.

The consummate storyteller of Great Lakes lore, Michael Schumacher brings this violent storm to terrifying life, from its first stirrings through its slow-mounting destructive fury to its profound aftereffects, many still felt to this day.


July 8: Jack Westbrook: "Mt. Pleasant Oil Capital of Michigan: The First Oil Boom: 1928-1939"

Well-known local historian Jack Westbrook will draw upon his many books about Mt. Pleasant history and his rich knowledge of Michigan's oil and gas industry, developed as the editor of the Michigan Oil and Gas News, to explore Mt. Pleasant's first oil boom.  Fortunes were made, lives were lost in spectacular oil well explosions, and huge industry expositions took place in Mt. Pleasant's Island Park. While America struggled through the Depression, Mt. Pleasant found new wealth pouring into the community.


July 22: Robert Knapp,  Mystery Man: Gangsters, Oil, and Murder in Michigan.

Mystery Man is the story of Isaiah Leebove, Jack Livingston, and a cast of innocents and not so innocents. Oil barons from Okla­homa like Nathan Livingston and Henry Sinclair, New York gangsters like Arnold Rothstein and "Legs" Diamond, Detroit's Purple Gang, even Charles Lindbergh's baby all figure in the unfolding drama that ultimately played out in the days of Michigan's oil boom. A personal grudge led to Leebove's murder – or was it the perfect gangland slaying?

Robert Knapp was raised in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. He earned his B.A degree in 1968 from Central Michigan University. In 1973 he completed his Ph.D. in Ancient History After a brief stint in the Classics Department at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and another in the History Department at the University of Utah, he settled into the Classics Department at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1974. He remained there, advancing eventually to the rank of Professor and serving as a dean in the College of Letters and Science. He retired in 2006. In addition to his career in California, he enjoys researching the local history of Clare, Michigan, where he is restoring the log home originally built by his great-grandfather in 1888.

All presentations will be held in the Park Library Auditorium, beginning at 7:00 p.m.  Each will be followed by a reception in the Clarke Library. Individuals needing an accommodation to attend the event should phone 989-774-1100 or email the Library at clarke@cmich.edu.​


For more information about any of these presentations please contact the Clarke Library at Clarke@cmich.edu or call (989) 774-3352. Individuals in need of an accommodation for any of these events should call (989) 774-1100.​

CMU is an AA/EO institution, providing equal opportunity to all persons, including minorities, females, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. | CentralLink
Copyright Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Mich. 48859 | Phone 989-774-4000 | Privacy Policy | Feedback | Full Site