BY JACK R. WESTBROOK
Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing, $21.99,
www.arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665
By the mid-1800s, Native Americans, farmers and lumber companies were making their livelihood in Isabella County. Towns and villages dotted the county with one-room schoolhouses and sprawling farms. More than two hundred photos represent dozens of cities throughout the county, from Beal City to Winn.
A glimpse into the past: Author's book shows local heritage By Susan Kalee - 02/06/2009 Central Michigan Life
Maxine Klumpp Kent's roots run deep in Isabella County.
The family of the associate vice president for Human Resources at Central Michigan University saturates the area, and the Klumpp family farm once occupied the space where Kewadin Village apartments are located on West Campus Drive.
Kent, who grew up on that farm as a young girl, was one of the attendees at the historical presentation by Jack R. Westbrook on Wednesday night in the Charles V. Park Library.
Westbrook, author of the book, "Images of America: Isabella County 1859-2009," gave a presentation previewing the Isabella County Founder's Day Celebration on Feb. 11.
"It is fascinating to find out about all the history that is right in your backyard," said Kent, who was born and raised in the Mount Pleasant area. Her great-grandfather settled in the area in 1899.
The book is a compilation of photographs and historical text provided by residents of the county.
Kent's father, Alfred Klumpp, appears in the Westbrook's book as an 8-year-old in front of his one-room school house in a class photo.
"Schools were separated by two miles, which was a good walk for children from the farm," Westbrook said.
The pictures provide a glimpse into the daily lives, environmental surroundings and popular pursuits of the day. Some show patient locals fishing the Chippewa River. Others show men who played on sports teams taking pride in being photographed at the local picture studio.
"Isabella County exhibits a rich cultural meld," Westbrook said.
The Mid-Michigan region was once part of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe's winter hunting grounds and was referred to as "Ojibiway besse," or, the 'place of the Chippewa.'
American Indians may have traveled around this area for as many as 10,000 years, the Isabella County Web site reports.
Before the county was officially recognized by the state on Feb. 12, 1859, land was mostly owned by African Americans who traveled north by the Underground Railroad during the time of slavery.
According to the Web site, the county was once one of the most significant pine and hardwood areas in the Great Lakes Region.
"Westbrook has had a lot of fun doing this," said Frank Boles, director of the Clarke Historical Library. "He's a regular visitor to the library because we're a good source for him."
The Founder's Day Celebration on Feb. 11 will be hosted at the Isabella County Building, 200 N. Main St. For a complete calendar of events, visit isabellacounty.org.
Historian Gives a Unique Perspective of Isabella County and CMU By Staff Writer - 12/01/2008 Mt. Pleasant Monthly
Author Jack Westbrook released a new book charting the spatial evolution of Central Michigan University’s Mt. Pleasant Campus along with the history of Isabella County.
The book, titled, “Isabella County Pictorial 1959-2009” was released on November 10th in time for the celebration of 150 years of Isabella County. Westbrook gathered most of his pictures and information for the book from Clark Historical Library on the campus of CMU.
“I wanted to focus on a smaller community like Mt. Pleasant,” Westbrook said. “CMU sweepingly demonstrates the many changes the university’s expansion had on the cultural and physical landscape of mid-Michigan.”
Westbrook collects all of the information for his books himself. He shoots the photographs, scans them and then writes the books. After everything is completed, he contacts another local historian to come and edit it. Each of his books, this is his 4th, contains around 800 photographs.
“Including all the pictures, it is unlike anything in history that has ever been published in Mt. Pleasant,” Westbrook said. “This book also shines light on cities that used to exist back in the day; for example Indian Mills used to exist and has changed its name six times.”
The “Isabella County Pictorial,” is the fourth of Westbrook’s books, all of which are published through Arcadia Publishing. The first three, also pictorial histories are “The Michigan Oil & Gas,” “Central Michigan University,” and “Mt. Pleasant Then and Now.”
The new book, which will be available at local book stores as well as through the Arcadia publishing website at www.arcadiapublishing.com boasts some 200 vintage photographs. Westbrook said the photos came primarily from the Clarke Library, but some came from a “massive publicity campaign,” in which he asked people to loan him the photos long enough to scan them.
He said he would even travel to the remote areas of the country to scan the photos, which would have been impossible without today’s technology.
“Twenty years ago this wouldn’t have been possible,” Westbrook said, adding, “I’m having almost as much fun with this job as I did with my first,” which was ironically as a journalist.
As a writer and historian Westbrook hopes that this pictorial history of Isabella county gives people a sense that there is much more to central Michigan than meets the eye, and this area, rich in history has roots in more than the logging industry.
“Isabella County’s unique story is of triumph,” he said. “This book can only give glimpses of the millions of stories of the triumph contained in Isabella County’s 575 square miles, 150 years, 89 named villages and would be settlements.”
Local author pens book on Isabella County history By Lisa Satayut - 11/26/2008 Morning Sun
Local author and historian Jack Westbrook is at it again.
His newly published pictorial book titled, "Isabella County: 1859-2009" was just released. Westbrook, who thought he was done writing, may have a few more books up his sleeve before he puts his pen and camera down.
In the book, the history of the county is outlined by chapters that focus on each township. The townships are broken down into four quadrants.
"Readers will be fascinated to find all 89 named places with 129 names mentioned or pictorially depicted in this book," he said of the book which was nationally released Nov. 10.
Westbrook said he was inspired to work on the book after friends urged him to write about Beal City and other smaller towns in the county. He didn't think his publisher would go for that, so instead he got the idea to write "Isabella County: 1859-2009" to run in conjunction with the county's 150th birthday. This way he could include all townships within the county.
After being contacted by the Sesquicentennial committee his book is being used as a fundraiser for the group.
"I was contacted by the Isabella County Sesquicentennial Committee and asked if they could team with my book rather than publishing one of their own…thus the book became the 'official book' of and fundraiser for that committee," he said.
Westbrook did a majority of his research at the Clarke Historical Library in the Park Library building at Central Michigan University.
"However, the availability in the Clarke Library of vintage photos of remote and under-populated areas of the county was very limited to nonexistent," he said.
"So I began searching for folks with a vast knowledge of those areas, knowing that in any given area there is someone with an intimate knowledge of that area's history, generally with pictures to back it up."
Around 40 percent of the photos have never been published before.
Westbrook, 68, joined Michigan Oil & Gas News, a weekly magazine, in 1973. Semi-retiring in 2001 he was a regular columnist for Michigan Oil & Gas News until December 2007.
His books are published by Arcadia Publishing and can be purchased online at www.isabellacounty.org under the Sesquicentennial link. It can also be found at the Bookmark, Book Garden, Paperback book exchange, the University bookstore at CMU, the Student Book Exchange, Walgreens and Someplace Special.
He will have a book signing Dec. 6 at Max and Emily's in Mt. Pleasant from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Westbrook will also have a signing and PowerPoint presentation at the Veteran's Memorial Library Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.