“The Forgotten Iron King of the Great Lakes: Eber Brock Ward” – Presented by Michael Nagle – Video Replay

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“The Forgotten Iron King of the Great Lakes: Eber Brock Ward”

Presented by:  Michael Nagle

Video Replay Link:


The Forgotten Iron King of the Great Lakes: Eber Brock Ward, 1811-1875 brings the Gilded Age industrialist that became Michigan’s wealthiest resident and helped shaped the nation into the spotlight. Eber Brock Ward (1811–1875) began his career as a cabin boy on his uncle’s sailing vessels, but when he died in 1875, he was the wealthiest man in Michigan. His innovative business activities had Ward engaged in the steamboat, railroad, lumber, mining, and iron and steel industries. In 1864, his facility near Detroit became the first in the nation to produce steel using the more efficient Bessemer method.

Michael Nagle demonstrates how much of Ward’s success was due to his ability to vertically integrate his business operations, which were undertaken decades before other more famous moguls, such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. And yet, despite his countless successes, Ward’s life was filled with ruthless competition, labor conflict, familial dispute, and scandal. Nagle makes extensive use of Ward’s correspondence, business records, contemporary newspaper accounts, and other archival material to craft a balanced profile of this fascinating figure whose actions influenced the history and culture of the Great Lakes and beyond.

One of our most in-demand lecturers, Nagle kicks off the Benzonia Academy Lecture Series for the year each January.  His past lectures covered topics including Civil War Monuments, impeachment, and the use of presidential executive orders.

Nagle holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and Master of Arts degree in history from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. He teaches history and political science at West Shore Community College, in Scottville, Michigan, where he also serves as chair of the social sciences division. Nagle is an award-winning teacher and noted speaker covering a range of topics in American history, Michigan history, and student success and retention in the on-line classroom. His first book, Justus S. Stearns; Michigan Pine King and Kentucky Coal Baron, 1845-1933, won the Kentucky History Award. The Forgotten Iron King of the Great Lakes: Eber Brock Ward, 1811 1875 is his second book. Both were published by Wayne State University Press. Nagle lives in Ludington, Michigan.

PURCHASING “The Forgotten Iron King of the Great Lakes”

A book review:

“One would think that these outlandish tales would make Eber Brock Ward and his role in pushing Michigan from an extractive economy
into the Industrial Age unforgettable. But that’s not how it went. Author Michael W. Nagle shows how Ward fell into oblivion despite scandals and exploits that would make him Twitter-famous today. One bizarre tale follows another as he hops from shipping to mining to manufacturing to becoming Michigan’s richest man. As this bad-boy Horatio Alger raised his personal fortune, he also raised eyebrows and hackles. Ward may not have been remembered, but people who read Nagle’s book will never forget him.”
– Joe Grimm, author of The Faygo Book (Wayne State University Press, 2008) and coauthor of Coney Detroit
(Wayne State University Press, 2012)