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The Shipwreck Thomas Hume

By Valerie van Heest and William Lafferty

On May 21, 1891, the lumber schooner Thomas Hume and its crew of seven sailed out of Chicago, into a spring storm, never to be seen again. The vessel’s owners, Charles Hackley and Thomas Hume of Muskegon, Michigan, could not believe the sturdy lumber hooker could be overcome by rough water. Perhaps a freighter hit it, sank it, then steamed north. Or maybe the crew stole the Hume, repainted it, and sailed away under a different name. The disappearance of the Thomas Hume lingered as one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Great Lakes. In recent years, it even became fodder for UFO stories on the internet.

More than a century after its disappearance, the discovery of the wreck of the Thomas Hume solved the mystery of its disappearance. However, the collection of shoes, clothing, jewelry, coins, and tools found inside generated even more questions. An archaeological investigation by Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates and the Lakeshore Museum Center has attempted to solve the riddles posed by the shipwreck. After survey dives, historical research, and detective-like reasoning, the team pieced together not only the Thomas Hume’s career, but how its crew lived, worked, and died.

Nonfiction ISBN:978-0-9801750-8-0 | Soft Cover | 7×10 Format | 128 Pages | 80 Illustrations | $21.95 Free U.S. Shipping

Valerie van Heest is a principal in Lafferty van Heest and Associates Exhibit Design Firm, director of Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates (MSRA), and a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, who has explored, documented and interpreted shipwrecks for over twenty years. She is a recipient of multiple awards for the collection, preservation and promotion of state and local history through her interpretation, writing, filmmaking, and exhibit work. She has written several books and magazine articles and written and directed more than a dozen documentary films.. Her work has been featured in numerous books and articles as well. She is a regular presenter at museums, libraries, and film festivals, sharing the dramatic stories of ships (and an airplane) gone missing on the Great Lakes and has appeared on television news networks as well as on the History, Discovery, and Travel Channels. Valerie spearheads MSRA’s search for ships lost off western Michigan, which has resulted in the discovery of many new shipwrecks.

Contact the author at www.ValerieVanHeest.com or at shipwrecked@chartermi.net

2017 Recipient of Joyce S. Hayward Award for Historic Interpretation from Association for Great Lakes Maritime History
2009 State History Award for the Exhibit “From Hennepin to the Thousand Footers” at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center
2006 Induction into Women Divers Hall of Fame
2007 State History Award for the volunteer contributions to the Preservation of Michigan’s submerged maritime heritage

William Lafferty is an award-winning author, twice winner of the Broadcast Education Association’s History Award, and winner of the Association of Great Lakes Maritime History Barkhausen Award, as well as a filmmaker and maritime historian. He was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and grew up in the western ‘burbs of Chicago. He spent his summers in Ludington, Michigan, where his interest in Lake Michigan’s maritime history began at the age of ten. Over the years, he has developed an extensive collection of material and photographs and has become the preeminent expert in the history of self-unloading vessels. His chapter entitled “The Rise of the Self-Unloaders” in Victoria Brehm’s A Fully Accredited Ocean is a precursor to Buckets and Belts: Evolution of the Great Lakes Self-Unloader. Lafferty holds a BS, MA from Purdue University, and a PhD from Northwestern University. He is retired associate professor at Wright State University in Ohio, where he had taught since 1981.

Contact the author at william.lafferty@wright.edu


2015 Marine Historian of the Year from the Detroit Marine Historical Society
2009 Barkhausen Award from the Association of Great Lakes Maritime History
2009 State History Award for the Exhibit “From Hennepin to the Thousand Footers” at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center