‘A very interesting and somewhat complicated individual’: Veronica Gregory presents Garland Nevitt


Due to the occupancy limits on classrooms, the Main Gallery of the CMU Museum of Cultural and Natural History had been transformed into a classroom to accommodate more students during the COVID-19 pandemic in Oct. of 2020.

Veronica Gregory, a candidate for an accelerated master's degree in history, is presenting “Garland Nevitt: Cather, Coach and Chief” with original research that stemmed from her curiosity about a nickname in a yearbook.

This presentation is on Feb. 7 at 7:00 p.m. in Rowe 124 as part of the Central Michigan University Museum and Isabella County Historical Society speaker series.

“I think with the sports topic in general and Garland’s story being as fascinating as it is, and the connection to CMU, I think it can be appealing to a lot of audiences,” Gregory said. 

According to Gregory’s research, Nevitt was a minor league baseball player before coming to CMU, where he was a coach and athletic director for at least a year in the early 1900s.

Nevitt also had both African American and Native American heritage, which Gregory said may have impacted his experiences and career prospects.

Jay Martin is the director of the museum department and a professor at CMU. He described Garland Nevitt as a ”very interesting and somewhat complicated individual.”

“He lived in a time when diversity wasn’t celebrated in our culture,” Martin said. “Yes, he was a very diverse individual and accomplished a lot of things on an uncommon level, which said he was clearly a quite talented person.”

Gregory said she discovered Nevitt and took an interest in his story while reviewing yearbooks as part of her work for the museum. 

“I was doing some other research for the museum and I found this guy’s name in an old yearbook, and it was ‘Chief’ Nevitt,” Gregory said. “And it had quotation marks around the ‘chief,’ and I was wondering why, so I started (looking) into it. Dr. Martin encouraged me too, and that led to a larger research project.”

Gregory also said that she wants the audience to understand Garland as a distinctive individual. 

“Just learning about Garland, that he existed and that he was a fascinating historical figure,” Gregory said. “His life wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t perfect. His story matters.”