Long before Royal Oak gained its reputation for its vibrant food scene and nightlife, a significant historical event took place under a mighty oak tree near the present-day intersection of Main Street and Crooks Road. A lively conversation would ensue that would lead to a history lesson and the bestowing of a name.
The year was 1819. Territorial Governor Lewis Cass and his crew left Detroit on horseback to a rendezvous that would result in the Saginaw Treaty. Stopping for lunch, they encountered a remarkable oak tree. Cass entertained his staff with the story of King Charles II and the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester—the final battle of the English Civil War. History has it that to escape capture by the Roundheads, who sought to eliminate the English monarchy, Charles hid in an English oak tree in Boscobel Wood, England. He remained concealed until his allies could bring him to a place of safety. He remained in exile for nine years. After the restoration of the English monarchy, the tree that saved the King's life became an English national monument known as the Royal Oak.
It is said that Cass delivered his history lesson while lying on the ground, gazing up at the majestic three that was providing a marvelous ambiance for their luncheon. In awe, he reportedly exclaimed, "This truly is a Royal Oak."
"The Naming of Royal Oak" mural features Michigan's first governor Lewis Cass shown in 1819 with Chief Pontiac. Cass is believed to have given the city its name after sitting under a giant oak tree and remarking "This is truly a great royal oak".
A marker (near the entrance to Oakview Cemetery) was placed in 1917 to mark the location of the Royal Oak.
Another marker was placed in 1971 on the 50th anniversary of the City of Royal Oak.
In 2011, an English oak was planted near the site of Cass's Oak tree. Read more.