About Oliver Newberry
Oliver Newberry (born East Windsor, Connecticut, 17 November 1789; died Detroit, Michigan, 30 July 1860), a brother of Walter Loomis Newberry, served during the war of 1812, and also during the Black Hawk War. In 1816 he settled in Buffalo, New York, but in 1820 he went to Detroit, where he established himself in business. Soon after his arrival in Detroit, he secured government contracts to furnish all supplies to the numerous forts and Indian trading-posts in the northwest. He was unable to obtain suitable transportation, and was compelled to build a vessel for his own use. Afterward, he constructed other vessels during successive years until he became one of the largest owners of shipping on the lakes.
In 1833, he built the “Michigan,” his first steamboat, which was the largest that until that time had been launched for the lake trade. Several warehouses were constructed by him along the river front in Detroit, where his various schooners, brigs, and steamboats were loaded. He was elected an alderman in Detroit in 1831, and he was associated in the early history of Michigan railroads. For many years, he carried all of his business papers in his hat, and was rarely seen uncovered. He was known as the “commodore” of the lakes, and was sometimes called “the steamboat king.”