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Oliver Newberry

NEWBERRY, Oliver, steamboat-builder, born in East Windsor, Connecticut, 17 November, 1789; died in Detroit, Michigan, 30 July, 1860. He 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, Michigan, where he established himself in business, which he thereafter prosecuted with considerable success. 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. Mr. Newberry was elected an alderman in 1831, and he was associated in the early history of Michigan railroads. He was a man of strict integrity in his business and personal relations. 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."---His brother, Walter Loomis, merchant, born in East Windsor, Connecticut, 18 September, 1804; died at sea, 6 November, 1868, was educated at Clinton, New York, and fitted for the United States military academy, but, failing in the physical examination, entered commercial life in 1822 with his brother in Buffalo, New York In 1828 he removed to Detroit, Michigan, and there engaged in the dry-goods business with great success, but after a tour of observation about the great lakes with General Lewis Cass and William B. Astor bought lands at various points, notably at Chicago, whither he removed in 1833, and entered in business with George W. Dole, as forwarding and commission merchants and dealers in general merchandise, afterward becoming a successful banker. Mr. Newberry was one of the founders of the Merchants' loan and trust companies bank, and long one of its directors. He was also a director and president of the Galena railroad (now the Great Northwestern railroad). Mr. Newberry was for many years in the school board and twice its chairman, and for six years he was president of the Chicago historical society. In 1841 he was active in founding the Young men's library association of Chicago, was its first president, and made the first contribution of books to its collection. He visited Europe in 1868, and died on his homeward voyage. By his will half of his real estate, or more than $2,000,000, was left under certain conditions to found a library, to be named for him, and located in the north division of Chicago. At the death of his widow in December, 1885, his two daughters haying died unmarried, this bequest became available. It is largely in real estate that is not fully developed, and likely to increase greatly in value. The first report of the trustees of the Newberry library, issued in January, 1888, showed that as a site for the library building the block formerly occupied as the Newberry family homestead had been chosen. Meanwhile temporary quarters had been selected and William F. Peele appointed librarian. The sum of $15,000 had already been expended in the purchase of books, and the collection now numbers more than 6,000 volumes with about 5,000 pamphlets. George P. A. Healy, the artist, has presented to the library a collection of nearly fifty portraits, mostly of eminent Americans, which form the beginning of a future art gallery.--His nephew, John Stoughton, lawyer, born in Waterville, New York, 18 November, 1826; died in Detroit, Michigan, 2 January, 1887, was graduated at the University of Michigan in 1845, became a civil engineer, and engaged in the laying out and construction of the Michigan Central railroad on its line west of Kalamazoo. He then studied law and entered on the practice of that profession in 1853 in Detroit, where he so<)n acquired a large practice in admiralty and maritime cases before the United States courts. Eventually he made a specialty of that department of law, in which he acquired the distinction of being one of the foremost authorities in the west. In 1864 he became associated with James McMillan (q. v.) in the organization of the Michigan car company, a corporation that ultimately became the largest firm of car-builders in the United States, controlling similar factories in St. Louis, Maine, and London, Ont. He held the office of president. vice-president, or director in more than a score of incorporated companies that gave employment to more than 5,000 men, thus materially aiding in the development of Michigan. His time became gradually absorbed in the care of these enterprises until he entirely relinquished his law-practice. In 1862 he was appointed provost-marshal for Michigan, and served for two years, during which time he had charge of two drafts, with the forwarding of conscripts and enlisted soldiers to the seat of war. He was elected to congress as a Republican, and served from 18 March, 1879, till 4 March, 1881, but refused a renomination in order to give his attention more exclusively to his business enterprises. Mr. Newberry accumulated a large fortune, and gave $100,000 toward the building of a public hospital in Detroit. He bequeathed to various benevolent purposes $600,000 in addition to his other legacies, he edited "Reports of Admiralty Cases, 1842-'57" (New York, 1857).

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