|Birth: ||May 6, 1774|
|Death: ||Oct. 11, 1834|
Major Oliver Williams, one of the pioneer settlers in Michigan, and of Oakland county, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, May 6, 1774, son of Benjamin and Anna (Fuller) Williams. He was a trader & hatter in his youth (1794); he had a hatter's shop in Concord, Mass., and married Mary Lee in Concord in 1796, residing principally there up until the time he emigrated to the Michigan Territory, first coming to Detroit in 1808. He soon after established a mercantile business, purchasing his goods in Boston, carting them overland in covered wagons to Buffalo, and shipping by water to Detroit. He ran a hotel (called the "Yankee") and tavern in Detroit "from the local situation of his house" on Jefferson Ave.
During the winter of 1810-11 he built in a private shipyard at the River Rouge, a large sloop which he named the "Friends Goodwill", which was used as his mercantile vessel but which in the summer of 1812, just previous to the breaking out of the war between the United States and Great Britain, made a voyage to Ft. Mackinaw (the port of Michilimackinac); there it was chartered to the U.S. government to carry supplies to Ft. Dearborn in Chicago, and back from Chicago to Fort Mackinaw. On their return landing at Ft. Mackinaw, Williams was taken prisoner by the British. (After his release sometime later he was commissioned as a war hero.)
Oliver's sloop as well was seized as a prize of war by the British, which they renamed HMS "Little Belt"; this sloop was re-captured by the American side during the War of 1812's famous "Battle of Lake Erie".
He brought his wife & 8 children to Detroit in 1815. He was marshal for a parade for President Monroe in Detroit in 1817.
In the fall of 1818, with his brother-in-law Alpheus Williams & a small group, Williams traveled north to the outpost of Pontiac & beyond, becoming the first pioneers to investigate what was reported to be the uninhabitable Michigan Territory. Williams & his wife selected a site for a home on the shore of the lake they named, "Silver"; Oliver returning in the winter of 1818-1819 to build a 50' x 20' log home, one and a half stories high, with a shake roof, which they moved into in March of 1819. In the summer of 1820 was built a 40' x 40' barn. He was befriended by the Indians, Chief Sashabaw in particular.
Williams held the first school in Oakland Co. (1821) in the loft of his sheep shed, and later built the first schoolhouse (1822) in the county on his settlement at Silver Lake.
Frenchmen Alexis De Tocqueville & Gustave De Beaumont corresponded with Williams before they visited him on July 24, 1831, during their tour of America.
Oliver died at his home on Silver Lake in Waterford Twp Oct. 11, 1834. His monument at Oak Hill is inscribed:
Benjamin & Anna
of Roxbury, Mass.
Died Oct. 11, 1834
Aged 60 yrs.
and 6 mos."
Oliver had nine surviving children, all pioneers in their own way: two sons were instrumental in the settling of Saginaw and Flint; two sons were the founders of Owosso and involved with the early railroads in MI; two sons were pioneers in California during the "gold rush" & early days thereafter; and the three daughters all became married to entrepreneurial, enterprising men and became respected pioneers and principals in Grand Blanc & Pontiac.
The later descendants of Oliver Williams continue(d) to shape and influence our world...
(In 2004, Oliver's sloop "Friends Good Will" was replicated/recreated and is berthed at the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven, MI, ready to take on passengers.)
Benjamin Williams (1730 - 1775)
Anna Fuller Williams (1746 - 1825)
Mary Lee Williams (1777 - 1860)*
Ephraim Smith Williams (1802 - 1890)*
Caroline Lee Williams Stevens (1806 - 1847)*
Mary Anna Williams Hodges (1807 - 1889)*
Alfred Leonzo Williams (1808 - 1886)*
Benjamin Oliver Williams (1810 - 1887)*
Alpheus Fuller Williams (1812 - 1884)*
James Monroe Williams (1817 - 1903)*
Smith Williams (1766 - 1775)*
Abigail Williams (1768 - 1826)*
Oliver Williams (1774 - 1834)
Oak Hill Cemetery
Plot: Section 3, lot 100
GPS (lat/lon): 42.64241, -83.28662
Created by: Jeff Lloyd ©2004-2014
Record added: Jan 05, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 23763522