Historic Detroit

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Walter H. Oades (Nov. 2, 1849 - July 8, 1916)

Walter H. Oades was a shipbuilder, like his father and grandfather before him.

He was born Nov. 2, 1849, in Clayton, N.Y., and relocated to Detroit with his father, John Oades, in 1865. In 1866, when he was just 17 years old, he started a small shipyard at the foot of Dubois Street, building yawl boats and other small watercraft. A year later, his father quit his job at the Detroit Dry Dock Co., and they went into business as partners.

Their first venture was the schooner W.H. Oades, named for the younger shipbuilder. The small vessel had a rather unlucky career, being practically destroyed by fire during construction - and almost taking the shop with her. After the fire damage was repaired, the W.H. Oades fell down from her keel blocks, which had been undermined by heavy rains. After the boat entered service, she sank, only to be raised and then sank again at Buffalo, N.Y., only to be raised and then sank a final time at Point Pelee.

Among the vessels built by the Oadeses were the Ariel, the John Oades, the John Burt, the Mineral State, the Ganges, the Adventure, the Alice Wilds, the Shenango (later rechristened the Lizzie Madden), the Charles Hibbard, the Minnie M, and the tug Owen.

Walter Oades also built many pontoons for wrecking, and did repair work for steamers and yachts.

He died July 8, 1916, at age 66.