William T. Newby was born March 23, 1820, in McMinnville, Tennessee. He was orphaned at the age of six and later moved to Missouri, where on October 14, 1841 he married Miss Sarah Jane McGary. Newby was a traveling companion of John Gordon Baker during the 1843 Great Migration.
In 1844, at the age of 32 he took claim of 640 acres adjoining to the south of the Baker’s property. He built a cabin, which near the site of the present day McMinnville Public Library. McMinnville was named after his hometown in Tennessee. Other founding members of McMinnville include: The Malones, Arthurs, Martins, Stagges, Shaddons, Burnetts, and Rogers.
In 1852 he cut a ditch from Baker creek to Cozine creek through his land and put up a gristmill where he milled grain for local farmers.
This eventually became the towns main industry resulting in the early growth of McMinnville.
In 1856, Newby laid out this city plat on five acres he donated to the town, centering it along the old Native American trail, which is now called Baker Street. He named McMinnville after his hometown in Tennessee.
Newby served as the county assessor in 1848 and in 1870 he was elected to state senate. He died in his home on October 22, 1884 and is buried at the Masonic Cemetery.