I don’t even know how I found it. Must have been looking up my great aunt’s name, possibly to find her date of death, which I still have not found.
There was an article in the “Acton Free Press” in 1961, celebrating a couple for having kept their business going in Acton for over fifty-two years. The owner's names were Harold and Laura Wiles. Their business was at 18 Mill Street in Acton.
I originally thought they were man and wife, but upon further investigation, I realized they were in fact brother and sister.
The article was most likely of interest because of the length of time they were there and also because it was the depot for the Gray Coach Bus.
While reading the article I found out that my great aunt Laura owned and operated the business as a grocery store and ice cream parlor before the Wiles took over. She would have been in her early twenties at the time.
Unlike her mother and other sisters, Aunt Laura was not a glove maker.
Born in 1883 and not getting married until 1909, I am thinking that Laura probably was not expecting to marry and rather than take a conventional job, she decided to be adventuresome.
To own and operate a grocery store and ice cream parlor would have been quite avant-garde for a single woman the time. Most women in Acton would have worked in the needle trade or become a teacher or a nurse.
I always remember Aunt Laura as a proud-looking woman. She stood straight and had quite a presence. Like my grandmother, she was about 5'7", considered tall for a woman of that time. From all the information I could find on Laura, I also noticed that she, like the others, seemed to excel in school.
The building that housed the store was built in 1839 by Dr. McGarvin and for many years was a doctor’s office. It later became a hardware store and barber before Laura converted it to a grocery and ice cream parlor. The last business to run there was that of the Wiles, who ran it as a convenience store, bus depot and diner.
Laura’s younger brother Nelson was the youngest of James and Frances children. Born in August of 1885 he would never know his father who died in March of 1886.
When James died the family moved back to Acton from Petrolia and Frances remained a widow, raising the eight children left her on her own.
Laura did not own the shop for very long. She met Robert Elgie and married in 1909. This is when the Wiles purchased the shop.
Take a look at the lives of Laura Beatrice Ryder and David Nelson Ryder in this final chapter of my Ryder family. Maude Ryder was my paternal grandmother and next I will focus on Robert John Bell and Maude Ryder-Bell and their family. Stay tuned. If you follow me, you will be notified of any updates.