I knew my grandmother was born in Petrolia. What I did not know was why. Through much research into the family I have come to understand the most likely reason.
In the late 1870’s his carriage shop and house were lost to a fire caused by an arsonist. At almost a total loss of which the insurance would only cover a small portion he had to decide his future. As he had been doing a tremendous trade, he decided to rebuild, but an economic downturn caused him to lose almost everything.
Petrolia, Ontario at that time was one of the few places that was not affected by the poor world economy due to the large amount of oil that was coming from its oil wells.
My great grandfather uprooted his family from Acton and moved them to Petrolia. They would remain there until his untimely death in March of 1886. There he rebuilt his blacksmith and carriage building company and from what I can see, in just seven years, it would provide for his widow and young family. Something that I found out was that James Ryder actually took a partner in 1882. It appears that he either sold the company at that point to a Man by the name of Borland or partnered with him.
When he left Acton in 1879 he began anew in Petrolia (Petrolea). This move would change forever many in his family that would have probably remained in Acton had he not moved.
James had two families. His first wife had died at a young age, leaving him with five young children. He then married Frances Sophia Martin, almost sixteen years his junior and they had eight of their own four of whom were born in Petrolia.
None of his second family would remain in Petrolia and in part 1 of this series, I give more detail on Petrolia and surmise why. The family was quite young when their family lost their father and shortly after his death, Frances moved back to Acton, where she would continue to raise her eight young children to adulthood. She never remarried and remained alone taking in the odd boarder until she was too old. At this point she sold her home and traveled around staying with each of her children for a short period of time during the year until her death.
I imagine that the move to Petrolia would have been a difficult one for them. My great grandmother was like my great grandfather from a large family in Acton. There were many sisters, brother, and cousins, not to mention friends. Even after they moved there they continued to make frequent visits to Acton.
At the time of their move James children from his first wife were ranging in age from ten to twenty. He with Frances had only four children at the time ages six to one. The other four would all be born in Petrolia between 1880 and 1885.
Back to Acton and more of the Ryder family next time.