All Three Squier Men Had Grocery Stores

The Squier family left a long legacy in the Sturgeon Bay grocery business.
Edmund (Ed) Squier was born in 1856 and married Josephine Shimmel, the
daughter of another Sturgeon Bay grocer. The earliest printed record of a
Squier store was in May 1914, when an ad in the Door County Democrat
announced that Ed Squier’s Grocery had moved into the Noll Building and
would feature Carpenter’s Milwaukee bread.By 1918, it was the first grocery in Sturgeon Bay to introduce the cash-and-
carry system. A May 2, 1918, ad noted, “We sell sugar at 9 cents per pound and pay in trade 30 cents per dozen for eggs.”
In November 1920, the Squier & Son Grocery, run by Ed and his son
Lawrence, at Cedar and Spruce (now 3rd and Michigan) was sold to Frank
Starr, who continued the business. (That address is now the home of Starr
A news item noted that both Squier families would leave soon to spend the
winter in Florida, then return in the spring to devote their time to operating
their cherry and apple orchards.
However, the 1935 telephone book again listed a Lawrence Squier Grocery at
17 S. Cedar, and a Carroll Squier Grocery at 323 Lawrence Ave. (Pre-1943,
Michigan Street was called Spruce from the bay to Church Street and later
renamed 5th Avenue. From Church [5th] to the city limits of that day, it was
called Lawrence.)
And, in August 1936, a newspaper ad titled “Here We Are Again” announced
that the Squiers had taken over the Christine Anderson Store at 323 Lawrence
Ave. (later Michigan Street). Orders totaling at least 75 cents were delivered.
This location was also home, at various times, to grocery establishments run by
Ma Roberts and Agnes O’Hern.
The 1953 telephone book included a listing for the Squier Food Store at 45 S.
3rd Ave.
Ginny Haen, an assistant docent at the Door County Historical Museum,
tracked down two addresses for Squier stores. The one where the business
spent more time was in the Stroh Block at 17 S. Cedar (renamed South 3rd in
1943), across from the fire station and next to the present home of the Sturgeon
Bay Boys and Girls Club.
Years later, this was where Thorval Toft – the nephew of “Wisconsin’s first lady of conservation,” Emma Toft – had his law office. (For those not familiar
with the term “block,” it referred to early structures built with two separate
spaces: one for use by the owner, and the other to be rented to another business,
and often with the owner’s family residence upstairs.)
Edmund Squier died of a heart attack in the early 1950s. In December 1954,
the Squier Grocery on South 3rd Avenue was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Ralph
Alexander, and it was announced that Mrs. Alexander and Lorraine Meyers
would run the store because Mr. Alexander would be busy with his seventh
term as Door County’s register of deeds.
From 1935 to 1948, Rochelle Fairchild Wisowaty lived two doors away from
the Stroh Block, at that time owned by Greisens. Rankin’s Shoe Shop was
between Wisowaty’s home and the Squiers’ store. She remembered that some
members of the family lived above the store and that there was a daughter,
Gloria, as well as three older sons.
Gloria Squier Pankratz’s son, Dave Pankratz – who recently retired after years
as a math and computer instructor at St. Norbert College in De Pere – was only
seven when his grandparents’ store was sold, but he has memories of candling
eggs from crates that held 36 dozen, holding each egg up to a flashlight.
Pankratz also remembered that, during the 1950s and early ’60s, most people
were paid on Friday, so not only the grocery stores, but all of Sturgeon Bay’s
downtown shops, stayed open late on Friday nights.
When Pankratz’s father came home from service in WWII, he worked in the
meat department at Carroll Squier’s store. Dave remembers going along
sometimes and watching his dad wrap up packages in heavy brown paper,
pulling string down from a spool hanging from the ceiling and tying neat bows
so quickly.
Dave still has that spool as a pleasant memory of those days.