Mary Wilber Castino

Mary Wilber Castino

1840 – 1916

In 1856 when she was 16, Mary Wilber went to Fall River, lied about her age, and married Noah Castino, age 23, a sailor from Westport. Noah was half Portuguese. We don’t know how Mary’s family took the news, but by 1860 Mary and Noah were living with them in their large farmhouse on Amesbury Lane. Noah gave up the sea and in 1857 bought farmland on John Dyer Road adjacent to his in-laws’ backfields. The couple had no children.

Noah farmed and worked as a grocer. His Civil War registration shows that even as a young man he suffered from rheumatism and dyspepsia. Mary took in boarders including schoolteachers and students. One boarder, Ernest Manchester, came as a teenage farmhand but by 1880 owned a grocery store in Pottersville and employed Mary as his clerk.

In 1881 Mary did something remarkable. As a married woman, she independently purchased Ernest’s store, lockstock-and-barrel, and began running it herself. Noah died in 1889 at age 56. Mary continued to add to her property, making her last purchase in 1899, and promising the seller she would never sell intoxicating beverages.

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Outdoor exhibit panel from the 2020 special exhibition, The Little Compton Women’s History Project.

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