Shelby Ohio Authors

 Margaretta Lena Brucker
 The back ground photos are book covers from several of her books.
Ferdinand Brucker was born in Ebergassing, Lower Austria in 1824. He married
Margaretta Zechmeister in Vienna in 1848 and after moving to Detroit, Michigan
he and Margaretta had their first child, Charles, in 1849. Over the next decade
or so, they would have an additional seven children while Ferdinand started and
operated a shingle-making business in Bridgeport, Saginaw County, Michigan.
The June 17, 1875 issue of the Shelby Independent News reported the following:
"With pleaure we give place to the following from the correspondent in the Courier (daily) published at East Saginaw, Michigan, in relation to the parties who lately purchased the lumber yard and shop, known as the Shelby Manufacturing Company:
I learn that Ferdinand, Charles and Frank Brucker have recently purchased a lumber and planing mill in Shelby, Ohio. Our genial friend Charley leaves today to take charge of the business at Shelby, while Ferdinand and Frank attend to manufacturing
lumber and shingles at their mills in Saginaw and Midland counties to supply the yard. Your correspondent congratulates the good people of Shelby on their good fortune in getting so reliable a firm among them. The firm is to be known under the firm name of Ferdinand Brucker & Sons. As they manufacture lumber and shingles,
they will be able to sell at such prices as to defy competition. Their shingles have an excellent reputation all over the country, and especially in Ohio, where they have been extensively sold. Success to the firm."
The September 30, 1875 issue of the Shelby Independent News states:
"The Messrs. Brucker are fixing up their planing mills and grounds, getting on a large stock of lumber, and are preparing to do a fine business. They are laying the foundation for an immense business in this region. Getting their lumber direct from their own mills in Michigan, they are able to compete with any market."
The Shelby Times issue of October 8, 1881 announced:
"At the residence of Mr. D. L. Cockley, Wednesday , October 5th, 1881- 1 o'clock
p.m., by Rev. J.W. Thompson, Mr. Francis Brucker to Miss Lena A. Palmer, all of Shelby, Ohio."
Two years later, their first child, Margaretta Lena "Retta" Brucker was
born. She received her given names from her grandmother (Margaretta)
and mother (Lena). Lena Brucker must have traveled often between her new
home in Shelby and Saginaw, Michigan because Margaretta and second
child, Ferdinand Francis Brucker (names received from grandfather and
father), were both born in Saginaw. Their following four children (Mary, Gilbert
Palmer,Lewis Seldon, and Franklin Henry, were born in Shelby.
Ferdinand Brucker passed away in 1889 and son Francis acquired a
thriving lumber business that was supplying materials for the building
trade in Shelby as well as other communities in Ohio and surrounding
states. Within a few years, Francis entered into a partnership with
Jacob Leighty and Henry Wentz to develop the Beverstock farm that
included the land now occupied by the Grand Boulevard.
Jacob Leighty would lend his expertise in the overall layout of the lots
and the new access roads (Wentz, Leighty, and Brucker). Henry Wentz,
who was a long time friend of Jacob Leighty, would contribute his legal
experience and business acumen. Francis would supply building materials
for the homes that would soon be constructed in the new Shelby community.
After attending Shelby High School Retta enrolled at Lake Erie Female
Seminary in Painesville, Ohio where the seminarians were trained as teachers.
September 16, 1902 - Shelby Daily Globe:
"Miss Retta Brucker leaves tomorrow for the fall term of school at Painesville. Ohio."
The Boulevard building project began in the late 1890s and by 1905 there
were many new homes occupied and more being constructed each year. It
was obvious that the booming factories in Shelby needed an increasing
number of homes to house their new workers. The Boulevard and other
new Shelby allotments were required to satisfy that growing need.
A 23 year old Margaretta Brucker must have acquired some of her
family entrepreneurship spirit; the December 18, 1906 issue of the
Shelby Daily Globe reports:
"Miss Retta Brucker is holding a Christmas sale at the public Library beginning this afternoon Dec. 18, continuing until Saturday evening. Water color pictures 25 to 50 cents. Satchets, dinner and Christmas cards and other novelties 10 to 25 cents."
It was during this period of her life that Retta began helping her father
at the Shelby Standard Manufacturing Company where he served as
president and treasurer. By 1920, Francis had moved back to Michigan
where he sold real estate until his death in 1924. Retta and her mother
soon moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where they ran the Cotton Bale
Tea room. They also maintained their address in Shelby (43 Marvin Ave.)
and lived alternately at those two locations.

Cotton Bale Tea Room  - Ann Arbor, Michigan

Margaretta Lena "Retta" Brucker 
When living in Shelby in the early nineteen thirties, Retta often used an
apartment at the Shelby library to work on projects. She was very artistic and
had expanded her water color painting to include china painting using her
own designs. In an article appearing in the Shelby Daily Globe in August of
1984, Marian Jane Love Brucker (Retta's sister in law) indicated that Retta
got her ideas for her first book "Death in the Dormitory" from real life
experiences from a girl's school in the south where Retta had earlier taught.
While living in Shelby, Retta maintained a schedule of writing every morning.
This continued from the time of her first published book (1937) until her
death in 1958. She wrote and published nearly 30 books in 22 years.
Her audience was largely children and young adults but she also wrote
books under the pen name of Margaret Howe that mostly concerned
nursing and medically slanted fiction.
Below are a selected few covers and the complete list of Retta's books.

Margaretta Brucker Fiction
Death in the Dornitory - 1937
Poison Party - 1938
Lover's Choice - 1939
There Goes the Bride - 1940
Sweet Moon - 1940
Sue Ellen - 1941
Rich Girl - 1942
Love at the Crosrroads - 1943
Murder at Lover's Lake - 1943
His Secretary - 1944
Welcome Home Johnny - 1945
Together - 1945
Nobody Loves Forever - 1946
One True Love - 1949
Doctor Jim - 1949
Birthday Ball - 1951
A Girl Named Marcia - 1952
Summer Date - 1953
 (Children's Fiction)
The One and Only - 1955
Big, Brave & Handsome - 1956
Three Boys and a Girl - 1957
New Boy in Town - 1958
 Margaret Howe
Calling Doctor Merryman - 1954
Special Nurse - 1955
Visiting Nurse - 1956
The Girl in the White Cap - 1957
Debutante Nurse - 1958
Nurse Jenny - 1958
A Doctor for Barbara - 1958
Several of the books were published in serial form in newspapers and magazines.
As can be seen above, she was just beginning to hit her stride, especially with the
publication of her Margaret Howe series, when she died suddenly while visiting
a friend in Peoria, Illinois.
The Shelby Daily Globe - November 12, 1958:

" Final Rites for Margaretta Brucker, 74 -year-old Shelby writer who penned some 30 books, will be held at the Barkdull Funeral Home . . . Miss Brucker, who resided at 34 N. Gamble St., died Tuesday forenoon in the Peoria, Ill. home of Miss Juliet Dadge, a friend whom she was visiting. Her death followed a heart attack. Born in Saginaw, Mich., she spent her early life in Shelby, was graduated from Lake Erie College in Painesville and taught home economics in schools in Alabama and Mississippi. She was a life-long member of the First United Presbyterian Church here and was a member of the Shelby Ninety-seven Club. Survivors include two brothers Lewis of Cincinnati and Ferdinand of Akron."
Questions, comments or additions?
Email  Us


Copyright 2018 - 2023 - The Shelby Museum of History, Inc.