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April 17, 1980


PIX #1 - Plate identifies well-known Fostoria business person's piano

PIX #2 - Bertha Wickerd's personal piano and Ken McClary the man who discovered he owned it.

The greatest and most thrilling surprise developing from the East Tiffin Street story was that Bertha Wickerd's own personal piano is still in existence and until very recently was right here in Fostoria.

Here's the story and how it became known:

The same day the Potluck article was published I had a telephone call from Ken McClary, residing in Wayne. He is a teacher at Northwood School, and also a restorer and tuner of pianos.

At about the same time the paper was going to press, he had purchased another piano in Fostoria from the A.G. Shumaker family at 526 N. Union Street. Upon opening up the front of the piano he saw an inscription molded into one of the cast metal parts which read..."Made especially for Bertha Wickerd, Fostoria, Ohio. It excited him because it was unusual, and the first time he had ever seen such an identification.

McClary wondered "who is Bertha Wickerd" until he opened The Review Times and there read about her business career in Fostoria. That's when he telephoned me.


I learned from Mrs. Shumaker that they had purchased the piano a couple of years ago from Mrs. May Rowe, Fostoria, so their son could take lessons. Mrs. Shumaker said the piano had been owned by Mrs. Rowe for many years, but she had disposed of it when she moved into a mobile home, thinking she wouldn't have space for it.

Mrs. Rowe's parents, the Shultz', bought the Wickerd piano for her when she was a young girl so she could take lessons. The Shultzs had a farm family, and the homestead still stands, on Seneca County Road 28, and it is still in the family. Mrs. Rowe lives in Fostoria.

According to McClary, the piano is smaller than most uprights and has more than the usual number of supports in the back, indicating it was very special ...and made for Bertha Wickerd's own personal use. Presumably she used it for a few years and then disposed of it to the Shultz family.

Wickerd offered piano lessons, probably as an inducement to prospective customers, and one of her teachers was Avilda Drenner (Apger) an aunt of Mrs. Frank Kirian, Mrs. Charles McPherson, Mrs. Roy Swartz and Mrs. Paul Krupp, all Fostorians. It is even possible that Miss Drenner could have been May Shultz' teacher.

So how old is the piano?


This writer's guess would be, since the inscription in the piano doesn't tell, Wickerd had the piano made for her in 1907 or 1908, after she moved into her new location on East North Street (See Potluck March 27, 1980), which would make it approximately 72 years old.

McClary says the piano is still in fine shape.

Mrs. Shumaker says she is sorry now that she didn't think to donate the piano to the Fostoria Area Historical Society, instead of selling it. Perhaps it could still find its final home there...a reminder of an earlier era about Fostoria and its history.

McClary plans to seal the articles about Wickerd and the piano in plastic cover and place it in the piano, so that the next owner will know its history.


A telephone call from Mrs. Guy (Nina) Kizer revealed another Wickerd piano is still around.

In 1906, when Mrs. Kizer was a young girl, her parents bought a demonstrator model from the Wickerd Music Store, so she could take lessons, which were being given by Mrs. Gardner at the Wickerd Store.

After Mrs. Kizer took lessons and grew up and married, she kept the piano until years later she sold it to Walter Fruth, so their children could take lessons.

According to Fruth, they had it all figured out how they could get the piano down the basement stairs and into the recreation room. But the mover erred in his calculations, and they finally had to partially tear part of the staris away to complete the move. Consequently, when the Fruths moved they left the piano in the basement at 316 Summit Street., and it is still there, now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Berridge, who resides there.

Mrs. Berridge said she often wondered how they got the piano in the basement. .."thought perhaps they had built the house around the piano", she said jokingly.

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