In 1880 a small business was launched in Buffalo, NY. Making tin cans to hold kerosene and paint, the modest business soon redesigned their product and expanded into glass production. It wasn’t long before the company’s fruit jars were outselling their kerosene cans. Looking to capitalize on the area’s natural gas supply, the company opened a glass factory in Muncie. This move proved successful.
The next time that you’re in the Center Building at Minnetrista, stop in the Heritage Collection Gallery to see glass, and lots of it. There is the sublime—the beautiful paperweight made by St. Clair Glass Company—to the supremely useful—an insulator made by Hemingray Glass Company. What do these two very different pieces of glass have in common? Sand! Yep, sand. Plus a few other ingredients, such as limestone, and soda ash. So what determines the color of glass? Again, sand.
A little over a month ago, I was looking around making notes about the needs of the gardens at Minnetrista, and I noticed what looked like little bits of cotton spread out on the ground below an oak tree. At first I thought a mower had hit a cigarette butt that someone littered, but after a closer look, that wasn’t what it was. This cottony looking substance was a sign we had a wooly aphid infestation.
It’s beautiful and in absolutely lovely condition for its age. The quilt features multi-colored silk patches, delicate embroidery and a gray velvet border. Sarah Rogers of Buffalo, New York made this crazy quilt ca. 1890, about three years before she married oldest Ball brother, Lucius. Sarah brought it with her when she and Lucius moved to Muncie and established their home on Minnetrista Boulevard. The quilt was handed down to Sarah’s only child, Helen Ball Robinson, who donated it to the Minnetrista Heritage Collection.
Working with the Minnetrista Heritage Collection I have the daily fun of interacting with “old stuff.” This stuff might be someone’s baby dress from the 1890s, a favorite cereal bowl (admit it, you have one in your own kitchen), or one of the first ball jars made in Muncie. Now, I realize this might not sound all that exciting to everyone. Imagine this, however. Each of these items is a portal to a different time and place. Just like a good book, that cereal bowl may have a unique story to tell. What if that bowl held one of the first pours of a new product in 1916—Kellogg’s All Bran. Holding the bowl you could imagine how hungry stomachs were tamed. You could almost feel the crunch of the cereal in your teeth. And you might envision a family moving through their morning routine just as your family does today.
Doing yardwork this time of the year comes with its many challenges.
Find some awesome places at Minnetrista to Instagram!
We have thousands of letters in the Minnetrista Heritage Collection. Some are momentous, with news of births, marriages, deaths, or important business deals. Others are the stuff of everyday life – requests for money from students away at school, reports on the day’s mundane activities, or a little bit of gossip. One of my favorites hovers somewhere between. It’s a letter from Edmund F. Ball to his uncles Frank and George written in September, 1942 while serving overseas in the U.S. Army.
On March 15, 1909, a spectacle for the eyes graced Oxford Street in London. A grand building decked in laurel and flags stood ready to receive its first visitors. At 9:00 a.m., a bugle sounded and the doors of Selfridges department store were thrown open. Thousands of shoppers, ready to inspect the new store and its merchandise poured in.