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.
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.
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.
At the end of July, faeries will invade the gardens at Oakhurst, bringing their magic with them to delight our visitors. The event Faeries, Sprites, & Lights was conceived more than twenty years ago as a tribute to Elisabeth “Betty” Ball’s childhood belief in faeries.
After being disappointed with the quality of motels available during a family road trip, Kemmons Wilson decided to build his own hotel. The first Holiday Inn opened in Memphis, Tennessee in August 1952. A little more than seven years later, the 119th hotel in the chain opened in Muncie at South Madison Street and U.S. 35. Although some of the hotels were company owned, the hotel in Muncie was franchised by Harper Hotels, Inc. Company president was Henry “Hank” Harper, Jr.
While it’s fun to look at historic black and white images of the five Ball brothers’ homes, it’s also great to see them in glorious color. Albany, Indiana artist Alan Patrick made sure that we will always have that color record of the homes. In 1996, Patrick received a commission from Alltrista (now Jarden Home Brands) to create paintings of the homes. At first, he considered making one painting that would be a collage of all five houses. After consideration and study, however, he decided to make a separate painting of each house. He photographed the four standing houses—the Frank C. Ball home was destroyed by fire in 1967—in the early spring, and went to work in his studio.
On March 4, several Minnetrista staff attended the grand opening of the latest in the series of “You Are There” exhibits at the Indiana Historical Society (IHS). In the “You Are There” exhibits, historic photographs are brought to life three-dimensionally with actors playing the people in the photos. The “Communities Can!” is special for us, because it features a photograph and artifacts from the Minnetrista Heritage Collection. The exhibit was funded by Ball Brothers Foundation.
Help, please. I’ve written about Ball Stores before, but I’m writing again to ask for your help. Please share your stories of Ball Stores for both a book and an exhibit. Did you or a family member work there? Was visiting Santa a yearly tradition? Do you have a particularly vivid memory of a shopping experience? Here are two memories that Hope Barnes shared in her December 12, 1989 article in the Muncie Star:
Ed and Virginia Ball sent beautiful, uniquely designed Christmas cards to family, friends and acquaintances. Some featured their family while others documented places they traveled, events in their lives, and the people they knew.
When the calendar page turns to November, a true Hoosier’s thoughts turn to basketball. And in Muncie, during the first quarter of the 20th century, basketball definitely meant the Muncie High School Bearcats. It wasn’t even necessary to have been born in Indiana or to have attended Muncie High School to be a fan. Bearcat fever evidently infected Frances and Sarah Ball and their sister-in-law Frances Ball Mauck, at least for one night.