Jars, jars, and more jars. In addition to more than 1,000 fruit jars, the Minnetrista Heritage Collections includes approximately 100 packer jars. So what is a packer jar?
What a great idea! Give away a jar, encourage canning, and, of course, sell a few products. That’s exactly what Ball Brothers Company did for the International Canning Contests held during the 1930s.
The very dapper George A. Ball dressed like a child for a party at his home! How could that be and why? According to Emily Kimbrough, in her delightful memoir of early 20th century Muncie, not only was George dressed in young boy’s clothing, Frances dressed like a little girl.
When Ball Corporation moved headquarters to Colorado in 1998, the company donated its large collection of jars to Minnetrista. Ball chemist Dick Cole headed across town to Minnetrista instead of making the longer trip to Colorado. Why would Minnetrista hire a chemist? Dick’s work involved chemistry but his passion is the Ball jar, and he followed “his” jars here. Dick retired several years ago, but I still rely on his expertise. And, occasionally, I recycle stories that he shared. This is one.
Several days ago, a Ball State University student asked to interview me for a video she was making for a journalism class. Her project was Muncie history, and she wanted to talk about the Ball family. One of her questions was “What impact, besides Ball State University, did the Ball family have on Muncie?” There are many ways that the family made an impact, but we’ll start with another institution that carries the name “Ball.”
I bet that, in his wildest dreams, Lucius S. Ball, father of the Ball brothers, never thought that he’d be featured in a museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Yet he is.
Alvah was just one of several Bingham family members who made considerable contributions to the success of Ball Brothers Company.
For almost 25 years, Minnetrista staff told visitors a passed-down story about the Dr. Lucius L. Ball family home. The story goes that Lucius didn’t build his family’s home but, instead, purchased an existing farmhouse that faced Wheeling Pike (now Wheeling Avenue) and, around 1910, rotated it 180 degrees in order for it to face the river like the rest of the homes. Turns out, the story isn’t entirely true.
They’re all around us—Ball fruit jars are used for just about everything these days. In the last few years, I’ve seen Ball jars used as light fixtures, flower vases, wedding décor, hand lotion containers, luminaries and, sometimes, for canning.
Planning for the first Enchanted Gardens: A Luminaria Walk at Oakhurst Gardens began right after the George A. Ball home and Oakhurst Gardens opened to the public in May 1995.