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.
The headline in the newspaper article said that he was set to “take part in all-male review,” but did he? According to the preview article, George A. Ball was to be one of eighty Muncie businessmen to play a Kentucky Colonel in “The Dream of a Clown” at the Masonic Temple auditorium on October 20 and 21, 1943.
Recently, some early twentieth century Muncie-related correspondence and Muncie newspapers were donated to the Minnetrista Heritage Collection. As I quickly skimmed through the newspapers, the headline “Workman Slain in Cold Blood” from The Muncie Evening Press of Thursday, December 23, 1920, screamed at me.
Let’s bust a few myths. The guy on the horse at the point of Granville and Walnut Avenues isn’t the non-existent Chief Munsee, the Indian depicted in the statue didn’t live in these parts, and the city of Muncie isn’t named for that same non-existent chief. So who is he, what is that statue doing here, and why was Muncie named “Muncie?”