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?”
No, not at a movie on Saturday night. Not that kind of date. Instead, I mean how do you tell how old your Ball jar is?
William was the first brother to marry. His bride, Emma Wood, was born in Massachusetts, graduated from Concord Ladies Seminary, and then moved to Buffalo, New York, where she met William. In Muncie, she was active with the county humane society and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her obituary noted that “She was one of those kindly, generous people who derived their chief satisfaction in helping others….”
As the five Ball brothers – Lucius L., William C., Edmund B., Frank C., and George A. – grew to adulthood in Canandaigua, New York, their uncle George Harvey Ball watched for business opportunities in nearby Buffalo. Uncle George, brother of Lucius Styles Ball, was a pastor of a Baptist church in Buffalo. In 1878, the first venture that he recommended was making wooden containers to pack fish in. Frank and Edmund were the principles in this endeavor. This venture ended when their entire product was destroyed in a fire. The brothers returned to Canandaigua...
If it wasn’t for the Ball fruit jar, Minnetrista wouldn’t exist. That humble jar, so important to food preservation, generated an industry that put Muncie on the map and provided the Ball family with the wherewithal to give back to their community, particularly in the form of Ball Memorial Hospital, Ball State University and, later, Minnetrista...