In 1998, I got a telephone call from Louesa Danks, granddaughter of James Meeks of The Meeks Mortuary family. When I heard that she was interested in donating a large collection of Meeks furniture, then registrar Heather Davis and I immediately booked our flight to Columbia, Missouri.
Look at the children in the front row of this group of glass workers. How old do you think they are? Eight or nine years old, maybe? While we would be horrified now to think of young children working in a glass factory—or any place, for that matter—it was common fewer than one hundred years ago.
Every now and then an object of mysterious function comes into the Minnetrista Heritage Collection. Often, the donor doesn’t know what it is, but just that they “found it when I cleaned out grandma’s basement.” We look through our reference books and search on-line. It is hard, however, to Google something when you have no idea at all what it is.
It was located on Broadway Avenue in Muncie—now Martin Luther King Boulevard—and it smelled bad. At times, it smelled really bad. It was the meat packing company that started as Kuhner and closed many years later as Marhoefer.
In the late 1960s, Frances Petty Sargent and her late husband, Ed Petty, were in San Francisco shortly after MGM held an auction of stored properties. While shopping in a store on Ghiradelli Square, they purchased the Munchkin hat from that auction and, thus, began a hobby of collecting hats and other headgear that continued into the 1980s.
The next time you drive by Westside Park in Muncie, look to the north as you pass Hutchison Avenue. One hundred years ago, you wouldn’t have seen houses, trees or a nursing home. Instead, you would have seen Port Glass Works, a large operating glass factory, where hundreds of workers made fruit jars by hand...
Several years ago, Minnetrista’s former curator of business and industrial history, Dick Cole, asked me if I knew what made a Mason jar a Mason jar. He was thoroughly surprised when I was able to tell him, because he knew that my main interest in our large collection of jars is the stories that they can tell. I am not an expert on closures and markings, although I’ve certainly learned a lot in my time at Minnetrista. I also know that I can call on Dick to answer my questions, because he loves to share his knowledge of fruit jars. Anyway, read on and you’ll know why Mason jars are fruit jars, but not all fruit jars are Mason jars...
Before the discovery of the Trenton Gas Field in the late 19th century, East Central Indiana was almost exclusively an agricultural area. The Gas Boom became a defining moment in the development of the region. Natural gas had an enormous impact on the history, culture, and life of the region and produced a period of economic growth, marked by a dramatic surge in the number of energy-dependent industries that took advantage of the relatively cheap source of fuel to build new factories in the area. Principal among these industries was the manufacturing of glass...