Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company
Location: 1401 East Memorial Drive, near white brick batch tower. The location is the original site of Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company, Muncie. (Delaware County, Indiana)
Installed 2008 Indiana Historical Bureau and Minnetrista
ID# : 18.2008.1
Company incorporated in New York 1886 to manufacture glassware (particularly fruit jars). Brothers Edmund, Frank, George, William, and Lucius Ball all were trustees. Company - promised money, land, and free natural gas - came to Muncie; first glassware produced here 1888. Led nation in production of fruit jars by 1900.
Ball Brothers expanded its operations in Muncie and into other states. Company diversified holdings into plastics, rubber, and aerospace technology. Closed Muncie plant 1962; moved corporate offices 1998. Company and owners contributed to the state and nation's economy and culture in many significant ways.
Business, Industry, and Labor
Company incorporated in New York 1886 to manufacture glassware (particularly fruit jars). Brothers Edmund, Frank, George, William, and Lucius Ball all were trustees.(1) Company - promised money, land, and free natural gas(2) - came to Muncie; first glassware produced here 1888.(3) Led nation in production of fruit jars by 1900.(4)
Ball Brothers expanded its operations in Muncie(5)and into other states. Company diversified holdings into plastics, rubber, and aerospace technology. (6)(7) Closed Muncie plant(8)1962; moved corporate offices 1998.(9)Company and owners contributed to the state and nation's economy and culture in many significant ways.(10)
(1)Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, February 10, 1886 (B060102).
(2) Muncie Daily Times, August 1, 1887 (B060332). The report hails Ball Brothers' move to Muncie and the $100,000 payroll that the factory would generate. Muncie's gas field is identified as a major reason for the move. The report claimed that improvements and works for new factories now under contract will bring not less than $300,000 additional capital to Muncie in the next three months.
George A. Ball noted on September 24, 1887, that Muncie would give the company $7,500 cash, 3 acres of land, railroad facilities, and free gas for five years. George A. Ball, Minutes, 1886-1887, (September 6, 1887- September 27, 1887), Minnetrista Archives, Ball Corp./Closet Collection, Misc., pp. 4-5 (B060096).
General Manager Chas. E. Tuthill of the Manufacturers Guarantee Fund Association wrote to the Ball Brothers, offering all the natural gas that was necessary to operate the plant. Letter, Chas. E. Tuthill to Ball Brothers, December 30, 1887, Minnetrista Archives, Historical Files, Box 1, Folder 5, Correspondence: Re: Ball Bros. Move to Muncie (B060250).
A letter from Jas. Heekin on January 1, 1888, confirmed that the deed and check to release the lots deeded to Ball Brothers in Muncie was sent. The letter also confirmed that Ball Brothers was welcome to as much natural gas as they wanted until the well ran dry. Letter, Jas. Heekin and Co. to Ball Bros. Mf Co., January 1, 1888, Minnetrista Archive, Historical Files, Box 1, Folder 5, Correspondence: Re: Ball Bros. Move to Muncie (B060251).
(3) Fires for glassmaking started at the Muncie factory February 18, 1888. Birmingham, 70 (B060025). The first glassware was manufactured at the Muncie plant on March 1, 1888. An article in The Muncie Times claimed the products were of superior quality because of the intense and regular heat provided by natural gas. The Muncie Times, March 1, 1888 (B060331).
(4)Clifton J. Phillips, Indiana in Transition: The Emergence of an Industrial Commonwealth, 1880-1920 (Indianapolis, 1968), 298 (B060008).
The 1900 Census noted the discovery of gas in Indiana attracted many factories early in the last decade . . . the value of its (Indiana's) product being nearly five times that of 1890. The value of products produced in glassware was $14,757,833, second only to the $22,011,130 produced in Pennsylvania. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Twelfth Census (1900), IX, Manufactures, 958 (B060338).
Phillips, 298 (B060008). Phillips cited the History of Ball Brothers Company 1878-1949 and Frank C. Ball, Memoirs (Muncie, 1937), 76-78 as his sources for the number of jars produced per day, 240,000.
The 1900 Census stated, The largest fruit jar plant in the world, with a daily capacity of 240,000 jars, all machine-made, is in Indiana. Phillips combined the information about jar production with the numbers cited in the Census to come up with claim that Ball Brothers became the largest producer of fruit jars in the country. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Twelfth Census (1900), IX, Manufactures, 974 (B060338).
(5) Muncie Evening Press, September 27, 1927 (B060254). By 1927, Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company's Muncie glass plant had expanded to three million square feet, covering sixty-three acres.
(6) Ibid. (B060254). The towns were: Wichita Falls, Texas, Noblesville, Indiana, Huntington, West Virginia, Sapulpa, Oklahoma, and Hillsboro, Illinois.
Ball entered the plastics industry with the purchase of Kent Plastics Corporation in 1953. Ball Gets Control of Kent Corp., New York Times, April 18, 1953 (B060288).
Ball entered the rubber industry with the purchase of Chardon Rubber Company in 1954. Ball Brothers Buys Plant, New York Times, August 31, 1954 (B060285).
Ball expanded operations to include research in electronics, astrophysics, and optics with the creation of Ball Brothers Research Corporation in 1957. Research Concern Formed, New York Times, March 10, 1957 (B060287).
(7) Business Week, July 21, 1962 (B060336) and Birmingham, 171-79 (B060025).
(8) Indianapolis News, January 13, 1962 (B060239).
(9) The Star Press (Muncie), February 5, 1998 (B060353).
(10) Ball Teachers College, Bulletins, Vol. 1-4, 1925-1929, 11 (B060327). Ball Brothers offered to donate seventy acres of property they bought from the old Muncie National Institute to the Indiana Normal School in Terre Haute for the purpose of starting a branch in Muncie. Ten acres of the property had school buildings and a dorm while sixty acres were open to development. The Normal School trustees accepted the donation and classes started at the Indiana State Normal School, Eastern Division in the summer 1918 in Muncie.
On February 11, 1922, Ball Brothers announced more gifts. $250,000 to the Normal School (for a gymnasium and other capital projects), $100,000 to the Muncie YMCA, $100,000 to hospital extension work in Muncie, and $25,000 to the Delaware County Tuberculosis Association, and $1 million among various other Muncie charities. Indianapolis Star, February 12, 1922 (B060297).
As a result of the Ball's generosity, the board of trustees of the Normal School in May 1922 changed to name of the institution from Indiana State Normal School, Eastern Division, to Ball Teacher's College. Ball Teachers College, Bulletins, Vol. 1-4, 1925-1929, 11 (B060327).
On February 2, 1926, the Ball Brothers announced more donations to the community. Ball Brothers donated $1 million to Muncie for the erection and endowment of a general hospital and nurses home to be known as the Ball Memorial hospital. Ball Teacher's College received $150,000 for a girls dormitory from the Ball Brothers. Ball Brothers also contributed $500,000 to the Riley hospital for children in Indianapolis. Indianapolis Star, February 3, 1926 (B060298).
The donations made by the Ball Brothers, both the company and the brothers individually, were honored by the State of Indiana when Governor Harry G. Leslie approved a bill on March 7, 1929 that changed the name of the teacher's college in Muncie to Ball State Teachers College. (Laws of Indiana, 1929, 74-75 (B060300).
The name of the college in Muncie was changed once more on February 8, 1965 when Governor Roger D. Branigin approved legislation naming the institution Ball State University. Laws of Indiana, 1965, 2-3 (B0603001).