Ball Brothers

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The Ball brothers were five American industrialists and philanthropists, responsible for founding the Ball Corporation, and funding the institution that would become Ball State University as well as a number of other projects in their community of Muncie, Indiana.

The Ball Brothers from left to right: George A. Ball, Lucius L. Ball, Frank C. Ball, Edmund B. Ball, and William C. Ball
The Ball Brothers from left to right: William Charles Ball (1852–1921), Frank Clayton Ball (1857–1943), Lucius Lorenzo Ball (seated) (1850–1932), Edmund Burke Ball (1855–1925), George Alexander Ball (1862–1955)

The Ball brothers, best known for their home canning jars, first went into business together in 1880. Their parents, Lucius Styles Ball (1814-1878) and Maria Polly Bingham Ball (1822-1892) had six sons and two daughters: Lucina Amelia, Lucius Lorenzo, William Charles, Edmund Burke, Frank Clayton, Mary Frances, George Alexander, and Clinton Harvey, who died in infancy. The family was raised in eastern Ohio and in upstate New York.[1]

After the brothers moved from New York to Muncie, Indiana, in 1885, due to the abundance of natural gas in the area, the Ball Corporation continued to prosper, and the Ball family made a number of philanthropic investments in the community. The first factory to produce canning jars, known sometimes as "Ball jars"[2] due to their prolific manufacture and use, was opened in 1888. Since then, the company has subsequently expanded and diversified the enterprise. By 1937, the value of the company was estimated at nearly $7 million. In the following decades, the brothers funded in whole or in part Ball State University, Ball Memorial Hospital, the local YMCA, and the Minnetrista cultural center and golf course.[3] The Ball brothers did not forget New York or the help of their uncle, George Harvey Ball, who shared the Ball family dedication to higher education and who founded Keuka College. The Ball brothers provided funds and land for Keuka College in New York (see below).

The brothers[edit]

  • Lucius Lorenzo Ball (1850-1932) The eldest Ball brother was a resident of Muncie for 30 years. He was born in Greensburg, Ohio on March 29. Married to Sarah Rogers and received his degree from the University of Buffalo. As a doctor, he was very well known within the community and was a leading practitioner in medicine for the city.[4]
  • William Charles Ball (1852-1921) William was born in Trumbull County, Ohio. When the Ball Brothers moved to Indiana, he remained in Buffalo, New York to close out affairs. He finally moved to Muncie in 1897. He married Emma Wood Ball. William was the secretary for the Ball Company. Like his brothers, he was heavily involved in the political world of Muncie.[5]
  • Edmund Burke Ball (1855-1925) Edmund Burke was also born in Ohio and traveled to Muncie with his wife, Bertha. Edmund served as treasurer of the corporation and was one of the original co-founders with his brother, Frank.[6]
  • Frank Clayton Ball (1857-1943) Frank Clayton was the President of the Ball Brothers Corporation. He was born in Greensburg, Ohio. Like the other Ball brothers, Frank took an interest in the public affairs of the community in Muncie. Frank was also president of the Muncie YMCA.[7]
  • George Alexander Ball (1862-1955) George Alexander was also treasurer of the corporation. His interest in the glass manufacturing company was quickly identified after its inception. The youngest of the ball brothers, George joined the Ball Corporation in 1883, at the age of 21. He was married to Frances Woodworth.[8]


The five Ball brothers moved to Indiana in the 1880s so their glass factories could use the area's abundance of natural gas. The success of Ball Corporation allowed them to donate money to fill community needs and foster the city's growth. They worked with nonprofit agencies to help local and regional residents.[9]

Today, the Ball Brothers Foundation gives seed money for new projects, programs, and initiatives.[9]


The family bought land along the White River in 1893. F.C. Ball built a house called Minnetrista, for a “gathering place by the water”. Today, Minnetrista preserves artifacts that document the history of Muncie and East Central Indiana. Visitors can search the gardens of Minnetrista for free. The natural areas of Minnetrista have an assorted community of native Indiana plant and animal species. Minnetrista has always been a gathering place and continues to be an important part of the Muncie community.[10]

Ball State University[edit]

Ball State University opened in 1899 as a small, private teacher training school to help boost the development of the city. After the college failed, the Ball brothers purchased the land and buildings and donated them to the State of Indiana. The school opened in 1918 as the Indiana State Normal School Easter Division. In 1922, to recognize the generosity of the Ball family, the schools name was changed to Ball Teachers College in 1922 and then to Ball State University Teachers College in 1929. By the 1960s, Ball State University Teachers College began to grow as a university and in 1965 was renamed Ball State University.[11]

Keuka College[edit]

Keuka College is a private liberal arts-based and residential college with an emphasis on experiential learning and career education. It is based in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. It was founded in 1890 by George Harvey Ball, uncle to the Ball brothers. With their father in poor health, the young Ball brothers "found a friend and confidant in their uncle" George. When the young boys' mother, Lucius Styles Ball, died, Uncle George provided financial support and some measure of stability to the young Ball brothers.[12] The Ball brothers, when they became financially successful, expressed their gratitude to their uncle by supporting Keuka College, donating land and providing funds. In recognition of this, Ball Hall (Ball Memorial Hall) at Keuka was named in 1921 after George Harvey Ball and the Ball Brothers[13]

Ball Brothers Foundation[edit]

Grants from the Ball Brothers Foundation are awarded to organizations that demonstrate "better practices" or strive toward "best practice designation" in conducting their business and have continued interests in improving the quality of life for citizens of Indiana.[14] The foundation looks to fund innovation, programs that are just starting, and companies going through expansion.[14]


While only companies or organizations can apply for grants from the Ball Brothers Foundation, there is a wide variety of subjects and topics that the grants can go towards. Areas of interest that are eligible to apply include:

  • Education (higher education, public and private education)
  • Arts, Culture & Humanities (cultural activities & institutions)
  • Human Services (including youth services)
  • Public/Society Benefit (community betterment)
  • Health (including school & community wellness, youth development, & recreation)
  • Environment (including conservation and land management)[14]

Grant types[edit]

  • BBF General Grant
  • BBF Rapid Grant
    • For organizations that need immediate funding up to $5,000[15]
  • BBF Organizational Effectiveness/Executive Mentoring Grant
    • 150 hours of professional consulting for the organization
    • Two invitations to IYI's Because Kids Count Conference
    • One Invitation to attend Principles and Techniques of Fundraising taught by The Fundraising School at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy
    • Ability to apply for a $10,000 sub-award to further improve the organization[16]


Every year the Ball Brothers Foundation recognizes individuals for their outstanding work in his or her community.

  • Excellence in Teaching Award
    • Yearly award to recognize an outstanding K-12 public school teacher in Delaware County, IN that guides students to collaborate, think critically, and to use problem-solving skills, and creativity
    • $15,000 goes towards the teacher’s classroom, school and district[17]
  • The John W. & Janice B. Fisher Governance Award
    • Every year a board member is selected who shows strong leadership for the betterment of his or her selected nonprofit organization. The award of $10,000 is given to the selected nonprofit organization for board training and support. Organizations that serve the citizens of Delaware County may nominate a board member who has been on the panel for a minimum of two years, and exemplifies the four requirements of board service (mission, financial stability, planning, and recognition for the organization).[18]


  1. ^ Quigley, Barbara. "Ball Family Photographs" (PDF). Manuscript and Visual Collections Department. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ Ball Mason Jars, Mason Jars Headquarters
  3. ^ Ball State University. "The Ball brothers". Ball State University. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ Quigley, Barbara. "Ball Family Photographs" (PDF). Indiana Historical Society. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Haimbaugh, F.D. "History of Delaware County". Delaware County. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Ball State University. "E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center". Ball State. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  7. ^ Haimbaugh, F.D. "History of Delaware County". Indiana County History. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Haimbaugh, F.D. "History Of Delaware County". Indiana County History. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Ball Brothers". Ball Brothers Foundation. Retrieved November 6, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Minnetrista History". SpinWeb. Retrieved November 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Ball State University History and Mission". SpinWeb. Retrieved November 6, 2012. 
  12. ^ Anthony O. Edmonds, E. Bruce Geelhoed, Ball State University: An Interpretive History (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001), p.47.
  13. ^ Philip A. Africa, Keuka College: A History (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1974), pp.114-115.
  14. ^ a b c "Our Grant Programs". Ball Brothers Foundation. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  15. ^ "Types of Grants". The Ball Brothers Foundation. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  16. ^ "Organizational Effectiveness Grant: Request for Proposals". The Indiana Youth Institute. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  17. ^ "BBF Announces New Award". Ball Brothers Foundation. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  18. ^ "The John W. & Janice B. Fisher Governance Award". Ball Brothers Foundation. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 

Muncie Indiana County records[edit]

External links[edit]