Muncie, Past, Present, & Future; Hemingray listed


Publication: The Muncie Daily Times

Muncie, IN, United States


Delaware County -- Past, Present and Future –



Muncie’s Growth – What Contributed Thereto.




Nature’s Gift Unstinted. With United Effort, Well Director, The Natural Advantages have been Improved.



The Times has said much about Delaware county and the city of Muncie of a complimentary character – has made predictions about the city that were pronounced wild and visionary, and yet there has been nothing said as to what Muncie was and is but what was true – nothing predicted about what Muncie would be in three or five years past but what has been realized and it is not our purpose now to make a statement that is not grounded upon facts and which can be fully verified by the figures if necessary.

For twenty years past the county of Delaware has been considered one of the best agricultural counties in the state. The soil is fertile, timber and stone abundant. The two rivers – the Mississinewa and White rivers – traverse the county its entire lengthy, furnishing fine surface drainage, while the bottom and table lands are rich with grain, and the fat cattle, horses and swine bring the farmer a handsome revenue. The remark was frequent from the outside world, “Delaware county is a good county, good land and has a wide-awake, progressive, intelligent class of farmers.” Of Muncie ten years ago it was said, “Muncie people seem to have snap, are wide-awake, and the town is growing.” This was true then, for the cit in point of population had doubled other county seats around us. Winchester to the east and New Castle to the south remained almost stationary while Muncie was quietly but substantially growing. The towns named were just as well situated for growth then as was Muncie, were older towns, and there was no reason why the should not have grown as rapidly. Marion, to the northwest, had more life than New Castle and Winchester, but still never came quite up to Muncie in . . . [illegible text] . . . and importance.

The county and the city were then …. . . . [illegible text] . . .

…this; they want to know whether they are going forward or backward in a literal and material sense. If but one man was interested in a business he would want to know how much he had made or lost in a given time, and if he had made money what had done with it. Now, the citizens of Delaware county and of the city of Muncie are mutually interested, and are personally interested in the growth and prosperity of the county and city. It is a firm business and should be so considered – an invoice taken to see whether we are going up or down, backwards or forwards. For this purpose we will make some comparisons.

In 1880 the taxable property in the county amounted to $9,376,810. In 1891 the taxable property for the county as returned by the assessors reached $17,369,790, a net increase in valuation of $7,993,480. These returns are sworn to each year, and it is not probably that the assessors were more vigilant in 1891 than they were in 1880, or that the taxpayers would return property upon which they are required to pay taxes in excess of what they actually have.

These figures are for the county, showing a healthy growth for the entire county but the phenomenal increase is show in the city of Muncie.

In 1880 the taxables for the city amounted to $1,794,565. In 1891 the returns showed $5,094,975, an increase of $3,800,410.

The returns for Center township in which Muncie is situated show a proportionate increase, as a number of large manufacturing establishments were at the time the returns were made outside of the city limits, and returned with township assessments. In 1880 the capital employed in baking amounted to $250,000, with $421,510 reported as loans and discounts. On July 12, 1892, the capital of the three banks in Muncie amounted to $400,000, with loans and discounts of . . . [illegible text] . . .. In addition to this the Building and Loan Association of the cit have now something over $450,000 loaned and being used in erecting residences for those who are unable to make cash payments. Hundreds of houses have been built and are being paid for in this way – by weekly savings from the wages of the laboring man and skilled mechanic an by those who prefer building in this way in preference to taking the means out of their business and yet the applications for loans from these associations are to-day more numerous than

insert image JOSEPH A. GODDARD, President. ever. One good index to prosperity is the business of the postoffices and here we have a remarkable snowing. For the year 1880 the receipts of the postoffice were . . . [illegible text] . . .. For the six months ending June 30, 1891, the receipts of the Muncie postoffice amounted to $11,824,45.

The number of children of school age (between the ages of six and twenty-one years) in Muncie in . . . [illegible text] . . . was 1,743; in 1892 the number is something over 4,000.

Other comparisons might be made to show the growth in business which has been increased and extended proportionately in every line, but it is unnecessary. While ten years ago four or five car loads of manufactured goods were sent out insert image ORLANDO J. LOTT, Vice President. of the city in a month, now one firm alone sent out of their goods one hundred and twenty car loads in a month. Muncie is well situated as a commercial and shipping center, the state being the center of population and Muncie being well located for shipping facilities and for reaching the great distributing points. At a distance of from fifty-four miles to Indianapolis and two hundred miles to Chicago, we have encircling Muncie, Toledo, Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Louisville with as cheap freight rates here as can be had at any other point.

It might be well to say that this publication is not made as a boom article, or for pay, but as a kind of a review or invoice as previously stated – to give some facts that the insert image GEORGE F. McCULLOCH, Secretary. people of our city, who are walking about the streets every day attending to their own business duties, do not know and should know to let them know something about the city they live in and . . . [illegible text] . . .to inform capitalist and others who live outside, what kind of a city Muncie is and ask them to visit us, see for themselves, investigate for themselves and determine whether or not every statement is not as represented.

The census of 1880 gave Muncie a population of 5,219 – that of 1890, 11,839. At a very low estimate we now have a population of 16,000. This is a remarkable growth and something more than ordinary business reasons must be assigned for it.

Having spoken of the enterprise of the citizens of the town and county, and none are more enterprising, yet Natural Gas is the great town builder.

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Now, what more, or what that is now can be said of the beauties and benefits of natural gas? The great trouble is that all the eulogies and all the benefits that can be described only half tell the story. A fire with ready-made fuel, a perpetual and unchanging heat to the old, the sick and the infirm, just as they may want it, for the parlor, the bedroom, or the sick room. A turn of the key and comes the thundering like roar and blasé of fire that created the steam that puts hundreds of engines to work, set line and shafts in motion, lights the furnace fires, and turns thousands of spindles. This fuel, this fire that is practically free in and around Muncie saves the manufacturer from five to fifty-thousand dollars a year in the matter of fuel alone, to say noting of home conveniences and comforts. That this is true and insert image GEORGE L. LENON, Treasurer. That benefits innumerable result from the use of natural gas is apparent here, yet what has been said about it, and what can be truthfully said sounds so much like a fairy tale, that outside of the natural gas belt the truth is not believed. The people who do not believe the statements that are made and those who are unable to sell their property and locate in the gas belt, are the ones who discredit the great advantages to be derived and shake their heads with sorrowful forebodings when they ask – “will it last?” That question is one of your own asking. The . . . [illegible text] . . ., the day laborer and the manufacturer, who have made a scientific and practical investigation of the subject, are no better prepared to answer the question than you are. Either is capable of giving an intelligent opinion, and the most intelligent opinion is that it will last for years to come – probably beyond the life of the present generation. The scientist when consulted said there was neither coal, oil nor gas in eastern Indiana. In October, 1886, at Eaton, in this county, after going down . . . [illegible text] . . . feet, a magnificent gas well was developed – the first in Indiana. Oil in abundance has been found in Jay and Blackford counties. Both have been put to practical, every-day use, showing the difference between scientific theory and practice. It was then claimed that gas would soon fall. The pressure at the Eaton well developed in October 1886, is a strong to-day as when it first came in, and has been in continuous but moderate use ever since. The first well developed in Muncie was on Nov. 11, 1886, and it is as good to-day as when first anchored and has furnished fuel for factories every since. Over one hundred wells have been sunk in Delaware county and there has not been a single failure to find gas in good paying quantities in every one. Not a town, village, or cross roads, but where natural gas is used to furnish heat for factories stores and all other purposes where heat is required. The farmers use it for light and fuel in their houses, and wood and coal among the farmers are now number as things of the past.

Whether it is to last forever is one of the questions of the future. Delaware county, however, is well and favorably situated should the gas supply in any way become reduced in other portions of the field. Not a foreign pipe line penetrates the county. Not an acre of land is leased or sold for gas purposes but with the lease or deed provides that the gas is not to be piped out of the county. All of the counties around us have pipe lines put in by corporations to pipe gas to Chicago, Logansport, LaFayette, Frankfort, Lebanon, Crawfordsville, Indianapolis, Shelbyville and Richmond. While Delaware county, alone with wells as strong as the best has pro- insert image JAMES BOYCE, Executive Com. vided for the use of her gas to build up the county and the towns of the county.

Muncie has never encouraged what is frequently termed a boom since this great gift of nature was discovered. The city has increased in population somewhat rapidly but upon a solid basis. Real estate has of course increased in value, and business has been steady and prosperous. Business blocks and private residences have gone up and the factories have increased their capacities, enlarged their fields of operation and given employment to many additional hands. In this way the development of the Delaware county gas field and the growth of Muncie continued from November 1886 until August 12, 1891, when companies were organized insert image WILLIAM M. MARSH, Executive Com. and purchased lands adjoining the city; individuals and firms made investments, . . . [illegible text] . . . were brought in from adjoining States and counties, some coming from Maine, New York and New Jersey; but the location of factories to make the lands valuable for building lots was not satisfactory, although some very good factories were located – notable, Over’s Maring & Hart’s, Hemingray’s and the Muncie glass factories, the Nail mill, Pulp mill and a few others of more or less importance. The trouble appeared to be that each company or individual wanted the prospector to locate on his particular land, buy his particu- insert image ABBOTT L. JOHNS, Executive Com. lar lot, or not come to Muncie. This was not satisfactory to the people and the dealers in real estate who after two years’ work along this line became satisfied that it was not to their interest nor that of the city to continue this state of affairs, and by common consent a change was made. A meeting was called to determine what was best to do. On the evening above stated, August 12, 1891, a number of the leading business men, real estate dealers and capitalists attended the meeting and it was finally agreed that the scheme to raise a fund of $200,000 to be used in building up the city should be undertaken. A committee insert image GEORGE KIRBY. was appointed to draft articles of incorporation and to name the association which was called THE CITIZENS’ ENTERPRISE COMPANY. The object of the association as set forth was to promote and aid the growth and prosperity of the city of Muncie and Delaware county; to locate, establish and assist in carrying on all kinds of manufacturing business &c. The capital stock was fixed at $200,000, divided into shares of $25.00 each non-assessable and no liabilities to accrue insert image FRANK LEON. beyond the face value of the stock. The term of existence of the company was fixed at five years and when the “capital stock has been fully invested in and for the purpose as mentioned the Board of Directors, who are named in the article of the association for the first year, shall proceed to the liquidation and winding up of the affairs of the company.” A public meeting was held in the opera house. The plan or organization was explained, fully discussed and universally approved. A soliciting committee composed of twenty-one men was appointed, and the plan adopted was to ask each and every property holder for a subscription that had been estimated as necessary to raise the fund and others for such amounts as prospective business, benefits would indicate as reasonable. Every citizen of Muncie, and ever person owning property in or adjacent to the city was to be asked for a specific amount.

Here was a well directed effort that it was acknowledged by every one if successful would result in building up the city and in making it one of the greatest manufacturing towns in Indiana. No one objected to the plan of management or to the managers. The great obstacle was the continued expression of doubt as to success in raising the required insert image CHARLES H. CHURCH. amount, as it was provided on the subscription papers that the full amount in good and valid subscriptions must be obtained before an portion of it was valid or collectable.   The committee worked almost continuously through the day, met and reported progress in the evening, and started out again the next day. Some became discouraged but no one abandoned the field. Men and women of all professions, politics and creeds were united in the work of accomplishing something that no other town in Indians had ever undertaken, and if successful Muncie’s future was assured.

From August 12 to October 31 the work was kept up. Meetings insert image JACOB H. WYSOR. were held that for earnestness and enthusiasm have never been surpassed. Parties who had not subscribed were induced to come to the meetings and in rare instance did they leave until their names appeared on the subscription paper. Others had not subscribed the full estimate and declared that not another dollar would they subscribe. In almost every case they came up to the secretary’s desk and subscribed the full estimate. Citizens who had stated out with enthusiasm when the work began and subscribed the full amount . . . [illegible text] . . . when at a public meeting Mr. Geo. Y. McCulloch, the Secretary, who had been a firm believer in the success of the enterprise and who was the prominent factor in not only managing the work at his offices but the work outside announced that telegrams had been received from parties owning property in and near Muncie authorizing subscriptions that the committee had been quite unsuccessful during the day in securing large subscriptions and that insert image