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Community History

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Following the famous Middletown studies conducted in the 1920s and 1930s by sociologists Robert and Helen Lynd, Muncie emerged as one of the most studied communities in the world. Still today, researchers from across the globe give Muncie extra attention as “America’s Hometown.”

The Middletown study came nearly a century after Muncie got its start as a trading post founded by Goldsmith Gilbert. Gilbert, a New York native, settled along the White River in the mid-1820s, marking the beginning of a long history in Delaware County.

Delaware County, aptly named from the Delaware Tribe of Indians, was officially formed in 1827 with Munseetown as its county seat. The name was later shortened to Muncie in 1845 and incorporated in 1865, home then to only 3,000 people.

The Ball family moved to Muncie in the 1880s, establishing a company that would become a household name. Each of the five Ball brothers contributed unique talents and expertise to the successful venture, Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company. The brothers later established the Ball Brothers Foundation, the first major project of which was Ball Memorial Hospital, completed in 1929. Their legacy is visible everywhere in Muncie-Delaware County, including in Ball State University.

Muncie’s population has grown to 62,000 with an additional 53,000 living in the remainder of the county. Gilbert’s trading post certainly surpassed his expectations as Muncie-Delaware County has grown into a regional center for commerce, education and healthcare, attracting people from all over East Central Indiana and beyond. d

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