Delaware County, Indiana

Discover Delaware County - an east central Indiana community of opportunity

Contact Us

County Building
100 W Main St
Muncie, IN 47305
Get Directions

In this Category

More Information

History of Delaware County and Muncie, Indiana

Delaware County History

Delaware County was formed in 1827. It was named for the Delaware, a Native American people who then still inhabited the area. The Delaware were moved to new lands west of the Mississippi River in the 1840s. The county was once home to The Prophet, a brother of Tecumseh who instigated a major Indian uprising in 1811. David Conner was the first white settler, arriving in the early 1810s.

Following the American Civil War the county experienced an economic boom caused by the discovery of natural gas, which spurred rapid industrial growth in the surrounding area.

The first discovery of natural gas in Indiana occurred in 1876 in the town of Eaton. A company was drilling in search of coal, and when they had reaching a depth of six-hundred feet, there was a loud noise and foul smelling fumes began coming from the well. After a brief investigation, it was decided they had breached the ceiling of Hell, and the hole was quickly filled in. In 1884, when natural gas was discovered in nearby Ohio, people recalled the incident. They returned to the spot and opened Indiana's first natural gas well. The gas was so abundant and strong that when the well was lit, the flames could be see from Muncie.

Geography
According to the 2010 census, the county has a total area of 395.91 square miles (1,025.4 km2), of which 392.12 square miles (1,015.6 km2) (or 99.04%) is land and 3.78 square miles (9.8 km2) (or 0.95%) is water. The county is drained by White and Mississinewa rivers. The surface is level, and the soil fertile.

Climate and Weather
In recent years, average temperatures in Muncie have ranged from a low of 16 °F (−9 °C) in January to a high of 85 °F (29 °C) in July, although a record low of −29 °F (−34 °C) was recorded in January 1994 and a record high of 102 °F (39 °C) was recorded in June 1988. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 2.06 inches (52 mm) in January to 4.28 inches (109 mm) in June.

Government
The county government is a constitutional body, and is granted specific powers by the Constitution of Indiana, and by the Indiana Code.

County Council: The county council is the legislative branch of the county government and controls all the spending and revenue collection in the county. Representatives are elected from county districts. The council members serve four-year terms. They are responsible for setting salaries, the annual budget, and special spending. The council also has limited authority to impose local taxes, in the form of an income and property tax that is subject to state level approval, excise taxes, and service taxes.

Board of Commissioners: The executive body of the county is made of a board of commissioners. The commissioners are elected county-wide, in staggered terms, and each serves a four-year term. One of the commissioners, typically the most senior, serves as president. The commissioners are charged with executing the acts legislated by the council, collecting revenue, and managing the day-to-day functions of the county government.

Court: The county maintains a small claims court that can handle some civil cases. The judge on the court is elected to a term of four years and must be a member of the Indiana Bar Association. The judge is assisted by a constable who is also elected to a four-year term. In some cases, court decisions can be appealed to the state levelcircuit court.

County Officials: The county has several other elected offices, including sheriff, coroner, auditor, treasurer, recorder, surveyor, and circuit court clerk. Each of these elected officers serves a term of four years and oversees a different part of county government. Members elected to county government positions are required to declare party affiliations and to be residents of the county.

Delaware County is part of Indiana's 6th congressional district; Indiana Senate district 26; and Indiana House of Representatives districts 33, 34 and 35.

Demographics
As of the census of 2000, there were 118,769 people, 47,131 households, and 29,692 families residing in the county. The population density was 302 people per square mile (117/km²). There were 51,032 housing units at an average density of 130 per square mile (50/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 90.73% White, 6.72% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.66% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.47% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. 1.10% of the population were Hispanic or Latinoof any race.

34.9% were of English ancestry, 20.9% were of German ancestry, and 9.8% were of Irish ancestry according to the 2010 American Community Survey.

There were 47,131 households out of which 27.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.50% were married couples living together, 10.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.00% were non-families. 28.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the county the population was spread out with 22.10% under the age of 18, 16.90% from 18 to 24, 25.60% from 25 to 44, 21.90% from 45 to 64, and 13.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 92.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,659, and the median income for a family was $45,394. Males had a median income of $36,155 versus $23,268 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,233. About 9.00% of families and 15.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.70% of those under age 18 and 8.00% of those age 65 or over.


 

City of Muncie History

Muncie is a city in Center Township and the county seat of Delaware County in east central Indiana. As of the2010 Census, the city's population was 70,085. It is the principal city of the Muncie, Indiana, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 118,769.

Muncie is the home of Ball State University and the Ball Corporation (1888–1998) and the birthplace of the comic stripGarfield. Thanks to the Middletown studies first conducted in the 1920s, it is said to be one of the most studied U.S. cities of its size.

The area was first settled in the 1770s by the Lenape people, who had been transported from their tribal lands in the Mid-Atlantic region (all of New Jersey plus southeastern New York, eastern Pennsylvania, and northern Delaware) to Ohio and eastern Indiana. They founded several towns along the White River including Munsee Town (according to historical map of "The Indians" by Clark Ray), near the site of present-day Muncie.

In 1818, the tribes were forced to cede this land to the federal government and move farther west. The area was opened to white settlers two years later.

The city of Muncie was incorporated in 1865. Contrary to popular legend, the city is not named after a mythological Chief Munsee; it was actually named after Munsee Town, the white settlers' name for the Indian village on the site, "Munsee" meaning a member of the Lenape people or one of their languages.

Muncie was lightly disguised as "Middletown" by a team of sociologists, led by Robert and Helen Lynd, who were only the first to conduct a series of studies in Muncie; considered a typical Middle-American community; in their case, a study funded by the Rockefeller Institute of Social and Religious Research. In 1929, the Lynds published Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture. They returned to re-observe the community during the Depression and published Middletown in Transition: A Study in Cultural Conflicts (1937). Later in the century, the National Science Foundation funded a third major study that resulted in two books by Theodore Caplow, Middletown Families (1982) and All Faithful People (1983). Caplow returned in 1998 to begin another study, Middletown IV, which became part of a PBS Documentary entitled "The First Measured Century," released in December 2000. The Ball State Center for Middletown Studies continues to survey and analyze social change in Muncie. An enormous database of the Middletown surveys conducted between 1978 and 1997 is available online from ARDA, American Religion Data Archive. Due to the extensive information collected from the Middletown studies over the last century, Muncie is said to be one of the most studied cities of its size in the United States

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 27.39 square miles (70.9 km2), of which 27.20 square miles (70.4 km2) (or 99.31%) is land and 0.19 square miles (0.49 km2) (or 0.69%) is water.

From the late 19th century, Muncie's economic backbone has been industry, primarily manufacturing.

The Indiana Gas Boom of the 1880s drew many factories to the region. The Ball Brothers moved their glass factory from Buffalo to Muncie, beginning glass production there on March 1, 1888.[14] This relationship with Muncie ended 110 years later, when the Ball Corporation moved its corporate headquarters to Broomfield, Colorado, in 1998.

Other notable manufacturers with plants in the city have included BorgWarner, The Broderick Company (former division of Harsco), Dayton-Walther Corporation, Delco Remy,General Motors (New Venture Gear), Hemingray Glass Company, Indiana Steel and Wire, and Westinghouse. Most of these factories closed or moved during a tumultuous period for the city beginning in the 1970s. From 2001 to 2011, thousands of jobs were lost.  Many smaller, non-unionized, manufacturing businesses have survived this transition, such as Maxon Corporation (now Honeywell), Duffy Tool (now North American Stamping), Reber Machine & Tool, Magna Powertrain, and a dozen or so other shops which employ anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred workers. In 2009, Muncie became the United States headquarters for Brevini Wind, an Italian-based company that manufactures gearboxes for wind turbines.  In 2011, locomotive maker Progress Rail Services (a subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc.) opened in the former Westinghouse facility, which had been vacant since 1998.

The first decade of the 21st century saw a cultural shift toward local businesses and economic empowerment, boosted by the Muncie Downtown Development Partnership and the residents, patrons, and business owners of the downtown community. In 2007, Muncie was rated the most affordable college town in America by real estate company Coldwell Banker. In 2014, Forbes ranked Muncie 34th among small places for business and careers, and 20th for cost of doing business.

 


Culture
 

The David Owsley Museum of Art collection, which includes over 11,000 works, has been in the Fine Arts Building on the Ball State University campus since 1935. Downtown in the Horizon Convention Center, the Muncie Children's Museum offers 24,000 square feet of exhibition space.

Many of the city's largest performing arts center belong to Ball State, including the 3,581-seat Emens Auditorium, 600-seat Sursa Performance Hall, and 410-seat University Theatre. Downtown performing arts spaces include the Muncie Civic Theatre and Canan Commons, an outdoor amphitheater and greenspace that opened in 2011. Muncie Ballet and the Muncie Symphony Orchestra are prominent in the city's arts community.

Minnetrista Cultural Center, just north of downtown along the White River, is a museum featuring exhibits and programs focusing on nature, East Central Indiana history, and art. The 40-acre (160,000 m2) campus includes historic homes once owned by the Ball family, themed gardens, outdoor sculptures, and a portion of the White River Greenway. Also on the Ball State campus is an 18-acre (7.3-ha) arboretum, Christy Woods, home to three greenhouses and the Wheeler Orchid Collection and Species Bank.

The longest rail trail project in Indiana, the Cardinal Greenway, stretches 60 miles (97 km) from Richmond to Marion. Designated a National Recreation Trail in 2003, it is part of the American Discovery Trail.

Muncie's music scene has been home to such acts as Brazil, Everything, Now! and Archer Avenue (ex-Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s). Muncie also hosts several local music festivals, including Muncie Gras and Muncie MusicFest. Muncie has a large network of independent art galleries and craft beer enthusiasts.

Sports

 
A Ball State Cardinals football game at Scheumann Stadium in 2008.

Muncie is home to the NCAA Division I Ball State Cardinals which is a member of the Mid-American Conference. Notable sports include football (played at Scheumann Stadium), men's basketball (played at John E. Worthen Arena), and baseball (played at Ball Diamond).

Professionally, Muncie was once home to the Muncie Flyers of the National Football League (NFL). Also known as the Congerville Flyers, the team played professional football from 1905 to 1925 and were one of the 11 charter members of the NFL, playing in the league from 1920 to 1924. Not to be confused with the Muncie Flyers of the NFL, the city was also home to a minor league hockey team, the Muncie Flyers of the International Hockey League for a single season (1948–1949).