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Ball Band (Mishawaka Woolen) History

In 1898, three Eberharts and two Studebakers sat on the board of the Mishawaka Woolen Company. Frederick George Eberhart, who commissioned the Eberhart Mansion, was Superintendant at the time and is pictured on the right.

Directors of Mishwaka Woolen Company

Ball Band Factory

From an article in the Mishawaka Penn Harris Public Library files:

Ball Band History Parallels Story of Mishawaka Growth

"What Mishawaka Makes, Makes Mishawaka"


From a small woolen mill employing about 25 persons and established in, 1838, the Mishawaka Rubber and Woolen Manufacturing company has grown to a gigantic plant employing 5,000 and manufacturing about 12, different products in 1937.

The history of the plant is the history of Mishawaka. The small woolen mill was established four years after the town was founded. In 1867 the mill was purchased by Jacob Beiger and his son, Martin, but not until 1896 did the company begin to produce on a large scale. Between '67 and '86, blankets and felt boots were its only products.

Invention of the knit boot in 1886 by Martin Beiger and Adolphus Eberhart marked the beginning of large scale production. The manufacture of the new boots brought with it the official trademark of the company.

How Trademark Began

These boots were made with a black band around the top, while the red ball was added to the band later. In 1901 the red ball on the black bard was registered as the official trademark of the company.

In 1889, lumbermen's long socks were added to the list of products and Ball Band rubber shoes were first manufactured in February, 1898. Light rubbers were added in 1916, leather work shoes in 1917 and canvas sport shoes in 1922.

Now the largest single source of automobile mats in the world, the company developed the improved auto mat in 1933. After several years of experiment, Mishawaka cushions, a cellular rubber product for upholstery, cushions, mattresses, etc., was introduced in 1935.

The crude rubber is obtained from the sap of rubber trees in the natural rubber forests of South America, Asia and Africa, and the cultivated rubber orchards of Cey lon, Sumatra and the Malayan states.

Raincoats, the only United States Rubber company product made here, were first manufactured in 1933 by the local plant.

The demand for the company's products caused production in creases and created a need for more working space. Since the purchase of the old woolen mill in 1867 by Mr. Beiger and his son, the company has made four additions.

The additions were made through purchases of buildings in 1888 and 1898, but a $350,000 light rubber plant was built in 1915 and '16. The half million dollar warehouse was built in 1922 and covers five acres of floor space.. The total floor space of the company covers about 43 acres.

"Ball Band" products are sold by about 200 salesmen to more than 60,000 retailers and jobbers in export trade. . About 10,000,000 persons wear some product of the company.

Adolphus Eberhart, who partnered with Martin Beiger to launch Mishawaka Woolen's explosive growth, was the father of twelve children, including Frederick George Eberhart. F.G. Eberhart held a variety of positions in the firm as it evolved, culminating as its Chairman.

Ball Band postcard