History & Timeline

From Wood-Jacketed Tins To Aerospace

Five brothers founded Ball in 1880 with a $200 loan from their Uncle George. In the beginning, they made wood-jacketed tin cans for products like paint and kerosene, but soon expanded their offerings to glass- and tin-jacketed containers. In 1884, the brothers began making glass home-canning jars, the product that established Ball as a household name. The brothers—Edmund, Frank, George, Lucius and William—moved the company from Buffalo, New York, to Muncie, Indiana, in 1887 to take advantage of abundant natural gas reserves essential to making glass.

Ball grew rapidly in the ensuing decade and has been in more than 45 businesses since its founding. Ball no longer manufactures the ubiquitous canning jars, but we’ve expanded and grown into a worldwide metal packaging company that makes billions of recyclable metal containers, and a unique aerospace business that designs one-of-a-kind solutions to answer scientific and technical challenges. We manufacture on four continents and we’re based in Broomfield, Colorado. For a more detailed journey through Ball’s successes, visit our timeline.

The Ball Family

The Ball Family becomes a household name in the U.S.

Mr. Ball was a farmer, inventor, and respected citizen who instilled confidence in his sons and assured them that they would succeed in whatever they undertook. Mrs. Ball, a schoolteacher, gave her children love, inspiration, and direction. She urged them to go into business together. The five Ball brothers established a company in 1880 that would go on to become an international success story. Each of the brothers contributed unique talents and expertise to their venture.
  • Lucius Styles Ball (1814-1878) and Maria Polly Bingham Ball (1822-1892) had six sons and two daughters:
  • Lucina Amelia (1847-1901); Lucius Lorenzo (1850-1932); William Charles (1852-1921);
  • Edmund Burke (1855-1925); Frank Clayton (1857-1943); Mary Frances (1860-1926);
  • George Alexander (1862-1955); and Clinton Harvey (1867-1869).
  • The family was raised in eastern Ohio, in Grand Island on the Niagara River, and on the shore of Lake Canandaigua, New York.

Edmund B. Ball - 1855-1925
Edmund borrowed $200 from his Uncle George to buy the Wooden Jacket Can Co., the forerunner of what would become Ball Corporation. He served as secretary and treasurer of the incorporated Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company. Ed was well liked by plant employees, who once presented him with a gold pocket watch in appreciation for his efforts. Ed was known for his humanitarian strengths, although he preferred to stay in the background of his many community affairs. It was his wish that the Ball Brothers Foundation be organized, and from his estate came its original funding. The foundation's first major project, Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, was completed four years after his death. His son, Edmund F. Ball, went on to serve the company as chairman, president, and CEO for 18 years.

Frank C. Ball - 1857-1943
An early salesman for the Wooden Jacket Can Co., Frank was responsible for moving the family from Buffalo, N.Y., to Muncie, Ind., in 1887. Frank served as the first company president, and remained in that capacity for 63 years.

George A. Ball - 1862-1955
During his long and active lifetime, George served the company as bookkeeper, secretary, treasurer, vice president, president, and board chairman. He participated in the company's evolution from kerosene cans and fruit jars to the threshold of the space age. He served on the boards of numerous organizations including Borg-Warner Corporation, Nickel Plate Railroad, various banks, Indiana University, Ball State Teachers College (today, Ball State University) and Ball Memorial Hospital. In 1935, he became the owner of a railroad empire. He was also involved in politics, and was a Republican national committeeman from Indiana for several years.

Lucius L. Ball - 1850-1932
Lucius fulfilled his lifelong ambition (after he had seen to it that his younger brothers and sisters were educated and established) to study and become a physician at the age of 40. He was a quiet, thoughtful, compassionate man with a shy sense of humor. In addition to his private medical practice, he served as medical adviser for the Western Reserve Life Insurance Company (then located in Muncie, Ind.).

William C. Ball - 1852-1921
William had a reputation as being a tremendously effective salesman. He served the company as a salesman and its secretary until his death at age 69.


The Ball brothers' founding spirit lives on today in everything from our metal beverage packaging to our cutting-edge aerospace division. Ball's approach has always been “We Can!” and in the 21st century, we remain true to our roots.

Below you’ll find highlights from our last 50 years and if you’re interested, you can download our popular History of Ball poster for a fun review of our century-plus of innovation.

Ball completes acquisition of Rexam PLC, reshaping the beverage packaging industry.
Ball acquires two Sonoco plants in Canton, Ohio, USA, adding easy-open ends to our metal food packaging portfolio.
Ball acquires Aerocan S.A.S., a leading supplier of aluminum aerosol cans and bottles in Europe.
Ball acquires Neuman Aluminum, the leading North American manufacturer of aluminum slugs used to make extruded aerosol cans, beverage bottles, aluminum collapsible tubes, and technical impact extrusions; and Aerocan S.A.S., a leading supplier of aluminum aerosol cans and bottles in Europe. Ball becomes the largest supplier of aluminum slugs in the world.
Ball acquires four metal beverage can plants from AB InBev, making Ball the largest supplier of beverage cans in the world.
Ball acquires U.S. Can, a U.S.-based aerosol and specialty metal packaging company, and merges it with Ball’s metal food-packaging operations to form the metal food and household products packaging division.
Ball acquires Schmalbach-Lubeca AG, the German-based metal-can beverage company, and creates Ball Packaging Europe, boosting Ball’s beverage can sales by more than $1 billion.
Ball acquires the metal-container beverage assets of Reynolds Metals Company, making Ball the largest supplier of metal beverage cans in North America, and one of the largest in the world.
Ball Corporate headquarters relocated from Muncie, Ind., to Broomfield, Colo.
Ball acquires M.C. Packaging Ltd. in China. MCP, combined with Ball’s FTB Packaging Ltd. joint venture in China, makes Ball the largest supplier of cans in that nation.
Ball-Foster Glass Container Co. creates a joint-venture glass company with Group Saint Gobain, in September 1995. Ball sells its remaining interest in Ball-Foster to Group Saint Gobain in 1996 and exits the glass business.
Ball’s aerospace business converts to a wholly owned subsidiary, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Broomfield, Colorado.
Ball acquires Heekin Can, Inc. Heekin is the largest regional manufacturer of metal food containers in the U.S. prior to the acquisition. Combined with Ball Packaging Products Canada, Inc.’s six plants, the eleven former Heekin plants make Ball the third-largest producer of metal food-and-aerosol cans in the North American market.


Ball listed on New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol "BLL".
Company name changed to Ball Corporation.
Ball acquires the Jeffco Manufacturing Company in Denver and forms metal beverage container operations.
Ball forms the Ball Brothers Research Corporation. Known today as Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., the corporation produces space systems engineering products, telecommunications technology, and electro-optics and cryogenics materials for government and commercial customers.
Company name changes to Ball Brothers Company.
Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company was incorporated.
Frank and Edmund Ball start the Wooden Jacketed Can Company in Buffalo, New York.