5/27/11

BALL-BAND shoes from Mishawaka


If you grew up in the 1950s you probably remember Keds, Converse, and maybe PF Flyers. Ball-Band? Never heard of them.

I have no memory of these shoes made by the Mishawaka Rubber & Woolen Mfg. Co. in Mishawaka, Indiana.

This ad is from the July-August 1951 Archie comic. It amazes me how many of the ads in this one comic are comics themselves. I did find a series of these comic ads online at ebay, but no actual information about how the idea came about or if they had running characters.


Ball-Band comic ad_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.


The following is a little history of the Mishawaka Rubber & Woolen Mfg. Co. once located at 312 N. Hill St., Mishawaka, Indiana.
(Courtesy of the Mishawaka-Penn Public Library historical archives)

In 1867 Jacob Beiger puchased a small wooden mill built in 1838 near the dam and Mishawaka Woolen Manufacturing Company was born. Incorporated in 1874, the company produced red flannel boots. Adolphus Eberhart and Martin Beiger invented All Knit Boots in 1886. They were made with a black band around the top and when a red ball was later added the Ball Band trademark resulted.


Stakes were driven for the first rubber-making plant in 1897. In 1899 the company was authorized to build a new four-story warehouse. More improvements were added after 1900 because of an increase in sales. After Martin Beiger’s death in 1903, a 30-man syndicate took control of the company. Later, Mishawaka Woolen Company became a subsidiary of U.S. Rubber.


In 1921 a five-story storage and warehouse building designed by Albert Kahn was erected. The name of the company was changed to Mishawaka Rubber and Woolen Manufacturing Company in 1923, and to Uniroyal, Inc. in 1967. All footwear manufactured by Mishawaka Rubber Company was discontinued in 1969, and, due largely to the price pressures from foreign competition, Mishawaka Rubber Company was dissolved. Uniroyal closed after filing bankruptcy on April 1, 1997. All the buildings were demolished/imploded a few years later. Today, the site is home to the C. Beutter Riverfront Park. (SOURCE: Goldstein, Deborah May. Made in South Bend/Mishawaka. Discovery Hall Museum, 1980.

21 comments:

  1. I miss this company......im only 23 but i own a pair of Ball Band shoes. Iv looked everywhere for new Ball Band shoes. Iv owned the same pair for about 4 years. They still look fresh & are still very comfy lol.

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  2. Happy hunting! I hope you find another pair.

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  3. Anonymous12/29/2011

    We found a toolbox style box for Mishawaka co. trademark and everything on it, we would like to date it. It has the red ball band trademark on it, and a signature on it. any ideas?? it looks almost as old as the 1800's and its wooden, so it may be possible, right?

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  4. I would guess it is possible. Not being an expert on anything all I can do is post your comment and hope in time someone responds to your question. Good luck. And if it is authentic, what a great find.

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    1. Anonymous1/20/2012

      I also picked up a big box (probably 4 feet by 2 feet) at a thrift sale this summer. It has the same markings with the ball and text and looks like it is pretty darn old. It is so pretty!! It is now the bench in my kitchen. Also wondering how old this is and now that i've cleaned and waxed (oops!) if it has any value!

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  5. Anonymous12/12/2012

    The sport shoes, particularly the high top athletic shoes were called RED BALL JETS.
    Not Ball Band, that was the company trade mark.

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    1. My mother worked at Ball Band for 46 years, retiring in 1990. My father worked there 42 years. Much of my childhood was spent at factory events -- for quite some time in factory areas such as the shoe room where employees and families could buy shoes, boots, fabric, naugahyde and other things as factory seconds. In the 60's, you could get a good pair of Red Ball Jets or Keds for 25 cents a pair. (You're right that the trade mark was Ball Band -- look for the band with a red ball on it!)

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    2. I love hearing all of these stories about the company and the people who worked there. It's amazing how a little piece of old paper can give back so much. Thank you Loret for your comment!

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  6. Linda Barker Schwarzlose2/20/2013

    My Mother and several Aunts worked at Ball Band probly in the early '40's during World War II and even later after the War. As I remeber they all thought highly of their jobs there. Lots of friends were made there-lifetime friends !

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    1. That's nice to hear that a company would be well thought of by its employees. Glad you shared the memories.

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  7. Anonymous9/30/2013

    I have a pair of men's Ball Band boots with 4 buckles. A date is stamped inside, but can't make it all out. Possibly December 1, 1932 0r 1942. Is this the manufacture date of these boots? If so, are they worth anything? They're in great shape!

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    1. I have no idea. The extent of my knowledge is in this post. But how great is it to have such an old pair?

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  8. Anonymous4/30/2014

    Many of my family members on both sides worked for this company. I grew up with these shoes! My Grandfather Charles Lee Glaes, was on the Board of Directors. My Father James Alan Glaes, worked in Management as well My Mother Doris Lee (Harness) was a line supervisor and My Aunt and Uncle her bros and sis worked there as well. My Aunt, worked in fuel cells during the war..... Sandra Lee Glaes

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    1. Glad to add another comment for someone with personal knowledge of the company. I've been amazed at how many people remember the company so fondly.

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  9. Anonymous11/02/2014

    Me and my brother ( Walt Harmon) worked the night shift in Fuel Cells back in the 50,s, My dad was a supervisor in the soles department

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    1. That's interesting that you found this post. I bet you have some good stories to tell about your days there.

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  10. Paul V. Smith11/13/2014

    My Dad, Howard H. Smith was a travelling salesman for Mishawka, starting in 1934. HIs territories took him from his start in Roanoke, VA (where I was born in '35) to Washington, PA and then to Buffalo, NY where we were when WWII broke out. The salesmen were called into the plant to work for the war effort, and after quite a few months he found housing for us where we joined him in 1943 to live in South Bend, IN. He left his employment with Mishawaka some time in early 1944 and we relocated to my parent's home town in Zanesville, OH where my parents lived till they died. One of the few memories I have of our time in Indiana is that he brought home scraps of rubber from work and I was the only kid in the neighborhood who had a regular supply of slingshots!

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    1. What wonderful memories. Love about the slingshots. Thrilled you posted this.

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  11. I just found a pair of
    Ball band all wool moth proof boots!
    They are from 1879! And look really cool!
    The barn was built in 1847.

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    1. That's amazing. If you want to share a photo I'd be happy to post it with this piece.

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