Whitely Town, Indiana was founded as its own city in the early 1890s by wealthy man from Ohio named William Needham Whitely, who was known at the time as a great inventor and “the Reaper King.” He envisioned that this place would become one of the major centers of industry in Indiana. He chose this location during the “gas boom era” during which there were plentiful and cheap natural gas fields in east central Indiana. Drilling for wells in Delaware County was fast and furious, but there wasn’t enough infrastructure to support the numbers of incoming workers from Ohio, Kentucky, and New York.
William, along with his brothers Burt and Amos ultimately chose Muncie on the advice of new Muncie resident and friend from Ohio, George F. McCulloch. McCulloch, for whom “Woods Park” was renamed, helped orchestrate a great business offer and the Whitelys bought 1200 acres of the Wysor tract that was newly available and started to build Whitely Town. The centerpiece was the William N. Whitely Harvesting Machine Company, which was built on the grounds that are now home to East Central Recycling. Soon, a new railroad was built across the White River. Later came the Whitely Inn, White Stables, Whitely Steel Co, Whitely Gas Co, Whitely Bakery, Whitely Public School (what is now Shaffer Chapel), Whitely Iron and Casting Co, Whitely Malleable Castings, Whitely Land Co, Whitely Tin Shop, and more.
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