The life of Rollin "Doc" Bunch, the boss of Middletown

No Thumbnail Available
Buchanan, Thomas W.
Edmonds, Anthony O.
Issue Date
Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of History
Other Identifiers

This work deals with the life and, particularly, the political career of Dr. Rollin Bunch, a three-term mayor of Muncie, Indiana. There are several valid reasons why Bunch's life and career deserve a study. Simple chronology is a major reason. Bunch's first two terms were during the tumultuous World War I era, and his final administration occurred during the equally historic Depression of the 1930s.Another reason to pursue this study is that Bunch represents both the political bossism of the turn of the century and the idealism expressed by the New Deal. By employing old-fashioned power politics to obtain progressive and liberal goals, Bunch proved to be an innovative leader. His frequent legal problems, including several indictments and even a federal prison term, also make him an interesting case study.Primary data, which consists of sources not contaminated by the opinions and prejudices of others, will provide most documentation. Contemporary newspapers have been my main source. The newspapers most used in this study are two conservative, Republican daily papers, The Muncie Morning Star and The Muncie Evening Press. Two defunct weekly papers were also studied, The X-Ray and The Muncie Post Democrat. The X-Ray was a barely coherent anti-Semitic paper, whereas The Muncie Post Democrat was published by another Muncie mayor and bitter enemy of Bunch, George Dale. All four newspapers routinely vilified Bunch, which makes his substantial electoral success even more remarkable.Personal interviews were another major source. The main problem was finding people who could clearly recall the events of six to seven decades ago, not an easy task. Despite these inherent problems, documentation concerning Bunch was available from several sources.I believe this dissertation will add substantially to the body of work available concerning local histories generally, and Muncie and Delaware County particularly.