By Kathleen Angelone
“A History of Westfield, Indiana: The Promise of the Land,” by Tom Rumer, is the latest in the popular local history books published by The History Press. At first I didn’t think this book about the suburb north of Indianapolis would interest me. But I was wrong.
A small group of Quaker activists moved from North Carolina to Westfield in 1831 to protest slavery. They left fairly comfortable homes, friends and family to move north, and many had never experienced snow before. These settlers had true courage. They didn’t just talk, they walked the walk by working in the abolition movement and providing stations along the Underground Railroad – a network of secret routes and safe houses used by runaway slaves to escape to free states – and working for the rights of recently emancipated slaves.
The book’s theme focuses on the promise of the land. The author discusses the promise through the ages of American settlement and growth in the area. The settlers promised freedom for African-Americans, education for children, religious tolerance, homes for orphans and opportunities for business.
As in all History Press books, the pictures and other illustrations are worth the price of the book. My favorite is a two-page spread of a typical hog-butchering scene. The images of the buildings, barnyard, trees, clothing and expressions of the observers are priceless.
Rumer will be one of the featured authors at a local history book fair from 2-4 Saturday at Bookmamas, 9 S. Johnson Ave., near East Washington Street and Ritter Avenue. Other authors and their books include Southsider Voice correspondent Fred Cavinder, “Forgotten Hoosiers” and “Historic Indianapolis Crimes”; Nelson Price, “Indiana Legends” and “Indianapolis Then and Now”; Julie Young, “Famous Faces of WTTV Channel 4” and “The CYO in Central Indiana”); Forrest Bowman Jr., “Sylvia: The Likens Trial”; and David Williams, “Indianapolis Jazz.”