FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Erin Murphy
Contact: Lisa Vielee
August 21, 2015
History Comes Alive at Voices from the Past, a Living History Walk
Westfield, IN - On September 11 and 12, 2015, Westfield Parks and Recreation will bring history to life with Voices from the Past, a 90-minute living history walk that features actors portraying the actual people who lived it. In seven all-new stories, participants will get a glimpse of the family behind the historic Westfield orphanage and meet one of the orphans, learn more about Westfield’s Underground Railroad, and follow the story of Roxie Stalker, a turn-of-the-century Westfield missionary to South Africa.
“Voices from the Past is one of the most interesting and entertaining events that Westfield offers,” says resident Teresa Otis Skelton. “I love the way it connects our rich historic past to the present Westfield that we know today. The interaction with the story tellers makes it educational as well as entertaining.”
Actors from Main Street Productions have donated their time and talents to share seven historical moments from Westfield’s past as researched by the Westfield Washington Historical Society and the Hamilton County East Library. Tours will travel through historical moments with early Westfield settlers in 1843 and a stop along the Underground Railroad in the 1850s to a visit with an African missionary in 1921 and a chance to meet the “Merchant Policeman” in 2008. (Descriptions of all seven stops on the tour are attached.)
Voices from the Past will be held on Friday, September 11, from 5 – 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, September 12, from 1 – 2:30 p.m. and 5 – 6:30 p.m. Tours begin every 10 minutes from Asa Bales Park East Entrance, 211 N. Union Street. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth age 12 and older. Children under 12 are free.
Tickets can be purchased online or in-person at the Westfield City Services Center, 2728 E. 171st Street, Westfield, Indiana.
2015 Voices from the Past
Asa Bales Park:
Stop #1: Sacred Midnight Work (1850s)
Mary Katherine and her husband George Washington Horton, the town butcher, were avid abolitionists. To further the progressive cause, the Hortons offered their home as a safe haven to slaves running to freedom on the Underground Railroad. The Horton home was one of eight “stops” on the Underground Railroad in Westfield.
Stop #2: The Westfield Orphanage (1891)
Edward and Elizabeth Ellis were married shortly after migrating to America. Soon after their wedding, Edward joined the Union army and Elizabeth became a nurse caring for many soldiers during the war. After her husband’s death, Elizabeth and her son Robert moved to Westfield where she applied her caring instincts to the founding of the Westfield Orphanage.
Stop #3: A Sister’s Visit (1862)
Eunice and her husband, John Doan, avid Quakers, moved to Indiana because they wanted their seven children to be brought up in a place where slavery was not tolerated. In this vignette, Eunice shares her distress over her son’s participation in the Civil War as she and her sister, Mary, share stories of family sorrows and joy.
Old Friends Cemetery Park:
Stop #4: A “Little Piece of Goodness” (1843)
As a young couple in their first year of marriage, David and Elvira Stalker had high hopes for themselves and their descendants. Using the $640 of silver David had saved for years, the Stalker couple bought section 20 of the new Indiana township, Westfield.
Stop #5: Letters from the Mission Field (1896)
Flossie Stanbrough Roberts served a missionary to Bantanga, Cameroon, at the turn of the century. During her time in Africa, she befriended and became a surrogate mother to an orphaned villager named Piga. In this vignette, guests will get a glimpse of the mission field through Aunt Flossie’s letter to 11-year-old Westfield resident Roxie Stalker.
Stop #6: “Manga Manene” (Across the Big Sea) (1921)
At this stop on the tour, guests will meet the adult Roxie Stalker, who left the comforts of her Westfield home to become a missionary in South Africa. Much like her Aunt Flossie, Roxie became a surrogate mother to a villager named Nandi, a young girl who considered the Stalkers to be family.
Stop #7: The Merchant Policeman (2008)
One of the orphans from the Westfield Orphanage, Frank “Hank” West had quite an impact on the town, including Westfield beauty shop owner, Camilla Axelrod, who befriended and provided a room for Hank in the back of her business. Their heated, but friendly, arguments were legendary among Westfield residents. At this last tour stop, Camilla and Hank reflect on Hank’s life and contributions.