The City of Westfield, Indiana

Westfield is a thriving community with a rich heritage

Rhodes Family Incident


At the north entrance to Asa Bales Park, on Hoover Street, you will find the Rhodes Family Historic Marker, telling one of Westfield's historic stories. In 1837, an enslaved family of three escaped from Missouri, and after their escape took the family name "Rhodes". The Rhodes family settled six miles north of Westfield, near Robert's Settlement, an area founded by free black families, in 1839. In 1844, their former owner Singleton Vaughn arrived at their home to claim them, but the Rhodes family resisted until neighbors arrived. Vaughn agreed to take the family to Noblesville for trial. En route, a crowd stopped Vaughn, demanding that the family be taken to Westfield. Urged by the crowd, the driver of the wagon carrying the Rhodes family sped to Westfield, and the family escaped before the wagon reached town. Vaughn sued members of the crowd for interfering with his right to reclaim slaves. In Vaughn v. Williams (1845), the jury found the defendants not guilty, finding that the Rhodes family had been freed when a previous owner moved them to Illinois, a free state.

For more detailed information about the Rhodes Family, check out this article written by Hamilton County Historian, David Heighway.