by Jessica Todd
December 12, 2023

Zionsville resident publishes book chronicling the town’s evolution

With 239 pages and more than 200 different stories, Zionsville resident David Ruffer’s book “Becoming Zionsville” is designed to teach residents the history of the town.

The book, sold on Amazon and at SullivanMunce Cultural Center at 225 W. Hawthorne St., is a collection of factual stories about the evolution of Zionsville.

“(The book) serves as a record of the days when the town had a population significantly smaller than that of today,” Ruffer said. “In that regard, it is (for) present and future residents so they will remember how we became the town we are today.”

A Hoosier Village resident, Ruffer, 87, has volunteered at SullivanMunce Cultural Center since 2007. He became concerned that the town’s history would soon be forgotten as Zionsville’s population grows.

“I have been engaged in Zionsville history, responding to people’s questions and writing bits of history for quite some time,” Ruffer said. “I think it’s important that people know where they came from, and a lot of people live in Zionsville. There are people who probably don’t know anything about what the town used to be, and I think that’s a shame.”

Ruffer said he could not find someone to write the archive, so he decided to do it himself.

“I read all of the minutes of (town) council meetings from the very first minutes, which are in the late 1870s to the minutes from 2022,” Ruffer said. “That formed the skeleton for (the story). I also read ordinances, reports, newspaper articles and other sources like census records.”

Ruffer finished the manuscript during the summer and used Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing to turn the book into a finished project.

“When the manuscript was finished, I had two people read it and offer suggestions,” Ruffer said. “Then I sent it to an Amazon publisher who gave suggestions and made it a better book.”

Although the book is finished, Ruffer said it will never truly be complete because history continues to unfold.

“At some point with a painting or a book, you just have to stop, because every time you turn around, there is something else you think you need to add,” Ruffer said. “I hope 20 years from now, someone updates my history because I’m 87 and probably won’t be around to do it. The record needs to be there.”

Ruffer has been a Hoosier Village resident for six years. He majored in biology, English and history as an undergraduate at Defiance College in Ohio and eventually earned a doctorate in animal behavior from the University of Oklahoma.

He operated a museum in Dayton, Ohio, for several years before moving to Zionsville with his wife, Marilyn, who died last year, to be closer to four of their six grandchildren.

“When we came (to Zionsville), SullivanMunce was the place for me,” Ruffer said. “I did all the cataloging of the SullivanMunce collection, was the executive director in 2012 and have done just about every job there is to do there.”

Ruffer said he envisions the book as a fundraiser for the cultural center, and all net proceeds benefit SullivanMunce for its supporting programs. He had a book signing Dec. 9 at the center.

According to Cynthia Young, executive director at SullivanMunce, Ruffer is a “respectful and philanthropic” person who has done a lot for the organization.

“(David) is an all around good person,” Young said. “He cataloged over 8,000 items for our historical collection and has written a lot of books and papers to sell at the center. He still volunteers to this day and I am very thankful for him.”

Ruffer is working on his next book, which will explore the history of Hoosier Village, a nonprofit life-plan community founded in 1952 that offers senior housing, freedom from the responsibilities of home maintenance and the security of an on-site continuum of care according to the organization.

“At the moment, I am interested in studying what causes small towns like Zionsville to be successful,” Ruffer said. “That’s what is in the back of my mind while I’m writing this history of Hoosier Village. I enjoy it because I live here and like to know where I live.”

Ruffer has also written a book about the history of Zionsville Christian Church.

“Other things I have written are printed and available at SullivanMunce, but I did not go through the publishing process with those,” Ruffer said. “I just wrote them, and they are spiral bound for people to buy if they’re interested.”

If nothing else, Ruffer wants Zionsville residents to know that he cares about the town’s history and wants to help people understand how it has evolved.

“I just like history and think it is important,” Ruffer said. “People need to know what kinds of influences affect how they grow. So, I attempted to put down a history of evolution. (Zionsville) is a great place to live a really good life.”

“Becoming Zionsville” will soon be available at Black Dog Books and FiveThirty Homes in Zionsville.

The book is available for Kindle for $6.99, as a paperback for $24.99 or as a hardcover for $32.99. To purchase “Becoming Zionsville,” visit

Zionsville resident publishes book chronicling the town’s evolution

Author Profile:

Name: David Ruffer

Residence: Zionsville

Spouse: “My wife Marilyn and I knew each other for 67 years before she passed away last year around Christmas time. I dedicated the book to her because it really wouldn’t have happened without her.”

Children: “I have three children. Two of them live in Zionsville and the other lives in Virginia.”

Grandchildren: “I have six grandchildren, four boys and two girls. They are probably the six greatest grandkids on the planet. They are all doing interesting things and I love to watch them learn and learn from them.”

Hobbies: “I love to read nonfiction books. I have probably read a dozen U.S. history books in the last year written by people who weren’t white males. It intrigues me how other people see our country.”