Gifts to the Colony 2014

The importance of Donations

Every year the Aurora Colony Historical adds artifacts to our museum collection through the generosity of donors.  As in years past, a significant number of the artifacts come from the descendants of Aurora Colony families.  Increasingly, however, our curatorial staff has been evaluating items that either come from some of the colony’s surrounding families who shared political, social and business ties on the French Prairie with the colony without becoming members of the colony themselves.  Also, in 2014 we accepted a few items from the post-colony era, and a few from well into the twentieth century.

Exhibits Encourage Donations

In 2014 we hosted a very successful exhibit titled “Rudimentary Studies and Tall Tales: Aurora Education from 1861 to 1961.”  This exhibit was particularly exciting because we made wonderful contacts with some of the students themselves.  Board member Bill Wettstein, for example, attended the Aurora school throughout the 1940’s and he gave oral interviews that provided priceless tidbits to our understanding of what schooling was like in the village some seventy years ago.  Edie Torgeson’s memoirs of attending school in the late 1920’s filled in more of the gaps and Gary Leiser, who graduated from the school in 1960, donated school papers and other materials. 

Nellie Meacham was the second teacher in the village after the death of Dr. Keil.  Her granddaughter Melissa Meacham Stewart, donated a chair and a coverlet that Nellie most likely acquired during her stint in Aurora in 1879.

Louise Hankenson and Becke Bowles Barnes, descendants of Emma Wagner Giesy, donated photographs, documents and artifacts that continue to add to our understanding of the “Emma” so ably described by our favorite historical fiction author Jane Kirkpatrick. 
Beds, chairs, baskets continue to be donated to ACHS as well as coverlets and quilts.  Jill Stanford donated a Lemoyne Star quilt that she would hang every year at Christmas time during the nearly twenty years when she lived in the Frederick Keil house; this year, as she wished, it is hanging in our exhibit gallery.

Come visit us and see the wonderful “Gifts to the Colony 2014”.  The exhibit runs through December 31st.