It Runs in the Families

The Spirit of Creative Invention

The first exhibit of 2018 at the Old Aurora Colony Museum explores how creativity and innovation gradually altered the structure of the colonies of Bethel and Aurora, and perhaps contributed to the demise of the communal society’s structure.
This idea is specifically explored as it manifested in the highly innovative Bier and Forstner families.

More about this exhibit and photos

Faith Was Their Banner Strong

The Stauffer Family

Anna Kilmer, the wife of Elmer Stauffer, lived in Hubbard during the mid-part of the twentieth century. As a good friend of local writer Cobie De Lespinasse, Anna absorbed many historical stories from her in-laws.
When De Lespinasse published “Second Eden” in 1951, a fictional account of life in the Colony, Anna penned a poem that she gave to the author.
The title for this exhibit is drawn from a line in Anna’s Poem which describes the ideals practiced by the Stauffer family as members of Dr. William Keil’s Christian Communal Society.

High every head with courage,
Faith was their banner strong,
As their wagons rolled on westward,
They poured out their hearts in song.
Theirs not a mission to conquer,
Nor a journey in search of gold,
But a dream of friendly Eden,
To have, to honor, to hold!
This heritage they have bequeathed us,
And may it forever shine,
In this Godly land, this free land,
On to the end of time.  ~Anna Stauffer

More about this exhibit and photos

And Now Dear David, Live Well

The Wagner Family

The title of this exhibition is in reference to a letter sent between two brothers, Johnathan and David Wagner. Johnathan moved to Honfleur, France and eventually became America’s vice consul.
David eventually joined Dr. William Keil’s Colony and came to Aurora, Oregon with his family.
Their brother Jacob, shown here with his wife Christina Heydt, settled with other dissidents of the Harmonist Society at Phillipsburg, PA in 1832. Since 1892, Phillipsburg has been known as Monaca.

More about this exhibit and photos

Gifts to the Colony 2016

Enriching the Aurora Colony Collection

For the ninth consecutive year we celebrate annual artifact contributions to the Aurora Colony Historical Society with our end of the year “Gifts to the Colony: 2016” exhibit which opens November 5th and continues through December 31st.
Gifts this year include four quilts, an office table, and a wide variety of manuscripts and photographs which add so much to our understanding of the Aurora Colony and its member’s relationship to the broader French Prairie region of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

More about this exhibit and photos

A Family Dynasty

The Geer Family in Oregon 1847 - 1902

This exhibit explores the Geer Family in 19th and the early years of the 20th century in Oregon. The exhibit is the culmination of a two year collaboration between GeerCrest Farm and Historical Society and Aurora Colony Historical Society. ACHS secured two grants from the Helen E. Austin Pioneer Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation to fund this collaboration. This exhibit describes just some of the unique and fascinating stories from this family’s long history in this state. Do bring your friends and family to enjoy this exhibit this summer!

More about this exhibit and photos

Pieces of the Puzzle

Our Own Mysteries of the Museum

Oregon Governor Mark Hatfield dedicated the Ox Barn Museum- now know as the Old Aurora Colony Museum on September 25, 1966. Fifty years after that momentous opening day, we are still discovering Aurora Colony artifacts and trying to tell their stories through exhibits and other educational activities here at the Museum.Our first exhibit of 2016, “Pieces of the Puzzle”, focuses on artifacts that have come to us with only part of their story known.Through research and great detective work we have filled in the gaps- thus gradually solving the puzzles. Sometimes by solving one puzzle we only find another to uncover! Come to the Old Aurora Colony Museum to enjoy all of our mysterious “Pieces of the Puzzle”. This eclectic collection of museum mysteries will be on exhibit through June 2, 2016.

More about this exhibit and photos

Gifts to the Colony 2015

Donations Continue to Enrich the Collection

Three very special Aurora Colony trunks were donated to the museum during 2015.  As one can imagine they were filled with a variety of family papers, photos and artifacts, and some of these gifts added tremendously to our understanding of the families and lives within the Colony and after.

More about this exhibit and photos

“How Do You Like Those Apples?”

Settlement of the French Prairie

To Dr. William Keil, the settlement of a Christian Communal Society in the newly settled Far West of America was an opportunity to establish a “Second Eden” in which the necessary steps to the achievement of the highest ideals of his Christian vision could be practiced.
To approach such an ideal required not only complete cooperation and commitment from his members but also the establishment of business, social and political relationships with his surrounding neighbors.

More about this exhibit and photos

Why Not Willapa?

The Story of How Aurora Almost Didn't Happen

This newest exhibit at the Old Aurora Colony Museum features historic photography, personal letters, artifacts, art and even a miniature model of the “Lot Whitcomb” paddlewheel steamship.

More about this exhibit and photos

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.

More about this exhibit and photos