Gifts to the Colony 2013

Donations Continue to Enrich the Collection

2013 has brought more wonderful additions to the collection of the Aurora Colony Historical Society. Additionally, and as a result of these contributions, several family stories have been added to or clarified.  These donations will be featured in the year-end exhibit, “Gifts to the Colony 2013” and additionally in the first exhibit of 2014, “Rudimentary Studies and Tall Tales: Aurora Education from 1861 to 1961”.

Colony Descendants and Collectors Make Generous Donations

This exhibit was made possible by the generous donation of Aurora Colony artifacts from colony descendants and other collectors during the year of 2013. It is most exciting to realize that even after fifty years, artifacts are still being donated to the Aurora Colony Historical Society to be displayed in our Old Aurora Colony Museum or made available to researchers. Each acquisition adds new details to our knowledge of life within the Aurora Colony. We also appreciate donations of items that, while not from the colony itself, help better illustrate the era and the pioneer lifestyle.

John Carr, through his parents Paul and Dottie Carr, donated a cupboard that we believe originated with the Harmony Society in Pennsylvania.  John’s descendant Jacob Wagner never came to Oregon but after leaving the Harmonists in 1832 lived in Phillipsburg, Pa.
Jill Koenig donated a headboard from the bed used by Ed Becke and Catherine Steinbach Becke.  Catherine grew up in the log cabin that is on the museum grounds.  Her son, Ernest Becke, donated the log cabin in 1967 and it was moved to the museum from its original site near the Willamette River.

The Importance of Education

Our 2012 exhibit “We Were Here First’ about the French Prairie settlers who came to our area before Dr. Wilhelm Keil resulted in our acquisition of a wonderful group of photographs depicting the students who attended the White School near Hubbard.
A significant grant of $3000 Gary Leiser through his Tarbell Family Foundation will make it possible for us to survey Aurora education from 1860 to 1960.  Gary kept a diary during his 8th grade year at the North Marion School and has donated this to the museum.
Gary was accepted to Harvard University in 1970 but actually attended the University of Pennsylvania.  One hundred years previous to this Aurora’s Henry Theophilus Finck became Oregon’s first student to attend Harvard. 

We are especially intrigued with the lives of the many teachers who have served Aurora area schools.  In 1984 the historical society received the diary of Nellie Meacham who taught in the Aurora school in 1879.  Nellie was a graduate of Willamette College. This diary was transcribed this past year by Assistant Curator Alli Dittmar.
Edie Torgeson donated her memoirs of starting school at Aurora in 1926.  Edie’s notes highlight the work of Ralph Southwick who was the Principal of the Aurora school at that time.  He also drove the school bus which Edie referred to as the “Chicken Coup”.  Edie also donated a wonderful scrapbook detailing the lives of her Crisell relatives.

The “Gifts to the Colony 2013” exhibit opens November 9th and continues through December 31st.  The museum will be closed Thanksgiving Day and also Christmas Day.