selected articles from the Spring 2017 Newsletter
Faith Was Their Banner Strong: The Stauffer Families
by Patrick Harris
John Stauffer Sr. and his brother-in-law Hans Stauffer were two of ten scouts selected by William Keil to find a new site for his Christian Communal Society in western America. In 1853 these scouts selected Willapa Bay in the newly organized Washington Territory only to have their choice rejected by Keil in 1855 as too wet and too far from potential markets for their products.
Despite the fact that Keil found his own site in the Willamette Valley, named after his daughter Aurora, the Stauffers remained at Willapa for over ten years. Only after responding to a call for help with the new hotel did the John Stauffer Sr. family move to Oregon and build a log house which still stands halfway between modern day Aurora and Hubbard.
John and Maria Stauffer had ten children, eight of which were girls. All ten children lived to adulthood.
The summer exhibit explores the role of the Stauffer family through artifacts, photographs and personal documents including a poem written by Anna Stauffer which describes their commitment to the colony ideals:
“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 a 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.”
The exhibit formally opens on June 25th, the day of the Strawberry Social and continues through October 2nd. The museum is open everyday except Mondays and the 4th of July.
Words of Inspiration
by Spud Sperb
It is a wonderful thing when we receive words of inspiration from a child. I personally find this to be even more rewarding the older I get.
I recently received a moving and heart warming inspiration from a Rheannon Jarmer, who is a 4th grade student at Trost Elementary School in Canby, OR. Rheannon and her fellow classmates took a field trip to the Aurora Colony Historical Society’s Stauffer/Will Farm in March of this year.
Each year, nearly 4,000 grade school children attend our “Living History” programs at either the “Stauffer-Will Farm” or the “Village” at the Museum.
Through the research of past records of the Aurora Colony, we are able to very accurately relay and give hands on experience to these children what life was like 147 years ago for kids on a farm.
Upon completion of the field trip, the teachers are encouraged to have their students write letters and tell us about their experiences at the farm. Statements such as “Best Field Trip EVER” are seen frequently in these letters.
Having read hundreds of letters over the past 3 years, I believe Rheannon’s letter is the best and most inspirational I have had the joy of reading. This letter, from the eyes of a 10 year old, really speaks to the heart of what we seek to accomplish through this program. “Playing it forward” to ensure future generations learn from the ways of the past.
Volunteering the Stauffer-Will farm is unquestionably my favorite part of being involved in the Aurora Colony Historical Society. This year, 25 volunteers and three staff members are selflessly giving their time and energy to pass along our communities’ history to the next generation. My most sincere thanks go out to each and every one of you who help make this very successful program such an important part of the ACHS mission.
I know I speak for each of the other volunteers, when I say that everyone of us takes away much more than we give.
Preservation and Research Building Update
by Patrick Harris, Executive Director
The Helen E. Austin Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation awarded a $20,000 grant to ACHS in support of our campaign to build the Preservation and Research Facility. Additionally we are within a few weeks of signing the contract with the State of Oregon - Oregon Business Development Department, which will provide up to $400,000 in project funding. This contract provides that we will be able to complete the facility by April 5, 2020. To successfully do so we must raise another one million dollars. Everyone who has been associated with us for any length of time understands how vulnerable our collection is to time, temperature and disasters. ACHS Board members have contributed nearly $100,000 in dollars and in-kind professional services. Now is the time to consider how you can contribute to the completion of this project. And, of course, we will entertain anyone of you who might like to have their name or the name of their family on either the entire building or parts of it too! You will be receiving more information about these opportunities very soon!
This year’s major fundraiser, “The Occasion at the Octagon” will be held August 26th next to the actual site of the new building. By attending the fundraiser you will have the opportunity to view the architectural plans and see the site as well as having a great dinner!