Spring Summer 2016

selected articles from the Spring / Summer 2016 Newsletter

Our Traveling Exhibit: the Back Story

by Patrick Harris
Shortly after I began my second stint at Aurora in 2006 we started developing Colony family history exhibits. These exhibits featured collections that have been primarily donated to ACHS over the past fifty years by descendants of specific Colony families. Thus, for the first time, the museum exhibits focused on the stories of the Colony families themselves.
As a result of this we conducted more specific research into our original archives and discovered, to our surprise, that the Colonists had very active relationships with many neighboring families in the French Prairie of the Willamette Valley. This information completely transformed our understanding of the Colony. Previously, we knew that the Aurora Colony Band was famous for its appearances at many valley functions and even traveled to the Puget Sound region to help Ben Holladay publicize his efforts to build a Pacific Coast railroad. And yes, we also knew that the train engineers made the Colony hotel famous for its ham and sausage dinners.
The archives revealed that the Colony store clients represented some of Oregon’s best known pioneers. They traded cash and products for Colony goods and they provided their particular services to the Colonists. William and James Barlow, for example, received medical treatments from Dr. Keil and then traded oats for Colony goods. These oats were processed at the Colony grist mill.
All of this research led to exhibits about the French Prairie pioneers themselves, including our 2016 traveling exhibit “Historic Heartland: French Prairie Influence on Oregon Statehood.”
Currently at the Wilsonville Public Library, the traveling exhibit’s next stop will be Champoeg State Park Visitors’ Center. You can view the exhibit at the state park through July 17. It will be returned to the Old Aurora Colony Museum where it will be on display through September.
I’d like to thank these sponsors again for making this wonderful exhibit possible:
Sponsors include the Marion Cultural Development Corporation, Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers, Pape Machinery, the Geer Family, the Helen E. Austin Pioneer Fund, and the Aurora Colony Historical

Celebrating Successes at the Stauffer-Will Farm and Aurora Village

by Elizabeth Corley
This Spring from mid-March through mid-June over 3800 4th grade students along with 850 parent chaperones and teachers were able to step back in time at the Stauffer-Will Farm and Aurora Village. They were able to get a glimpse of what living in Aurora, Oregon in the late 1800’s might have been like.
In the over 25 years that this program has been in existence it has grown in popularity to the point of expanding its capacity nearly every year. During the 12 weeks each Spring 40+ volunteers donate over 1733 hours. Without all these wonderful volunteers we would not have this exceptional program. Thank you to each and every one of you for donating your time to ACHS.
Here are just a few excerpts from the hundreds of Thank-You notes received each year:
Thank you for taking your time out of your day to make kids days the greatest!
I had so much fun and thank you for taking time off for us. We apreceat that you took time for us. I did not have a favorite I loved it all.
Thank you for teaching our grade all about the life many Aurora Colonists had. I loved every moment. Candles, quilts, woodwork, cooking, it was all so fun! I’d love to come again soon! ~Meredith
I had so much fun in the barn chopping and sawing wood! I wish I could never leave. I hope you had a great time too!
I learned that life can be fun with no cell phones or wi-fi. Ja!
Thank you for all your time with us. I appreciate all the things you awesome volunteers do. I enjoyed going to the Stauffer-Will Farm. You volunteers are AMAZING!

It also takes many volunteer hours in prep each season acquiring the necessary supplies for each project the students take with them at the end of the day. A special thank-you to Bill Wettstein, Steve Freid, Ken Hartley, and Roger Young for the supply of filbert branches for the candleholders and to Bob’s Red Mill for the donation of flour used in the bread baking. They have supported our program with this donation for many years. And thank you to all the quilters who have cut and supplied the squares for our quilting project. Fabric and 2 ½ inch squares are always needed! (each of those 4650 participants will use 9 squares…WOW!)

Remembering Emma

by Cheryl Burks
The 2016 Remembering Emma Day was a sold-out success. This traditional event was presented in a new format, “A Tea in Four Acts.” The remarkable turn out can be credited to the creativity and efforts of the ACHS staff and the presence of author, Jane Kirkpatrick. As always with ACHS fundraising events countless hours of volunteer time were integral in making the day a hit. Not only had all 100 tickets been sold prior to the event, but the day was blessed with plenty of sunshine.
Guests were entertained by four historically accurate vignettes based on Emma Wagner Giesy’s life, each at a different site within the museum “neighborhood.” Post performances, afternoon tea awaited. The fellowship room of Christ Lutheran Church decorated with vintage quilts from the collection of Annette James and lovely table settings was transformed into a tea room for 100+ guests.
A gift bag with, among other items, a lavender wand donated by the Willamette Herb Society, was provided for each guest. As savories, sweets, and of course, tea, were enjoyed the group was treated to an inspirational talk by Jane Kirkpatrick.


by Luana Hill, ACHS Board Member
The Old Aurora Colony Museum will expand children’s programs in mid-June with the introduction of new Colony Kids activities. Designed primarily for ages up to 12, Colony Kids will feature pioneer-era games and activities in two areas, one inside the Ox Barn and the other in the courtyard. Upon completing activities such as building a log cabin with Lincoln Logs or walking on stilts, a child can put a stamp in a PASTport and redeem it for a small take-away. We plan to offer at least a dozen activities on any given day, and change them from time to time to encourage return visits. Some of those activities are making pew babies, spinning tops, listening to a music box, playing school, and tossing hoops. During special events such as Colony Days, we hope to add activities that might be difficult to carry on daily, such as clothes washing or cider pressing. If you have kids or grandkids, please bring them starting June 21 and let them be a Colony Kid!

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