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Old Aurora Colony Museum

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					     Aurora…                Then and Now
                                                                                                                                       AURORA COLONY
   The Old Aurora Colony Museum houses all that re-                                                                                  HISTORICAL SOCIETY
mains of a way of life which began arriving in Aurora
in 1856. Dr. William Keil, a strong, religious man, or-
ganized his followers under the Golden Rule: “Every
man and woman must be a brother or sister to every
other man or woman in our family under the father-
hood of God—EVERY DAY.”
    An indomitable visionary with a belief in communal
living, Dr. Keil led the first large train of 27 wagons
from Bethel, Missouri in May, 1855, arriving in Wil-
lapa, Washington Territory in Nov ember of that year.
Unhappy with the scout chosen location at Willapa, Dr.
Keil m oved his communal followers to the rich farm -
land around what is now Aurora.
    Cooperative effort, industry, and unquestioned obe-
dience to the dictates of the astute Dr. Keil, led to the
rapid growth of the Colony. By the end of 1867 with the
arrival of the last wagon train from Bethel the settle-
ment numbered som e 600 souls. These pioneers built
their own hom es, shops and mills on the 18,000 acres                                                                             Old Aurora Colony
of land acquired by Keil with communal funds. They
were independent, self sustaining and happy. Good
music, delicious food and friendliness combined with a               AURORA COLONY WASH HOUSE                                          Museum
lov e of God, brought them happiness unmatched else-
where in the West of that day.
                                                             Unique in Oregon was the Aurora Colony custom of
                                                             building separate wash houses—the counterpart of                           Aurora, Oregon
    Dr. Keil continued as the undisputed leader of their     today’s utility room. Often these buildings were
personal lives and finances until his sudden death in        shared by a num ber of families and the wom en would
1877. Left without a strong leader, the Colonists finally    work together at such tasks as making soap or stuff-
                                                                                                                                   NATIONAL HISTORIC DISTRICT
dissolved their organization and each mem ber received       ing sausage. Visitors to the Museum com plex will see
a fair share of the total property and holdings.             this “out-kitchen” where wom en’s work was done—
       In 1956, a Centennial Celebration was organized       boiling clothes, canning fruit, and the many other                Highway 99E, between Salem and Oregon City
by descendents of the Aurora Colonists and out of this       chores that were a part of pioneer day life.
gala event came a resolution to build a museum where
                                                                                                                                from I-5 by way of the Aurora-Donald ex it.
the unique treasures of the Colony could be preserved             Aurora Colony Historical Society
and displayed.                                                      Old Aurora Colony Museum
    In 1963, Mrs. Amy Hurst sold the sturdy old build-
ing that had been constructed in 1859 or 1860, and                           OPERATING SCHEDULE
which had been ox barn, horse barn, trucking depot,
store and home, to the Aurora Colony Historical Soci-                                January
ety. The present Old Aurora Colony Museum cam e to                              Open by Appointment
life, partly because of interest and assistance given by
Mrs. Albert H. Powers, Dr. Burt Brown Barker and his                         February 1—December 31
                                                                              Open Tuesday thru Sunday
daughter, Mrs. John Sprouse. In 1966, the Museum
was dedicated, and in tribute to Dr. Barker on his 90th                          OPEN HOURS
birthday, was given to the Aurora Colony Historical                    Tuesday —Saturday : 11 :00 am —4:00 pm
Society.                                                                     Sunday : Noon—4:00 pm
    And so, the dream lives and grows today because
descendents and friends of the Aurora Colony still be-
                                                                 Second & Li berty Streets PO Box 202 A ur ora, OR, 97 002
lieve in the Golden Rule: “Lov e and Help one another.”                                                                                         Dr. William Keil
                                                                          Phone: 503-67 8-57 54 Fax : 503-67 8-57 56
                                                            inf o@A uror aCol ony Museum.com www .A ur oraCol ony Museum.com
                                                                                                                                     Founder and Leader of the Aurora Colony
    EXHIBIT—OLD AURORA COLONY MUSEUM                                                   KRAUS HOUSE
One of the many Museum exhibits displayed a huge fireplace        This family home was presented to the Historical Society by
which was used for cooking purposes as well as heating the        John Kraus, the son of an original Colony settler, and his two
room . The early Colonists made the bricks from which they        sons, John Jr. and George.
constructed their fireplaces and chimneys. Here are shown
large kettles for simmering preserves, and various other          With the official dissolution of the Aurora Colony in 1879,
handmade kitchen utensils.                                        George & Elizabeth Kraus becam e the official owners of this                    STEINBACH CABIN
                                                                  house. George was a shoemaker, or cobbler and Elizabeth
                                                                  was the head of the tailor shop. This charming pioneer home      The log cabin hom e built by George and Catherine
                                                                  is now com pletely furnished much as it has been over the        Steinbach in 1876 and presented to the museum
                                                                  years, with Aurora hand made furniture and many other            com plex by their grandson and wife, Ernest and
                                                                  item s which made Colony life pleasant and worthwhile.           Marian Becke, is a rare and authentic example of
                                                                                                                                   Aurora Colony building ability. It is constructed of
                                                                                                                                   peeled and hand-hewn timbers and chinked with
                                                                                                                                   mud.

                                                                                                                                   This three-room cabin was once a com fortable
                                                                                                                                   hom e for a family of eight. Most of the present fur-
                                                                                                                                   nishings such as tables, chairs, dishes, a spinning
                                                                                                                                   wheel, a spool bed, a hand-woven table cloth, a
                                                                                                                                   colorful pieced quilt, etc., have been supplied by
                                                                                                                                   Mr. and Mrs. Becke from their store of Colony
                                                                                                                                   treasures.




                                                                                KITCHEN—KRAUS HOUSE

                     SCHELLENBAUM                                 Here is a cozy pioneer kitchen. The wood-burning stove pro-
                                                                  vided a generous top for cooking, an ov en for baking and
The Schellenbaum, or “tree of little bells,” is an unusual mu-    cheery warmth for the family on cool days.
sical instrument which was carried at the head of the fam ous
Aurora Colony band in the “good old days.” Henry Conrad           The corner cupboard is Colony made, as is the “dry sink.”
Finck, graduate of a German University, organized and             This last m entioned piece of utility convenience had many
trained the first colony band, that later spread musical joy in   uses from mixing bread and pastries to washing dishes.
Aurora and the growing cities of the Pacific Coast. Their mu-     Cookie cutters, pans and kettles seem waiting to be used once
sic was semi-classical.                                           m ore.                                                                            CABIN KITCHEN

				
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