Current Issue: Fall / Winter 2017


selected articles from the Fall / Winter 2017 Newsletter

Volunteering at Aurora Colony Historical Society

by Ken Hartley
Volunteering has always been a part of my life. It was taught, demonstrated and encouraged by my parents and grandparents. Initially, I thought that it was me who received the most benefits from these experiences. However, over the years I have discovered the real secret. My parents and grandparents were deriving benefits as well.
My parents were consummate volunteers, not only for the organizations to which they were associated, but also for the ones in which my sister and I were involved. The latter included Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, Little League, Sunday School and other church youth activities. Of course, they were also involved in their other adult/civic focused organizations, as well. They set good examples of what could be accomplished through individuals working together for common community good.
As a result, I have been involved for over 40 years with an international professional society of some 500,000 worldwide members. In the course of these efforts, I discovered the following poem, a copy which hangs on the wall of my home office. It was written by Will Allen Dromgoole, first published in 1931, and considered to be one of the most revered motivational poems ever written. It has certainly motivated me throughout my professional career, as well in my volunteer work, to do things for others and provide financial support for them.
The Bridge Builder By Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide
Through which was following a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here,
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way:
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,“ he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim:
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

Now, having read this poem. please reread it. However, this time replace each of the masculine nouns and pronouns with comparable feminine ones.
Why?? Is Ken crazy?? Well, perhaps so.
However, the real reason is that the poem was written by Will Allen Dromgoole, a noted and prolific woman writer (1871/1934) from Tennessee and whose father was a lawyer. She aspired to be one as well and studied law with him. However, since female lawyers had yet to be accepted in the United States at that time, she became a writer. She wrote 13 books, 7.500 poems, 5,000 newspaper columns, an operetta and two plays, as well as served in the U.S. Navy during World War 1. Could she have been sending a subtle message to the world even then about womens’ role in society? Obviously, she was well ahead of her time.
Bottom line:
I hope this poem and related background has inspired you, as it did and continues to for me, to volunteer your time and provide financial support to worthy organizations, including the Aurora Colony Historical Society. This is what has made, and continues to makes our country so great. Thank you for your both physical and financial support. They are greatly appreciated. These contributions of time, talent and funding will help to ensure that our mission is accomplished.

Off to New Adventures

by Patrick Harris
Curator Allison Dittmar left our employment here at the Old Aurora Colony Museum on September 22, 2017.  “Alli” had worked for us for over six years advancing quickly from a Volunteer to Assistant Curator before her promotion to Curator at the end of 2016.  Alli’s lasting legacy is her organization of the museum archives, photographs and artifacts so that they will be safely preserved while at the same time the information within them can be utilized.
Her last project with ACHS illustrates the above point.  Alli took it as her task to digitize all of the original colony account books. Researchers can now easily view the materials without damaging the original documents.  Because of Alli’s efforts the old Aurora Borealis and Aurora Observer newspaper were digitized by the University of Oregon and now are available on the web through Oregon Historic newspapers.
Alli organized our storage spaces making it much easier to transfer the collection to the new Preservation and Research Center when it opens in 2020.  She worked closely with the Building committee insuring that the curatorial needs of the new facility were included in the structural design.
And finally, Alli brought an exuberance to her job that will be missed.  As I told her during the 50th anniversary celebration for ACHS in 2013, she will have the opportunity to be the guest speaker in 2063 when at the age of seventy-seven she will give the opening remarks when the historical society celebrates its centennial year.  She will tell the members about the “old days” when she worked with Mr. Fezziwig (me) and the rest of the crew in those early years of the twenty first century.

Occasion at the Octagon

Attendees at the Occasion at the Octagon were treated to a delicious salmon dinner while they bid on some amazing baskets and live auction items.  This major fundraising event brought in nearly $20,000 for historical society programs and operations.
We would like to thank the individuals and businesses who donated items to the auction and all the bidders who attended and generously supported us by bidding on these items.
Thank you , Thank you.

Duties and Responsibilities

by Spud Sperb, President
Of the many duties and responsibilities I have encountered as the president of ACHS, perhaps the most interesting occurred late this summer. Jonathan Gibson, one of our former board members brought to our attention that a colony of honey bees had taken up residence in the wall of the utility building at the Stauffer/Will farm. Gaining access through a small hole in the siding, in approximately two months time, they had established a significant hive.
With everyone wanting to preserve the bees, Jonathan contacted the Willamette Valley Bee Keepers and made arrangements for one of their members to meet us at the farm for the “extraction”.  Now, I remind you that extracting the bees meant tearing the building apart and exposing the colony while the bees were still in it!
Luckily for me, the bee keeper had brought along an extra bee keepers hood.  After removing my hat and putting on the borrowed hood, I began slowly removing the exterior siding with an array of hammers and pry bars. It became quickly apparent that the bees were not at all fond of any of this process.  But, so far so good, not even one bee had managed to sting me. 
After removing an extensive amount of the siding, we discovered that the bees were actually located at the top of a stud cavity behind the plywood.  Now for the fun part.  With the assistance of a small battery powered skill saw I was able to carefully remove the section of plywood and expose the hive.
With the hive now exposed, the bee keeper carefully went to work removing small sections of the hive and placed the honey combs and bees in special transport boxes.  Great care was taken on his part to locate and capture the queen unharmed.  Once she was safely captured, she was placed into one of the boxes and that box was placed on top of the ladder right next to where the hive use to be located.  At that point, the remaining bees began entering the “Queen box” and several hours later, almost the entire hive was held safely in the boxes for transport to the bee keepers home.  I must say it was a very interesting process to witness.
After finishing the extraction, I reached down, picked up and put my trusty old baseball cap on.  Only to discover that one of the remaining bees had taken up refuge in my hat and immediately stung me on top of my head as soon as I placed it on my head.  So close!
The bee keeper, the bees, Jonathan and I all parted ways feeling good knowing that we had successfully removed the bees without harm.
It took several days to repair the damage caused by the extraction. New plywood had to be bought at the local lumber yard and then nailed up and then 1x12 siding had to be put in place.  Unfortunately, the existing siding had been destroyed during the removal process and new siding was necessary.  Because new siding in that size is very difficult to find, I called upon Aurora Architectural Salvage and successfully located some salvaged siding.  This salvaged siding would very closely match the existing siding and would blend right in to the rest of the building. Luckily for us, Mike Bynes the owner of Aurora Salvage, is a past president of ACHS and a long time supporter and Mike graciously donated the siding material.
In all it took about 4-5 hours for the extraction and 10-12 hours to make the necessary repairs. A special thanks to Jonathan Gibson for all his assistance in this process.
Ahh, but yet another adventure in the duties as President of the Aurora Colony Historical Society.  I can now list “bee extraction” on my list of responsibilities.

Stauffer-Will Farm Update

She has taught over 25,000 students about pioneer life in the Aurora Colony the past 10 years.  She has seen the program go from a 4 day a week, 10-11 week program to a 5 day a week, 12 week program which also expanded to the Aurora Village in 2010.
Coral Hammond came to love the Stauffer-Will Farm program as a volunteer.  In 2007 she took over the coordinator position when Jessie Turner retired.  Now it is time for Coral to move on as well.  In her own words;  “After many wonderful years of being a pioneer, I am spreading my wings.  When I am gone you may even say ‘she flew the coop.’ ”  Coral has accepted a job as a flight attendant for Skywest airlines.  We will miss her smiles and quick wit and all those endless questions she seemed to come up with about the Colony and the Stauffer-Will Farm.  We hope to see her as a volunteer when she is not entertaining travelers in the skies of Skywest.
Program Assistant, Christina Leder will be filling the coordinator position this next season; a season that is filled with eager students.  We are confident that Christina will continue to lead “the best and most amazing field trip in Oregon.”
On the home front, the Aurora Village is also filled with students and will be led again this year by Susan Clarke as coordinator.  We look forward to another fun-filled learning experience for many 4th grade students, their parents and teachers.

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