Not far from my home - about three miles south - is a historic little community. Aurora, Oregon is known for history and antiques. Lots of antiques. Aurora was originally settled by a religious commune, a group of German families who travelled by wagon train from Bethel, Missouri in search of the perfect place to live and do business.First named Aurora Mills, the town now showcases a number of historic homes and buildings.Award-winning and bestselling Oregon author, Jane Kirkpatrick, has recently completed her third novel in her Change and Cherish Historical Series, the story of the founding of Aurora. "A Mending At The Edge" is the final book that tells the story through the eyes and life of Emma Giesy. Jane is one of my favorite authors. Her research is thorough and her stories do not wander far from the truth of the real-life characters and events. Yesterday afternoon she held a booksigning event at the museum in Aurora. After a wonderful Mother's Day dinner - prepared by my sweetheart for my dear little mother and me - I treated my dear mother to a visit to the museum and a chance to see Jane in person. With camera in hand I couldn't wait to capture bits and pieces of what we saw.
The Old Aurora Colony Museum is housed in a building that has served as an oxbarn, a horse barn, a trucking depot, a store and a home. If you want to read about the museum, coming events and more of the history of Aurora, click here.Signs of the past and suggestions of the contents of the building greeted us as we approached the entrance. The sign overhead and a peak at the character and design of the building. . .
And an indication of some of the building's past occupants made us anxious to learn more. Once inside, it was as if we had entered another world. Magically transported back in time. We were reminded of the hardships faced and the stamina required of those who blazed a trail and settled into this area we love and call home. An armoire displaying a lovely garment, a petticoat and a beautiful hat gave a glimpse of the finery that was worn for special occasions.But the truth of everyday real life was displayed a few feet away. The winters were cold and damp. At times harsh winds and snows lasted for weeks at a time. Clothing had to provide warmth for survival . Hand quilted winter petticoats told the story. I was intrigued and amazed by the beauty of these undergarments. Garments no one saw.Well-labelled artifacts and treasures were tastefully displayed. An old German Bible. . . A spinning wheel that is used by the Aurora Colony Spinners. . .Boxes and bottles. . .Old linens and a baby bottle. . .A guitar and cooking utensils. . .A handmade guitar case and an old chair. . .And an old, weathered bell.The story continues out back in the gardens and outbuildings. The woodworking area. . .Next to the Blacksmith shop. . .A cast-iron bell. . .Barrels made by the cooper, stones ready to grind wheat in the nearby mill and a beautiful old window. . .The Carpenter's Shop. . .The Boot and Shoemaker's Shop. . . Laundry equipment ready for washday. . .And "The Necessary".The current displays throughout the main museum building feature the life of Emma Giesy. Her story is told and her pictures are displayed along with many of her belongings. Treasures from a life lived long ago. Perhaps what captured my heart most was the chance to see her calling card peeking from a small envelope inside a glass case with other things of hers. Her life was not easy and much of it was filled with unhappiness and pain. But in the middle of it all there were elements of finery and beauty. She was strong, willful at times, but always lady. The crowds were larger than we expected. There was much we didn't get to see because of long lines for the book signing and tables filled with books for purchase. I have more pictures to share with you. I will share them soon - they are stories in themselves. I didn't have a chance to see everything, to take my time and slowly read the information with each display. My heart longs to do that. Soon I will slip away and visit the museum again on a quiet afternoon when life in the little town near home is moving at a slower pace. There is much to see and learn in this small place in Oregon. Aurora Mills. The place dreamed of so long ago. A dream that became reality.