(Note: Only Hamilton County is available here)
(See the Hall County section on the Hall County NEGenWeb Project site.)
AURORA is handsomely located near the geographical center of the county, and is an important station of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in Nebraska. It is tastily and regularly laid out, with a fine public square in the center, planted with rapidly growing forest trees, in the center of which stands the court-house, and around it on all sides are the various business houses, compactly and substantially built. The original site of the town, situated upon the northeast quarter of section 4, Town 10, Range 6, was pre-empted by Darius Wilcox in the summer of 1871.
In March, 1871, a town company was formed at Chariton, Iowa, who proposed to go to Hamilton County, Neb., and locate a town which should become the county seat. They entered into the following agreement with each other:
Previous to this time S. P. Lewis, one of the party, had visited Hamilton County, and reported favorably of it, as will be seen by a glance at the terms of the original agreement. Mr. D. Stone was commissioned by the company to proceed to Hamilton County, and make claim to a site, for the prospective town.
He arrived at S. W. Spafford's place on Lincoln Creek, and after an examination of the county returned to Iowa. Disunion, however, arose in the organization and the plans of the town company came to naught. Robert Miller and N. Thorpe came out for the purpose of locating the town site, and were followed June 10, by Messrs. David Stone, Darius Wilcox and S. P. Lewis. The party camped on Lincoln Creek, on the northeast corner of Section 4. Shortly after D. Stone platted a town site on the northeast quarter of Section 4, Town 10, Range 6, and on the night of June 19, 1871, the new town was named Aurora. After the collapse of the town company Mr. Willcox pre-empted the northeast quarter of Section 4; D. Stone homesteaded eighty acres on the west half of Section 34, Town 11, Range 6, and E. D. Preston took a "claim" on the southeast quarter, Section 4, and Robert Miller made claim on the northwest quarter of the same section.
The original town site was surveyed and platted by Darius Wilcox and Mary A. E. Stone, and entered for record December 20, 1872. It comprised the south half of the northeast quarter, and the south half of the north half of the northeast quarter of section 4, Township 10, Range 6 west, a tract of 120 acres. The south addition includes the north half of the southeast quarter of Section 4, Town 10, Range 6 west, as pre-empted by Edgar D. Preston, August 15, 1872, and entered as a town site May 25, 1874, by Edgar D. Preston, Darius Wilcox, F. M. Ellsworth, Rebecca E. McPherson and Mary A. E. Stone. The next additon made was the Ellsworth Addition, a tract of about sixty acres, the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter, and the south half of the northwest quarter of Section 4, Town 10, Range 6 west. It was pre-empted by Robert Miller, in June, 1871, who transferred it to F. M. Ellsworth, and was entered for record as a town by Ellsworth and Darius Wilcox, November 3, 1878. Enterprise Addition was homesteaded by W. A. Johnson in August, 1872, and comprises the northeast half of the southwest quarter, Section 4, Town 10, Range 6 west. It was entered as a town by Mr. Johnson, March 10, 1880.
In June, 1871, the town company erected the first house upon Section 4, a "dug-out," on the site now occupied by Chapman's agricultural implement store - the southwest corner, Block 12, original town.
In August of the same year David Stone erected the first frame building in the town, a store and residence, in which he opened the first stock of general merchandise brought to the new place. This was the old frame building recently occupied by Chapman as a livery stable, on the southwest corner of Block 11, and was torn down in March, 1890, to make roon for a more pretentious structure. The building now occupied by A. L. Biship for an agricultural implement store, on the northwest corner of Block 17, was the third in the infant city, and was erected by Darius Wilcox. It was occupied by him about a year, and was then turned into a store and occupied by Messrs. Bromstedte & Kleinschmidt, with a stock of general merchandise. Soon after Mr. Thorpe had an office built just south of the Wilcox build-
ing, which was afterward removed. In 1872 the school-house (the building now used as a Catholic Church) was built, also the Aurora House, the part now used as a sample-room, and the sod blacksmith shop of John Schultz, which stood back from the street about where Peterson's store now stands, and two or three other small buildings. In 1873 fifteen or eighteen buildings were erected, and from this time on the growth of the village continued, each year adding more than the preceding.
The removal of the county seat in 1876 gave the town quite an impetus, which was much exceeded by that given it by the advent of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, in 1879.
It was incorporated as a village on July 3, 1877, John Helms, D. Bates, W. H. Streeter, John Raben and Harry W. Kemper being appointed trustees. The first meeting of the board was held July 5, 1877, and John H. Helms was elected president, and W. L. Whittemore appointed clerk. For two years more the town struggled along, enduring all the inconvenience of lack of railroad and telegraph communication, until the fall of 1879, when it had attained a population of scarcely 400.
With the advent of the Republican Valley Railroad, a branch of the Burlington & Missouri River in Nebraska, which ran its first regular train into the town October 14, 1879, a great forward stride was made, and a period of activity ensued which rapidly carried the town into rank with her neighbors in surrounding counties which had had the advantage of railroad facilities at an earlier date.
From this time on the growth of the city has been steady and continuous, and while there has never been what is commonly called a boom - the advantages of which, to a city, are of a very doubtful character - substantial improvements have constantly been going on, made and paid for, by the permanent residents, as the needs of the growing city have demanded them.
Scarcely nineteen years ago saw the erection of the first dwelling where now stands a city of over 2,000 inhabitants, adorned by elegant residences, beautiful lawns and large and imposing business blocks. The city is regularly laid out, with handsome wide streets and avenues, whose excellent grading and miles of smooth sidewalks are not excelled by those of any city of twice its size in the State. The court-house square, which occupies a central location, is planted with thrifty trees and carpeted by a smooth lawn, in the center of which stands the court-house. The streets surrounding the square are occupied by business houses, many of which would be an ornament to any city.
The first brick building erected in the town was the Hamilton County Bank building, in 1879, followed in 1881 by A. G. Peterson's building and that of the First National Bank. The Temple Block, Republican building and the Aurora Banking Company's building, all erected within the past year, are among the finest structures in the city. A fine brick jail was built by the county in 1888, at a cost of over $7,000, the first story being fitted with two steel cells and arranged with reception rooms and offices, the second floor being designed for a residence for the sheriff of the county. An excellent system of water-works was put in by the city in the same year, including stand-pipes, steam-pumps, together with a substantial brick building, serving as pumping-station and hose-house, a fire department being organized in the same year, consisting of hose company and hook and ladder company. Under the provisions of Chapter 14 of the compiled statutes Aurora became a city of the second class in 1886.
The following is a roster of the officials from its incorporation as a village in 1877; 1877-Hon. John H. Helms, Gen. Delevan Bates, W. H. Streeter, John Raben, Henry W. Kemper, W. L. Whittemore, clerk of the board; 1878-Hon. John H. Helms, W. S. Strain, D. Wilcox, John Raben, George Wildish, W. L. Whittemore, clerk; 1879-Hon. J. H. Helms, W. H. Waters, George Wildish, John Raben, Henry Moyer, W. L. Whittemore, clerk; 1880-Hon. J. H. Helms, John Raben, Thomas C. Klumb, H. G. Rogers, Henry Moyer, W. E. Farley, clerk; 1881-W. H. Alden, J. B. Myres, P. M. Green, C. H. Kimball, W. I. Farley, Henry Sargent, William P. Hellings, clerk; 1882-Chairman, John W. Thiery; clerk, William P.
Hellings; treasurer, D. Bates; trustees, John W. Thiery, N. C. Rogers, Jacob Wolbach, F. P. Gavan and F. H. Stevens; 1883-Chairman, John W. Thiery; clerk, William P. Hellings; treasurer, D. Bates; trustees, John W. Thiery, F. P. Gavan, Jacob Wolbach, F. H. Stevens and A. D. Travis; 1884-Chairman, H. G. Cass; clerk, D. W. Fisher; treasurer, John Tweedy; trustees, H. G. Cass, Robert Waddle, George Wildish, A. P. Wells and F. C. Mather; 1885- Chairman, George Wildish; clerk, Walter C. Chambers; treasurer, D. Bates; trustees, George Wildish, H. G. Cass, Robert Waddle, F. C. Mather, M. French; 1886-[Village changed to city by operation of statute, and city divided into three wards] Mayor, W. F. Peck; clerk, Samuel Spanogle; treasurer, D. Bates; engineer, D. B. Parks; police judge, W. K. Ream; city attorney, A. J. Rittenhouse; chief of police, W. Z. Pllard; street commissioner, J. M. Day; councilmen - First Ward, J. N. Cassell, S. B. Chapman; Second Ward, William Kramer, Samuel Spanogle; Third Ward, J. W. Elarton, William H. Alden; 1888 - Mayor, Delavan Bates; clerk, L. W. Shuman; treasurer, Fritz Hoefer; police judge, Phil Likes; engineer, D. B. Parks; attorney, D. M. Waite; chief of police, D. R. Noble; street commissioner, James A. Day; councilmen - First Ward, S. B. Chapman, J. N. Cassell; Second Ward, H. M. Kellogg, E. Jones; Third Ward, J. W. Elarton, W. H. Alden; 1889 - Mayor, A. N. Thomas; clerk, William P. Hellings; treasurer, J. D. Ferguson, Jr.; police judge, D. A. Scovill; engineer, D. B. Parks; attorney, W. J. Stevenson; chief of police, J. G. Baeschlin; councilmen - First Ward, J. N. Cassee, J. H. Smith; Second Ward, H. M. Kellogg, Delevan Bates; Third Ward, H. B. Witte, T. E. Williams.
The post office was moved to Aurora from Spafford's Grove in 1872 and David Stone became postmaster. He was succeeded by A. Kitzmiller, who removed the office in 1874 to the west side of the square, to the site now occupied by Temple Block, where he was succeeded July, 1874, by N. P. Spafford, who filled the position of postmaster until 1878. In that year Mr. John Tweedy was appointed to the position, which he has occupied to the present time. He removed the office that year to its present location, into a building erected by Gen. Bates. The office at the time Mr. Tweedy was appointed paid about $600. It is now a salaried office and pays $1,600 per annum. The business of the office for 1889 amounted to $4,766.44
The city is well supplied with railroad facilities, four branches of the Burlington & Missouri system converging at this point; the main line east and west, extending from Nebraska City, Neb., to Newcastle, W. T. [transcriber's note: Wyoming Territory], a distance of 574 miles. The Central City branch affords direct communication with the North Platte country, and the Hastings branch with the Republican Valley and the West. During 1889 there were shipped from this point 451 cars of corn, flax 125, oats 175, cattle 123, hogs 177, butter 15, eggs 1, brick 15, total 1,087 cars.
The education of the youth of the city has always been deemed of paramount importance, and has received the earnest consideration and support of the citizens, and as early as 1872 a good, substantial frame school-house was erected. The city
is now supplied with two brick and one frame school buildings, divided into thirteen rooms. A corps of eleven teachers is employed at an annual expense for salaries of $5,200. The schools are divided into the first and second primary, first and second intermediate, first and second grammar, and the high school departments. The various departments are well equipped with apparatus, and good patent desks.
The number of children of school age in 1889 in the district was 652, about 500 being the average attendance. The high standing in scholarship attained by the pupils in the different departments speaks volumes of the efficiency of the teachers.
Mr. R. W. Graybill, a member of the present board of education was the first to "wield the burch," in the early days of Aurora, away back in 1872, and E. B. Barton, Miss Jennie Scott, Miss Kate Giltner (afterward Mrs. Scott) and Gen. D. Bates, successively occupied the position, from that time to 1879.
In that year the school was divided into departments and Capt. J. N. Cassell became principal, succeeded in 1880 by Prof. Reese, who held down the principal's chair until 1881, when Miss Lizzie Craig took charge. Miss Craig resigning the same year, Harvey Cole completed the term. In 1882 W. L. Stark filled the chair, and filled it well. He was followed by Prof. Seaford in 1883, and he by W. R. Hart in 1884, who retained the positon until 1887, when he resigned, and Mrs. Scott finished the term. Since that time Prof. H. R. Corbett has served as principal, and that he may long continue to do so is the universal wish of parents and pupils. The following is the present efficient corps of teachers: H. R. Corbett, principal; Miss Lou Armel, assistant principal high school; Mrs. Gable, principal south school; Miss Minnie Fenton, second grammar; Miss Jennie Waddle, first grammar; Miss May Macwell, second intermediate; Miss Ida Goodrich, first intermediate; Miss May Corbett, second primary; Miss May Leonard, first primary; south school, Miss Ollie Pinnell, intermediate; Miss Janie Lamont, primary.
In 1888 the school district of Aurora was organized under the statute relating to city schools, and the following board of education was elected: T. A. McKay, for term ending 1891; D. A. Scovill, 1891; H. Cole, 1890; W. L. Stark, 1890; A. N. Thomas, 1889; William Glover, 1889.
Among the banking and manufacturing interests of the city is the Hamilton County Bank, established in 1877, by George Wildish. In 1886 W. H. Streeter bought out Mr. Wildish, since which time the business has been conducted by him, with W. C. Chambers as cashier.
The First National Bank, organized in April, 1883. This bank was the successor to the bank of Aurora, started in August, 1879, by Grimes & Dinsmore. In 1882 the firm of McKay, Munger & Wentz, became the owners, and operated the institution until succeeded by the First National Bank in 1883, T. A. McKay becoming prsident, and W. C. Wentz, cashier. In 1886 Mr. McKay sold his interest to J. H. Bell, who became president, J. F. Houseman assuming the duties of cashier, which positions they still occupy.
The Farmers' and Merchants' Bank was organized in April, 1883, by W. H. Streeter, E. J. Hainer and W. I. Farley. In 1886 Mr. Streeter withdrew, in order to take charge of the Hamilton County Bank, and the business was continued by E. J. Hainer and W. I. Farley, intil 1888, when Mr. Farley's interest was purchased by E. J. Hainer (who is president) and T. E. Williams (cashier), the present proprietors.
Aurora State Bank was organized in June, 1889, and was the successor of the Aurora Exchange Bank, established October 1, 1886, by T. A. McKay and Spanogle & Co. The officers are: D. E. Thompson, president; A. G. Peterson, vice-president, and Harvey Cole, cashier. A handsome stone front building is now being completed by W. I. Farley, J. D. Ferguson, Jr., J. B. Rogers and E. J. Waddle, in which a bank was recently opened under the name of the Aurora Banking Company.
The Aurora Creamery Company was organized in the spring of 1887, the stock being owned by a large number of the business men of the city. In the fall of 1888 the building - a frame structure - was entirely destroyed by fire. The stock was then bought up by a few of the original stockholders, who proceeded to erect a brick building suited to the needs of the business. The stock is now owned principally by Hon. J. H. Smith, E. J. Hainer and W. A. Carpenter.
Aurora Roller Mills were built in 1884 by Curry & Glover. The mill was equipped with first-class modern machinery, but in 1888 the flouring machinery was removed to Dakota, and the mill has since been adapted to grinding corn and feed. It is now owned by a Chicago commission house and is used as a grain elevator.
The Aurora Machine Shops of H. T. Jensen were established in 1884. The business consists largely of repairing farm machinery and the manufacture of "patent feed steamers," the "right" to which is owned by Mr. Jensen.
The Aurora Foundrey was established in the fall of 1886 by E. W. Wilson. Recently Mr. Wilson erected a good brick building, which has just been completed, and into which he is now removing his machinery.
There are also three extensive brick-yards here, all doing a good business.
The spiritual welfare of the city is carefully looked after by the pastors of seven different congregations, holding regular services.
The first Congregational Church of Aurora was organized by Rev. D. B. Perry, April 27, 1872. Rev. Perry was a missionary sent out by the Home Missionary Society, and is one of the pioneer missionaries of Hamilton County. Rev. L. W. Jones, of Worcester, Mass., also assisted in the organization, and preached the first sermon ot the newly organized society. The original members were C. H. Kimball, J. H. Faris, Porter C. Culver, John Mathews, N. E. Kimball, N. E. Faris, Susie J. Culver, Amanda Hagerman, E. Mathews, Good Noble, Elizabeth Strain. C. H. Kimball and J. H. Faris were chosen deacons, and Porter C. Culver, clerk. Rev. Mr. Perry became the pastor of the church at its organization, officiating for one year, and was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Maxwell, who was pastor of the church about the same length of time and was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Hill, who closed his ministry in the spring of 1876, after two years of labor. Rev. William Woolman took charge of this pastorate May 1, 1876, remaining until September 29, 1879. The church was supplied until August 1, 1880, at which date Rev. A. L. Seward assumed the duties of pastor.
During the first year of Mr. Seward's pastorate the society held their meetings in the court-house, when the present church building, corner of Hamilton Avenue and Third Street, was erected at a cost of $3,200. Mr. Seward closed his labors with this church November 1, 1884, and accepted an appointment as missionary in Utah. For several months following the church was without a pastor. July 1, 1885, Rev. J. G. Spencer accepted a call to succeed Mr. Seward, and filled the duties of pastor acceptably and well, until succeeded by Rev. E. Cressman, on March 1, 1887, who remained until May 1, 1888, and was succeeded by Rev. Mark Baskerville, the present pastor. The church at present numbers forty-six members.
The First Baptist Church of Aurora was organized in May, 1872, by Rev. Mr. Biggart, who became its first pastor, his ministry covering a period of two years. He was succeeded by Rev. Moses Rowley in the spring of 1874, who was in charge until the spring of 1876. Rev. Mr. Rowley was succeeded by Rev. Frank Mitchell in the spring of 1877, who was pastor for one year. In the spring of 1878 Rev. J. W. Lewis accepted a call from this society, closing his ministry in the spring of 1880, when he was succeeded by the last pastor, Rev. A. J. Cotney. The church was completed during the pastorate of Rev. Moses Rowley in 1876, and is valued at $1,500. The church became embarrassed financially, and the building was afterward sold under a mortgage, the purchasers tearing it down and using the material for building a dwelling house.
The society has for several years been without a regular meeting-p;ace and without a pastor.
The Catholic mission was established at Aurora in 1876 by Rev. Father Glauber, then stationed at Hastings, and attended by him at intervals until he was succeeded by Rev. Father Eugene Geary. Father Geary was succeeded in March, 1889, by Rev. Adams. The society purchased the old school-house and converted it into the "Catholic Church," in which regular services are held by Rev. Father Sproll, who succeeded Rev. Adams in June, 1889, once in three weeks. The mission has been prospering greatly under Father Sproll's ministrations, and now numbers about fifty members.
As early as the winter of 1872-73 an effort was made to organize a Methodist Episcopal Church in Aurora.
The conference of 1873 appointed Rev. A. G. White to take charge of the Kearney district, which included Hamilton County, and for the first time in organized territory, in the interests of this church, received a name. In the winter of 1872-73, Rev. W. J. Witso organized the Methodist Church at Aurora.
Rev. C. L. Smith was the first minister appointed to take charge of this circuit, which was called the Orville Circuit and comprised the entire county, in the spring of 1873, and remained in charge intil the fall of 1875, being succeeded by Rev. William Seabrooke Higgins, who was in charge one year, and at the close of his labors entered the Baptist Church as a minister. The conference of 1876 assigned this field to Rev. J. F. Martel, who carried on the work for two years, resigning his charge in the fall of 1878 to Rev. W. F. Grundy, who had charge one year, up to the close of the conference year in 1879. Rev. S. S. Penepacker was stationed here during the conference year of 1880, and was succeeded by Rev. C. L. Smith, who was assigned to this charge a second time in the fall of 1880, and served for two years. He was succeeded by Rev. William H. Tibbits, who remained in charge two years. It was during his pastorate that the present church edifice was erected, as well as the comfortable parsonage.
Mr. Tibbitts was succeeded October 4, 1884, by Rev. G. H. Wehn, who remained and was active for the accomplishment of much good for two years, when Rev. George A. Miner was assigned to the charge, remaining until the fall of 1888, when he was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. A. C. Crosthwaite.
The Presbyterian Church of Aurora was organized August 16, 1873, by Rev. N. C. Robinson, synodical missionary of Nebraska, and was incorporated as a society March 9, 1878, with the following trustees: Rev. H. M. Giltner, president, E. M. Thompson, B. F. Isaman, W. S. Strain, W. M. Scott. The first pastor of the church was Rev. T. K. Hedges, who commenced his ministry in the fall of 1873, continuing it until May, 1874, at which date he was succeeded by Rev. R. R. Bement, who was in charge until August 11, 1876, when Rev. H. M. Giltner, an able pastor, was called to take charge. The church building was erected in the summer of 1878, at a total cost of $2,000. Rev. H. M. Giltner is the pioneer minister of the Presbyterian Church in Nebraska. He was appointed synodical missionary by the domestic board of the (O. S.) Presbyterian Church in 1855, and organized the first church society in the State, at Nebraska City, in 1856, and erected the first church, a brick structure, at that city, in 1857. He also served as chaplain of the House of Representatives during the first session held at Omaha in the winter of 1855-56. His daughter (Fannie) was the third child born in the State, and the second female child, February 28, 1856. She also received the first marriage license granted to any young lady claiming Nebraska as her birthplace. In 1856 he organized the second Sabbath-school in Nebraska, at Nebraska City. Mr. Giltner has been unwearied in his devotion to his work as synodical missionay, and has undergone many privations and hardships in his early labors for the cause in which he has proved himself such an earnest advocate, and has lived to see the church that he planted in the wilderness grow to a magnitude and importance no human power can estimate, supported by a population fully a million strong, and to share the honors of its glorious triumphs.
Mr. Giltner's labors continued for six years, and
he was succeeded June 1, 1882, by Rev. W. J. Oliver, a young man of pleasant address and fine educational attainments, who remained two years. The church was then without a regular pastor until March, 1885, when Rev. A. R. Day was engaged. Mr. Day's successor was Rev. J. H. Reynard, who was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. Robert Watt, November 1, 1888.
Initiatory steps were taken in the fall of 1878 to organize a German Evangelical Church in Aurora, services being held by Rev. S. H. Holdgraf, at the houses of German citizens. The church was organized on January 13, 1879, with Rev. Holdgraf as pastor, and the following members: Fritz Hoefer, William Kramer, Louis Bald, Joseph Schwab, Adolph Reuber, Henry Kemper and John Fisher.
Rev. Holdgraf was succeeded in August, 1884, by Rev. Louis Kleeman, a young man of much worth and ability, who was followed by Rev. G. H. Becker, and he by the present pastor, Rev. Herman Tietke. A neat little church building was erected in the fall of 1884, the building committee being: August Strauss, William Kramer and L. Kleeman. The present membership numbers thrity-two families.
The Aurora Free-Will Baptist Church was organized in May, 1879, by Rev. A. M. Totman, Rev. G. T. Davis and Rev. Mr. Totman becoming the first pastor, who continued in that capacity for three years. The church was organized in Septmeber, 1883, with the following members: Rev. A. M. Totman, Mrs. Totman, Cora Totman, Mrs. Hannah Lounsbury, Joseph Tompkins, Mary Tompkins, Mrs. Lucy Lee, Mrs. Anna Riley, H. A. Stone, Mrs. Sarah Stone, Eugene Nye, Charles De Maranville, Clara E. De Maranville, Isaac Kinkaid, Sarah E. Kinkaid, B. F. Isaman, M. A. Isaman, Ella T. Davis, Mrs T. G. Davis, M. B. Hull, Mrs. Emily Hull, J. B. Sweet, Mrs., Ella O. Sweet, Robert Eyres, O. M. Soul.
In May, 1884, Rev. G. W. Knapp became pastor, and continued for two years, when the church was left without a pastor for two years until May, 1888, when Rev. Knapp again took charge, and has continuously filled that position to the present time. Rev. Knapp and his very estimable wife, who is president of the Women's Christion Temperance Union, have not only endeared themselved to the church society, but to all who are fortunate enough to know them. Under his care the church is united and properous, and numbers a membership of over fifty. A house of worship was erected in the summer of 1885, dedicated in August of that year, which is well filled as each returning Sunday its bell summons the congregation together.
In July, 1887, Elder John T. Smith, of Nebraska City, State evangelist, came to Aurora and began a series of meetings with a view to organize the Disciples, in this vicinity, into a congregation. He preached about two weeks, holding meetings in the Free Baptist, Presbyterian and Congregational Churches. During this time he secured the names of about forty who had been members of the church prior to removing to this place, and after arranging for the use of the court-room for Sunday-school and church services, the congregation was organized on July 31, 1887, with the following members: Mrs. A. N. Thomas, Mrs. T. E. Valentine, Eliza Osborne, J. C. McCord, Mrs. J. C. McCord, Belle McCord, Mrs. Jennie De Noon, Frank F. Cook, A. H. Sangston, Mrs. A. H. Sangston, W. R. Smith, Mrs. W. R. Smith, Merritt Hoblit, Belle Thompson, Mrs. Kate Jones, Mrs. Augusta F. Musick, Mrs. M. M. Coon, Ollie Pinnell, Rose Matsler (now Mrs. Duncan), Mellie Chapman (now Mrs. J. E. McBride), S. S. Matlock, Mrs. S. S. Matlock, Nelson Kutch, Mrs. Nelson Kutch, Mrs. Anna E. Hastings, Tillie Darling (now Mrs. W. R. Bell), Mrs. Rosa Howell, Mrs. Maggie Likes, W. P. Hellings, Angeline Flanagan, J. H. Shafer, Emma Shafer, Mrs. Florence Widaman, J. P. Bute and Mrs. J. P. Bute. Nelson Kutch, A. N. Thomas and A. W. Agee were chosen as elders, W. R. Smith and J. C. McCord as deacons, Belle Thompson, clerk, and W. R. Smith, treasurer. Prior to the visit of Elder J. T. Smith, Elders R. C. Barrow, T. A. Parinson and
D. R. Lucas had held several meetings, preaching for several days at a time. In September, 1887, Elder W. C. Basher was employed as pastor for one year. At the expiration of his time Elder L. H. Humphreys was employed for a year. During the winter of the year of his pastorate he held a meeting of several weeks' duration, the result of which was the addition of thirty-four members, twenty-one by confession and immersion. The present membership is about seventy-five. February 3, 1889, the same persons were again chosen as elders and deacons, two additional deacons being chosen, W. S. Harlan and A. W. Hickman; W. R. Smith was again chosen as treasurer and Eva Kirkpatrick clerk. In July, 1889, A. W. Agee and others began the work of raising funds by subscription for the erection of a church building, and a meeting was held July 24, 1889, for the purpose of becoming incorporated as a religious body, under the laws of the State, in order to enable the society to buy and hold property and transact business. The organization was perfected, the name adopted being "The Church of Christ at Aurora, Nebraska." The following were the officers elected: Trustees, A. W. Agee (president of the board), W. P. Hellings, W. S. Harlan, Nelson Kutch, and W. R. Smith; clerk, A. W. Hickman; treasurer, W. R. Smith. At this meeting the trustees were authorized to purchase a site for the erection of a church. A site was accordingly secured, just one block west of the southwest corner of the public square, one of the finest locations in the city, and arrangements were at once made for the erection of a handsome brick edifice 36x75 feet. The corner-stone was laid October 28, 1889, and the building enclosed during the fall, but on account of cold weather it was not completed until the following spring. This is the best and most commodious church edifice in the city. In connection with the church, the Aurora Christian Sunday-school was organized July 24, 1887. It has had a very successful existence, and is the second, in point of membership, in the county. The disadvantaged under which both church and Sunday-school have labored, for want of a suitable place of meeting, are now obviated by comfortable and convenient quarters, and, doubtless, the numbers in church and school will soon be greatly increased. The officers of the Sunday-school are A. N. Thomas, superintendent; A. W. Agee, assistant-superintendent; J. G. Baeschlin, secretary and treasurer, and Belle McCord, organist. Since September, 1889, A. W. Agee has been acting in the capacity of superintendent, A. N. Thomas having taken charge of the Bible-class.
Largely as the various religious denominations are represented the benevolent and secret societies are still more fully represented, no fewer than twelve orders having organizations in the city.
Of the secret societies Aurora Lodge No. 68, A. F. & A. M., was organized under a dispensation granted February 10, 1876, and received its charter June 9, 1878. The following were the charter members and officers: J. S. Miller, W. H.; T. A. McKay, S. W.; J. H. Helms, J. W.; W. H. Streeter, Darius Wilcox, W. K. Ream, T. H. Glover, E. J. Hainer, W. L. Whittemore, Benjamin Freed, M. Hagarity, John Tweedy and S. S. Hayden. Regular meetings of the lodge were held on the first and third Saturdays of each month and for a time prospered finely. But unfortunately the old animosities engendered during the county seat fight began to show themselves, and a spirit of jealousy and back-biting sprang up between its members, which for a time destroyed the harmony and prosperity of the lodge, and almost caused its complete disruption. Still the lodge managed to keep up a nominal existence, meeting occasionally, until within and during the past six or seven years it has become united and prosperous. During the past year the Temple-Craft Associaton, an incorporation of this city, erected a fine substantial brick block on the west side of the public square, occupying Lots 19, 20 and 21 of Block 19, at a cost of $25,000, in which there are an elegant and commodious lodge room, banquet hall, reception rooms, etc. An associaton composed of the A. F & A. M., K. of P., A. O. U. W. and G. A. R., furnished the lodge-rooms throughout with beautiful, tastefully arranged appointments, affording the lodgers using the hall a delightful and comfortable place of meeting. The lodge is in a sound financial con-
dition, owning a two-fifths interest in the lodge furnishings, and considerable stock in the Temple Craft Block.
The present membership is sixty-nine, and the officer are P. M. Green, W. M.; E. A. Steenburg, S. W.; W. F. Gooden, J. W.; W. H. Alden, secretary. Regular meetings are held on the first and second Tuesdays of each month.
Shekinah Chapter No. 32, royal Arch Masons, was organized May 14, 1885, with twenty-two charter members and the following officers: W. R. Bell, M. E. H. P.; D. Bates, king; J. N. Cassell, scribe; I. N. Jones, C. of H.; F. J. Bricker, R. A. C.; E. J. Hainer, P. S.; J. W. Jones, G. M. 1st V.; F. G. Buchan, G. M. 2d V.; A. S. Crosby, G. M. 3d V.; Adolph Reuber, T.; William P. Hellings, recorder, and W. H. Streeter, teasurer. The organization is highly prosperous and in excellent financial condition. It has a membership of thirty-one, and holds regular meetings on the third and fourth Tuesdays of each month. The officers at present are W. H. Alden, H. P.; W. F. Gooden, king; F. J. Bricker, scribe; J. D. Ferguson, Jr., treasurer; D. Bates, secretary; W. P. Hellings, C. of H.; S. W. Bell, R. A. C.; S. E. Stilson, P.S.; J. N. Cassell, M 3d V.; D. R. Noble, M 2d V.; F. G. Buchan, M 1st V.; A. D. Travis, S.
Hamilton Lodge, No. 60, I. O. O. F., was organized under a dispensation granted June 1, 1876, with the following charter members; T. A. McKay, E. B. Hoyt, A. W. Agee, H. G. Cass, L. M. Reber, Simeon Snow, James M. May, T. C. Klumb, W. K. Ream and W. L. Warn. The first officers were T. A. McKay, N. G.; Simeon Snow, V. G.; A. W. Agee, secretary, and Levi M. Reber, treasurer.
For a time the lodge flourished, and added largely to its membership, when divisions began to creep into the lodge and obstructed its harmonious working and for a time seriously retarded its growth. After this spirit had been eliminated, the lodge again entered on a more prosperous era.
The society holds its meetings in the hall over Mather's hardware store. It has a present membership of fifty-one, and the present officers are: H. G. Cass, N. G.; H. Luff, V. G.; L. W. Hastings, R. S.; M. W. Walsh, P. S.; Fritz Hoefer, treasurer.
Zach Chandler Post No. 44, G. A. R., was organized April 16, 1880, with the following charter members: J. S. Miller, major, Eleventh Wisconsin Infantry; J. M. Fodge, private, Company H, First Iowa Calvary; Delavan Bates, colonel, Company I, One Hundred and Twenty-first New York Infantry; C. H. Kimball, private, Company E, First Iowa Infantry; Louis Kelly, private, Company I, Forty-sixty Indiana Infantry; L. W. Hastings, private, Company G, Sixth Iowa Infantry; R. A. Ingalls, private, Company K, Second Minnesota Infantry; E. D. Preston, private, Company E, Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Infantry; D. A. Scovill, private, Company A, Forty sixth Illinois Infantry; A. V. B. Peck, private, Company A, Forty-sixth Illinois Infantry; Joshua Norton, Jr., first lieutenant, Clark's rifles; J. L. Trobee, private, Company K, Sixth Iowa Infantry; W. W. Trobee, private, Company K, Fourteenth Iowa Infantry; William S. Strain, private, Company I, Tenth Iowa Infantry; Robert Miller, private, Company A, Sixty-second Pennsylvania Infantry; L. C. Predmore, private, Company G, Eighth Indiana Infantry; T. A. McKay, private, Company H, Twelfth Michigan Infantry; W.,C. Preston, private, Company C Twelfth New York Cavalry; L. Isaman, private, Company F, Fourteenth Iowa Infantry; W. H. Pinnell, private, Company C, One Hundred and Fiftieth Illinois Infantry; C. J. Agee, private, Company H, Twenty-fourth Indiana Infantry; S. S. Hayden, private, Company B, Thirty-seventh Illinois Infantry; A. E. Cheeney, private, Company H, Twentieth Wisconsin Infantry; W. A. Johnson, private, Company D, Seventh Iowa Cavalry; J. W. Thiery, private, Company E, One Hundred and Thirtieth Ohio Infantry; W. L. Whittemore, private, Company H, Thirty-first Iowa Infantry.
The post was mustered in by Adjt. Gen. J. S. Woods, of Omaha, and the first officers elected were Maj. J. S. Miller, P. C.; Brig. Gen. Delevan Bates, S. V. C.; E. D. Preston, J. V. C.; A. V. B. Peck, Chaplain; T. A. McKay, O. M.; J. M. Fodge, O. D.; D. A. Scovill, adjutant; T. L. Myers, surgeon.
The post has a present membership of forty-
four and is in good working condition, and sound financially.
Regular meetings are held on the first and third Wednesday of each month, in the lodge room of Temple Block. The following are the present officers: Thomas Smith, P. C.; L. D. Ellsworth, S. V. C.; H. F. Williamson, chaplain; J. W. Elarton, Q. M.; C. P. Brigham, O. D.; N. C. Neihardt, O. G.; CApt. J. N. Cassell, adjutant.
Zach Chandler Woman's Relief Corps No. 36, at Aurora, was organized September 3, 1885, with sixty charter members and the following officers: Mrs. C. A. Bacon, president; Mrs. L. A. Bates, junior vice-president; Mrs. Ella Elarton, secretary; Mrs. Carrie E. Noble, treasurer; Mrs. Hannah J. Myers, chaplain; Mrs. Tweedy, conductor; Miss Laura Oyler, guard, and including the above-named officers a total membership of seventy-two.
Since the date of organization the presidents have been Mrs. C. A. Bacon, Mrs. L. B. Reynolds, Mrs. L. A. Bates and Mrs. Ella Elarton; secretaries, Mrs. E. Elarton, Mrs. M. A. Goodrick and Mrs. T. A. Pinnell. The corps meet on the first and third Wednesdays of each month in the Temple Block. It has now a membership of forty-two, with the following-named officers: Mrs. Ella Elarton, president; Mrs. Ellsworth, senior vice-president; Anna Hastings, junior vice-president; Mrs. William Walters, treasurer; Mrs. Connor, conductor; Mrs. Soverin, guard, and Mrs. T. A. Pinnell, secretary.
Zach Chandler Camp No. 18, Aurora, Neb., was organized July 14, 1884, with the following members: L. A. McKay, M. J. Gavan, O. E. Peck, D. M. Waite, P. Moore, John Machamer, William Douglass, W. E. Reber, John Work and Henry Short. The organization flourished for about three years, when so many had either gone away or lost interest, that it was concluded to surrender their charter, which was accordingly done.
Mystic Lodge No. 39, of Aurora, was instituted May 7, 1885, with the following officers: George R. Kirkham, P. C.; J. R. Van Boskirk, C. C.; P. C. Westover, V. C.; James A. Wilson, prelate; W. J. Stevenson, K. of R. & S.; Myron T. Wildish, M. of E.; P. M. Green, M. of F.; L. W. Shuman, M. at A.; Robert Lamont, I. G.; James B. Rogers, O. G., and twenty-four charter members. The growth of Mystic Lodge has been steady and uniform from the first, scarcely a meeting having been held without work in one of the ranks, and the candidates have been drawn from the best material afforded by the city. The spendid accommodations offered in the Temple Block lodge rooms, which were ready for occupancy in the spring of 1889, were at once appreciated by this society, and the choice has been of great value, bringing them at once in the front rank and side by side with the A. F. & A. M.
The following list shows the names of the knights in good standing in Mystic Lodge March 1, 1890: Delavan Bates, J. E. Brodbent, S. B. Chapman, G. W. Curry, J. K. Crawford, Frank Coykendall, B. B. Crownover, Samuel Dietz, George Daniels, F. W. Eaton, W. H. Ferguson, W. H. Fairchild, W. I. Farley, D. W. Fay, W. H. Fall, W. T. Gooden, P. M. Green, H. H. Good, Will Hathaway, W. P. Hellings, C. H. Henthorn, F. W. Herman, F. P. Hough, J. W. Haworth, A. W. Hickman, Joseph Johnson, H. T. Jensen, H. M. Kellogg, H. C. Knight, Moritz Kohn, A. J. Lawrence, Robert Lamont, J. H. Lincoln, R. L. Laurie, J. E. Likes, Henry Lewis, Charles McKee, H. E. Metzger, D. L. Machamer, Henry Ocker, A. E. Peterson, Emil Roggy, J. H. Redburn, C. B. Rhodes, J. B. Rogers, Lang Sawyer, Victor Swanson, J. K. Strohm, C. W. Strohm, Ira Swan, W. H. Snider, George Sargent, Emil Swartz, W. J. Stevenson, L. W. Shuman, M. T. Stanley, W., J. Threadkill, T. W. Tate, J. L. Thomas, C. B. Troyer, J. R. Van Boskirk, H. C. Van Boskierk, T E. Valentine, C. J. Vandell, G. B. Williamson, Frank Wilson, G. G Williams, Robert Waddle, Dan Waite, W. F. Walters, M. T. Wildish, J. A. Whitmoe, J. A. Wilson.
For the year 1890 George B. Williamson is chancellor commander, and Delavan Bates keeper of the records and seal. But one death has oc-
curred in the lodge since its institution, that of W. F. Kauffman in 1886. This society, in addition to its fraternal features, gives sick and funeral benefits to its members. Young men with military aspirations can go from the lodge into the Uniform rank, and those wishing life insurance can join the Endowment rank, where the same can be obtained at cost.
Aurora Division No. 7, Uniform Rank K. of P. was instituted at Aurora, Neb., February 6, 1886, with twenty-eight members, and the following officers: Delavan Bates, sir knight commander; L. W. Shuman, sir knight lieutenant-commander, M. T. Wildish, sir knight herald; H. M. Kellogg, sir knight recorder; J. B. Rogers, sir knight treasurer; G. W. Curry, sir knight guard; W. J. Stevenson, sir knight sentinel.
Aurora Lodge No. 6, A. O. U. W., was organized November 1, 1882, with the following officers and charter members: M. Kohn, P. M. W.; J. H. Faris, M. W.; A. J. Rittenhouse, F.; J. W. Thiery, O.; W. S. Gunter, R.; W. F. Peck, Rec.; Fritz Hoefer, F.; Henry Sargent, G.; J. G. Burchell, I. W.; S. R. Lounsbury, O. W.; J. R. Van Boskirk, A. J. McConaughy, A. V. Peck, trustees; F. J. Bricker, Jerome Potter, Frank Myers, J. B. Myers, W. S. Harlan, Andrew Beck and Louis Troutfetler. The order is in a prosperous condition, the life insurance feature, by which each member's life is insured in the sum of $2,000 at a minimum cost, making it very popular.
The present officers are: F. M. Barnes, M. W.; O. W. Cass, F.; Robert Miller, O.; E. E. Buchlin, R.; W. J. Threadkill, F.; D. Bates, receiver; C. B. Abbott, guide; A. E. Sickman, I. W.; F. P. Graham, O. W.
Kaaba Temple, Grand Order of the Orient, was organized in 1882, with the following officers: A. J. Rittenhouse, Gr. P.S.; H. G. Cass, Gr. V.; Henry Sargent, Gr. H.; W. F. Pcek, Gr. K. of S.; J. M. Laurie, Gr. M. P. The lodge is in a flourishing and highly prosperous condition, having nearly one hundred members. The present officers are Dr. E. A. Steenburg, Gr. P. S.; Hon. W. L. Stark, Gr. V.; Dr. F. J. Bricker, Gr. P.; M. T. Wildish, Fr. P.; L. W. Shuman, Gr. H.; M. W. Walsh, Gr. K.S.; W. P. Hellings, Gr. M. P.; W. J. Threadkill, Gr. W.; T. G. Buchan, Gr. V.; Prof. John S. Musser, Gr. A. P.
The Women's Christian Temperance Union of Aurora was organized by Marion C. Baxter, of Michigan, December 3, 1883, with twenty members and the following officers: Mrs. Myra Wood, president; Mrs. A. L. Seward, recording secretary; Mrs. Mason, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Tibbetts, treasurer, and vice-presidents from each of the churches. The objects of the society are to educate public sentiment up to the standard of total abstinence, to train the young, save the inebriate, secure the legal prohibition and complete banishment of the liquor traffice. The following named ladies have occupied the president's chair; 1884, Mrs. Myra Wood; 1885, Mrs. J. P. Davidson; 1886, Mrs. Elarton, and in 1889 Mrs. C. D. Knapp, who occupies the position at the present time.
The Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor of Aurora was organized November 3, 1883, with the following officers and members: President, Frank E. Houseman; Miss Jeanie Lamont, secretary and treasurer; Jennie Waddle, H. R. Corbett, May Corbett, May Maxwell. The society has a present membership of twenty-five. Meetings are held each Sunday in the parlors of the Presbyterian Church.
The K. of P. Band was organized in 1887 with thirteen members, as follows: H. E. Metzger, instructor; Phil. Burt, J. H. Cudney, Vic Swanson, Harry Dodd, Leslie Myers, L. W. Shuman, William Whitesides, Vic Spanogle, James Work, Dick McGovern, Lourie Myers, Sam Chapman.
Musser's Orchestra was organized in 1890, and is composed of Prof. John Musser, leader; Harry Dodd, Dick McGovern, Vic Swanson, Ralter Chambers, Phil. Burt and Harry E. Metzger.