Aurora Timeline

The following are some landmark dates in the history of Aurora through 1974, when the city celebrated its 175th anniversary.

1799 – Ebenezer Sheldon reached Aurora and built a cabin on East Pioneer Trail near the Mantua Township line. Elias Harmon and Benjamin Tappan followed closely behind.

1802 – The first regular church service was held at the Sheldon home by the Rev. Bostwick, a Methodist minister.

1803-06 – Judge Samuel Forward, James Henry, Zeno Kent, Ebenezer Harmon, John Cochran, Capt. Phineas Perkins, Robert Bissell, Samuel Baldwin, Moses Eggleston, and Elijah Pratt were among the settlers who arrived in Aurora.

1804 – The first child, a boy, was born in Aurora to Mrs. Oliver Forward.

1807 – The first election of community officials (township trustees) took place.

1809 – The First Congregational Church was formally organized. In 1810, members voted to adopt the Presbyterian form of church government, but changed back in 1814. The first pastor was the Rev. John Seward, who served for 32 years.

1809 – Ebenezer Sheldon built the first frame house in town, which was followed closely by one for Gen. Chauncey Eggleston.

1809 – Several saw mills were built and put into operation at Aurora Station, which became known as “Slab City.” A mill started by Dea Witter operated for over 85 years.

1810 – The U.S. government established the first mail route through town. Postage was 25 cents per letter.

1811 – The first inn was built by Samuel Bissell on Eggleston Road.

1812 – Samuel Baldwin opened the first “store”, selling fabrics, and John Jackson built the first mill at Centerville Mills on what is now the YMCA camp property. Several mills sprung up nearby thereafter. During the Civil War, the Jackson farm was a station on the Underground Railroad.

1813 – Septimus Witter is believed to have erected the first commercial venture – a saw and grist mill – on the Chagrin River.

1820 – Harvey L. Baldwin Sr. took the first cargo of cheese – just less than 2,000 pounds – from Aurora to a southern market.

1823 – A brick building was erected for the Congregational Church.

1824 – The Aurora Calvary Company was organized with Harry Baldwin as captain. It was the first military unit here since the War of 1812. Aurora was well represented in the ranks of the “boys in blue” during the Civil War.

1826 – Samuel Bissell founded the Aurora Academy on the grounds of what is now the Church in Aurora.

1830 – The Aurora Disciples of Christ Church was organized. A log schoolhouse housed the church until 1934, when it was moved to the old Town Hall.

1834 – The First Regular Baptist Church of Aurora was organized. It was disbanded in 1871.

1838 – The Disciples of Christ’s first church was built across from the Congregational Church. The building burned in 1855 and was replaced by the structure which eventually became Community Hall.

1847 – The first cheese factory was opened by C.R. Howard and Harvey Eggleston at Route 82 and Eggleston Road. It went out of business after a couple years.

1849 – The Congregational Church parsonage, which still stands beside the church in Aurora, was purchased for $900.

1853-54 – The New York Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad began construction through Aurora.

1862 – Elisha and Frank Hurd built a cheese factory on Silver Creek.

1866 – The Hurds built an up-to-date cheese factory at Route 82 and Eggleston Road. Frank Hurd and W.J. Eldridge continued large-scale operations until 1921. Hurd eventually owned eight cheese factories; Eldridge, 16.

1869 – Hopson Hurd, also an early cheese baron, died, leaving an estate of more than $250,000. He was the father of Elisha and Frank.

1870 – The system of schools had grown to seven, all of the one-room variety. Also, the existing Church in Aurora was built.

1888 – A picnic grounds, dance hall and other entertainment facilities were established by Giles descendants and became known as Picnic Lake Park, the predecessor of the modern day Geauga Lake Park. On the other side of the lake was a 75-room hotel called the Kent House. About this time a full-sized steamboat plied the lake’s waters, then was moved to Brady Lake about 1907.

1890 – The first telephone line was strung up by W. H. McDonald. The Bainbridge Telephone Co. later took over the service.

1890 The Aurora Brass and Reed Band formed. Its band leader was E.F. Robison (native of Palmyra).

1898 – Herbert Carlton built a dance hall on the site of the old Centerville Mill. Also, Aurora was the first township in Portage County to adopt a centralized school system. The first such school was in the building now occupied by Town Hall. E.F. Robison, a Palmyra native, served as superintendent of Aurora Schools when the district became the first in the county to consolidate in 1898.

1899 – Aurora celebrated its centennial June 15-16.

1904 – Four million pounds of cheese was shipped from factories in Aurora, a single-year record for the nation at that time.

1905 – Aurora’s stone sidewalk was completed, running from the train station to Town Center. Also, the Aurora Bank opened.

1906 – The Plainview (Aurora) Mennonite Church was organized. It moved to its present location in 1909.

1910 – The Aurora Masonic Lodge received its charter. E.G. Root was the first master.

1912 – The Aurora Study Club was founded by Mrs. Orsa Harmon.

1913 – The Congregational and Disciples of Christ churches united to form the Federated Church.

1924 – John Gould, an Auroran who was a longtime writer for “The Ohio Farmer,” died Jan 4. He was a leading spirit in the dairy industry in Ohio and nearby states, and had written many stories about the local cheese industry. Also, the original Aurora Inn was built. It was destroyed by fire in 1963 and rebuilt one year later as the Treadway Inn.

1927 – The Order of the Eastern Star chapter was founded, with Edith Harmon as worthy matron and Edward Biggar as worthy patron.

1929 – The village of Aurora was founded in the center of Aurora Township, with the first mayor being Lee Gould.

1933 – The Federated Church became the Church in Aurora.

1940 – John Morrison was the first state legislator from Aurora, serving in the Senate.

1942 – The Geauga Lake Community Church was organized

1947 – An elementary school building eventually named Craddock was built on Hurd Road behind the old high school. Another wing later was added. Also, New Life Assembly of God Church was organized.

1949 – John I. Eldridge chaired the sesquicentennial celebration committee. Seabury Ford was master of ceremonies for the opening event.

1955 – Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church was organized. The Rev. Lavelle was pastor. The United Methodist Church was organized about the same time, and its building was erected in 1962

1957 – Homes began to be built in the Robinhood and Sherwood drives neighborhood, which was then still in Aurora Township. Shortly after, the remaining township areas were annexed to the village.

Our Lady Of Perpetual Help Church Building Moved From Solon, Ohio To Chillicothe Road

Aurora Methodist Church Organized

Aurora Purchases First City Owned Police Car

September 21, 1958 Aurora Annexation Of Township Creating A 25 Square Mile Village

December 15, 1959 Mayor John I. Eldridge retires from political life.

January 1, 1960 Aurora Adopts Charter Form Of Government With Nine Councilman—Three At Large And Six Wards

1960 Aurora Population 6,476 Residents

1961 – Lake School, now Valley Christian Academy, was built. It became VCA in the late 1980s. Also, ground was broken for the Four Seasons subdivision

1963 – The Community Improvement Corp. was formed and 1,200 acres in the southern part of town were designed as an industrial park. Some of the early tenants were Custom Beverage Packers, R. J. R. Filmco, and Fashion Two Twenty. Also, Spancete was erected on Treat Road.

February 13, 1963 Treadway Inn Burns Down (The Aurora Inn On Garfield Road)

1963 – Fire Department Chief Harry Cooper

1964 – The first section of Aurora Library was built. Additions followed in 1969, 1971, and 1991.

1962 Four Seasons Development Started

July 1963 East Ohio Gas Comes To Aurora

May 1, 1965 New Post Office Building Dedicated

1966 Harry L. Griffith is Mayor of the Village of Aurora

September 18, 1966 Library Dedicated

February 10, 1967 Aurora’s Filmco, Inc, one of Portage County’s fastest growing industries has been acquired by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for 560,000 shares of Reynolds stock valued at $22.4 million.

June 13, 1967 Cleveland Open Held At The Aurora Country Club

July 13, 1967 First Cleveland Open Also Held In 1968 And 1970

November 29, 1967 Aurora Council passed an ordinance to permit construction of a $100,000 addition to the Aurora Memorial Library. Money for the extension was donated to the library in the will of Kitty Riley Wheeler.

1967 – Miller School was built, and named after longtime educator Harold Miller.

1965 – The new high school was completed. An addition was finished in 1997. The post office in East Garfield Road opened; it moved to Aurora Commons in 1991.

1967 – The Masonic Temple on West Pioneer Trail was erected. Also, the Cleveland Open gold tournament took place at Aurora Country Club

1968 – The Aurora Historical Society was founded, with six charter members.

Late 1960s – Homes began to be erected in the Highlands by Dick Shaw, Walden by Manny Barenholtz, Chatham Estates and Aurora Shores. Also, Anice Johnson became Aurora’s first state representative, and was elected to the state Senate in 1972. Ann Womer Benjamin followed in 1994 as a state rep.

1969 – Hope Lutheran Church was organized. The general store originally known as Harmon’s ceased operations after 137 years.

1970 – Toll-free calling to Cleveland began. The late Ralph Keidel and his sons Greg and Ken began publishing the Aurora Advocate. Sea World of Ohio opened.

Early 1970s – Manny Barenholtz began developing Walden. The state of Ohio dedicated Tinker’s Creek State Park and City Council purchased Sunny Lake Park.

January 1, 1970 Aurora Creates First Full-Time Fire Department With Three Men

1970 George B. Hettinger Is Mayor

1970 Chief Robitaille is Chief of Police

1969-1970 Members of City Council: Ray Harmon, Ward 6; Neal Anderson, Ward 4; Elizabeth Strahan, Ward 1; William Hartman, Councilman-at-large; Law Director Seabury Ford; Mayor George Hettinger; Vice Mayor & Councilman-at-large Carl Sutherland; Thomas Leach, Councilman-at-large; Myron Jaremko, Ward 5; Thomas Zemba, Ward 3; & Harold Hartman, Ward 2. Absent from the picture are appointive members of the administration: Grace Troy, Finance Director & Clerk of Council; Charles Brown, Service Director; Police Chief ARt Robitaille; Fire Chief Ed Hackbart; & Parks Recreation Director Steven Griger, & Building Inspector Ralph Poad. See photo #2009.189.038.

May 15, 1970 Sea World Opens

1971 – Aurora took on city status after growing to more than 6,000 residents in the 197- U.S. Census. Also, Richard Nixon passed through town during his campaign for re-election. And Aurora’s longtime “hanging tree” in the front yard of the old Baldwin house was cut down.

1972 Mayor Neal Anderson

October 28, 1972 President Nixon Visits Aurora

1973 – Harmon School was opened for students in the middle grades. It was named after a family of early settlers, some descendants of which served on the school board several years ago

1974 – The city began receiving water from Portage County-owned wells in Shalersville. Prior to that, the city had purchased the Streetsboro Water Co. Also, Aurora Commons was completed, with Heinen’s being the anchor store, and the town marked its 175th anniversary.

January 19, 1974 175th Anniversary Dance Held At Geauga Lake Ballroom

1974 Mayor of Aurora Neal J. Anderson

1974 Aurora Farms Flea Market In Operation

December 3, 1974 Train Derailment Blocks S.R. 82 On East Garfield Road

1979 Mayor of Aurora is Mignon Donaldson

February 6, 1980 Police Chief Robitaille Honored For 23 Years As Chief

1980 Police Chief is Philip Ockunzzi

1980 Ric Mattmuller was Mayor of Aurora

February 6, 1980 Phil Ockunzzi appointed Aurora Police Chief

October 15, 1980 Aurora Police Chief Phil Ockunzzi retires.

1999-2000 – Aurora celebrated it’s bicentennial.