More Treasures

The Historical Society has received three more boxes from the individuals who had shipped the first “Mystery” box. Jean Doubrava Harris and her husband Chuck were the origin of the first and subsequent shipments. Chuck is a 1965 graduate of Aurora High School and Jean is a 1966 graduate. Chuck grew up in Aurora and in lived in the apartments on Pioneer Trail. Jean lived at 60 East Pioneer Trail. They were high school sweethearts. Moving to a new home in Florida they were going through old possession and have discovered a wealth of items dating back to Jean’s ancestors, the C.R. Harmon’s. The new shipments again contained priceless items. A series of letters received by the Harmons during the 1930’s depression tell the tale of several debtors who owe them money, all declaring their good intentions to repay their obligations but are in such dire straits that they regret they are unable to honor them. The 1866, 67, 69, and 70 diaries of Mrs. C.R. Harmon tell a fascinating story of life in Aurora during the post-Civil War era. There is also an essay on “Temperance” written by Mrs. C.R. Harmon in the 1860s describing the evils of alcohol and the impact on American society. The Baby book of Helen Louise Harmon, born September 21, 1915 gives a glimpse of her early years along with vintage pictures. Items pertaining to the Civil War includes a list of the members of Aurora’s “Independent Company” listing the names of 80 Aurora men who served and three receipts for payment of $4.00 fines paid by Sherman Harmon for his “neglect to perform Military Service” for the years 1863, 1864, and 1865. Other items include additional minutes of the “Aurora Reading Club” from 1873; the “Preamble” of the “Aurora Thespian Dramatic Club of Aurora” c. 1870s; a handbill for the Aurora Thespians presentation of the “Hidden Hand” at the “Opera House in Aurora” on May 26 & 27, 1870; and a 1901 flyer for a “Special Excursion” for a one day roundtrip on the Erie Railroad for the cost of $1.50 to Lake Chautauqua.

The most valuable item in the shipment was the “Aurora School Record”, a journal of school board actions beginning with the formation of the school board on April 17, 1853 in compliance with a State of Ohio mandate for local townships to create boards of education. One of the first actions of the Board was to place before the electorate a bond issue to raise $200 for the construction of a central school. The election was held in May, 1853 and of the 36 qualified township voters 18 voted for the tax and 18 against with the issue failing. The Board then imposed tax upon the Township residents to collect a total of $100 to support the schools. The record covers actions of the board through the May 20, 1882 decision to build a “new school” on the same location of an existing one room school which is the location of the current Aurora City Hall. What was unknown until the journal was read that in 1853 when the school board was formed that there were 13 sub districts (one room school houses) that were created each with its own board of directors. While early maps of Aurora indicated the existence of 8 one room school houses in the Township of Aurora, the Aurora Board of Education also had jurisdiction over one room school houses in Bainbridge and Twinsburg that were in close proximity to Aurora’s borders. Over the years buildings were consolidated and the number reduced. The “Record” reports the approval of annual expenses for the moving and repairing of the school houses since they were routinely moved for the ease of access by the students. Several of the one room schools still stand today and have been converted into homes.

As a historian and in my role as director of the Aurora Historical Society & Museum it is exciting to gain a greater insight in the lives of Aurora’s early residents. The materials that the Harris’s have given to the Society are invaluable and uncover information that would have been lost forever without their generosity and a sense of the importance of what they had in their possession.