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AURORA -- The local historical society has received three more boxes of items from individuals who had shipped the first "mystery" box. Jean Doubrava Harris and husband Chuck were the origin of the first and subsequent shipments.
Chuck is a 1965 graduate of Aurora High and Jean is a 1966 graduate. Chuck grew up in Aurora and lived in the apartments on East Pioneer Trail. Jean lived at 60 E. 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. Harmons -- according to historical society president John Kudley.
The new shipments again contained priceless items. A series of letters received by the Harmons during the 1930s Depression tell the tale of several debtors who owed them money, all declaring their good intentions to repay the obligations, but were in such dire straits that they were unable to follow through.
The 1867, 69-70 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. Harmon in the 1860s, describing the evils of alcohol and the impact on American society.
The baby book of Helen Louise Harmon, born Sept. 21, 1915 gives a glimpse of her early years, along with vintage pictures. Items pertaining to the Civil War include a list of the members of Aurora's "Independent Company" (80 Aurora men who served) and three receipts for payment of $4 fines from Sherman Harmon for his "neglect to perform military service" for the years 1863-65.
Other items include additional minutes of the Aurora Reading Club from 1873; the preamble of the 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" to Lake Chautauqua on the Erie Railroad for $1.50.
The most valuable item in the shipment was the "Aurora School Record," a journal of school board actions beginning with the formation of the 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 took place in May 1853, and of the 36 qualified township voters, 18 voted for the tax and 18 against, so the issue failed.
The board then imposed a tax upon township residents to collect $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 building which is the location of the current Town Hall.
What was unknown until the journal was read was that in 1853, when the school board was formed, there were 13 sub districts (one-room school houses) created (each with a board of directors). While early maps of Aurora indicated the existence of eight, one-room schoolhouses in the township, the Board of Education also had jurisdiction over some in Bainbridge and Twinsburg that were in close 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 repair of the schoolhouses since they were routinely moved for the ease of student access. Some 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 and Museum, it is exciting to gain a greater insight into the lives of Aurora's early residents," said Kudley.
"The materials that the Harrises 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."