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Look back on Aurora: Pilot tests and top judges

New poster designed by Neal Ormond IV for 175th anniversary (2012) Aurora. | AurorHistorical Society

New poster designed by Neal Ormond IV for the 175th anniversary (2012) of Aurora. | Aurora Historical Society

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Updated: October 11, 2012 6:04AM

Aurora is celebrating its 175th birthday this year. More information is available at To commemorate the anniversary, The Beacon-News is revisiting stories from 50, 100 and 150 years ago. Here’s what Aurorans were talking about this week ...

…in 1862.

Kane County was asked to send six delegates to the state’s nominating convention in Springfield. The delegates would vote on a state treasurer, superintendent of public instruction and congressmen. The delegates should be people who “endorse the present administration in all its efforts to crush the existing rebellion against the Government, by enforcing laws, and who are in favor of confiscating, under the laws of Congress, every description of property owned by the rebels; also of using all means known to civilized warfare for subduing the rebellion and punishing traitors, thereby saving the Union and Constitution.” No other qualification was mentioned.

… in 1912.

U.S. Army Col. George Percival Scriven was standing on a bridge in downtown Aurora, waving an American flag at airplanes passing over the downtown business district. Scriven was sent to Aurora to ensure the three pilots who were trying to get their superior flying licenses completed a Cicero-to-Aurora round trip. Anyone who received the superior license would be eligible to compete in contests anywhere in the world.

The pilots being tested flew at the same time, following the Burlington railroad tracks from Cicero. They would circle around the west end of the Fox and New York streets bridges — where Scriven was waving — then fly over River and Lake streets back toward Cicero. The pilots could not turn toward Cicero until Scriven game them a certain signal with the flag.

Other aviators could receive an ordinary license by flying to 200 feet altitude and completing a figure-8 in the air. These license would allow the aviator to compete in minor contests, but not do any difficult tricks.

… in 1962.

Aurora resident Roy Solfisburg Jr. became the first Kane County resident ever to serve as chief justice of the Illinois State Supreme Court. Solfisburg was born in Aurora and attended East Aurora High School. When Solfisburg was elected to the state Supreme Court 1960, it was first time a sitting judge was defeated by a challenger.

After he graduated from University of Illinois Law School, he worked as an attorney for 16 years before being selected as a circuit judge. He would eventually serve two terms as chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

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