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Look back: trips to Chicago, foiled arrests and cornerstones

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: November 9, 2012 6:01AM

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.

The Ladies Aid Society arranged an excursion to Chicago, with profit from the tickets benefitting soldiers in hospitals. The fare from Sandwich, Plano, Bristol and Oswego was $1. From Aurora and Batavia, the fare was 75 cents. Children cost no more than 50 cents.

Additionally, the city posted notice that there would be an election in the Third Ward to replace the seat vacated by William Sigley, who had been called to serve in the Union Army. The polls were scheduled to be open from 8 a.m. to sundown.

… in 1912.

The Pigeon Hill boy who made good as a Chicago police officer was now facing discipline from the downtown department. Bernard Burns, born and raised in Aurora’s East Side neighborhood, joined the Chicago police force after the 1893 World’s Fair. Burns soon made a name for himself as a thief catcher and was quickly promoted to lieutenant.

However, Burns earned the ire of the Chicago department for a bungled investigation that allowed two well-known bank robbers to escape. Burns had tracked the men to a Greek saloon. When he went to pull out his revolver and make an arrest, a woman jumped in front of him. Burns was unable to shoot because of the woman’s obstruction. The two bank robbers knocked Burns unconscious with a bar stool, then escaped.

Burns did not report the incident to his bosses for four days. A review board found Burns guilty of inefficiency and fired him. The woman who interrupted Burns’ arrest turned out to be Mrs. Blanche Voit, another former Aurora resident.

… in 1962.

Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops and dozens of parishioners were on hand to bless the cornerstone for an addition to Our Lady of Good Counsel Elementary School. The Rev. Sylvester J. Eye, pastor at Good Counsel, officiated the ceremony. The addition would add eight classrooms, a gymnasium, library, music room and cafeteria to the school. It was expected to be finished by the end of the year.

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