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Look back: Soliders’ Aid Society, safe robbery and the end of steam heat

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: December 20, 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.

A letter to the editor invited more Aurora residents to join the Soldiers’ Aid Society which meets every Thursday afternoon and evening at Hoyt’s Hall. The society was made up of young women who wanted to find a way to contribute to the war effort.

Since Aug. 7, the Society had made: 238 shirts, 68 pairs of drawers, 24 comforters, 82 pillow sacks, 82 pillow cases, two bed sacks, 39 handkerchiefs, three dressing gowns, nine towels, seven pairs of socks and 340 yards of bandages. All these items were sent to the Sanitary Commission in Chicago to comfort sick and wounded soldiers.

… in 1912.

Aurora police had been called in to dust the door of a safe for fingerprints, after the door was blown off in a Millington robbery. The safe cracksmen entered the State Bank of Millbrook and hung a lantern on the top of the building when they began to work. Police speculated that when the lantern came down, it was a signal to the getaway driver.

Police believe the robbers headed east after the heist and were able to get many miles before police could contact the surrounding towns by telephone. The robbers made off with $15,000 in papers that would be worthless to anyone but the debt holder and $500 cash. Aurora police hauled the safe door to headquarters for further inspection.

… in 1962.

Northern Illinois Gas Company had petitioned the Illinois Commerce Commission to stop distributing central steam heat to Aurora by June 1964. This action was necessary because the Edison Company, which furnished the steam to NI-Gas, was scheduled to close its Stone Avenue station in a few months. NI-Gas had been working for several years to convert customers to natural gas. In June 1960, there were 240 steam heat customers, but 70 had converted to gas since then.

The central steam heat system was installed in Aurora’s business district in 1900 by the Aurora Steam Heating Co.

They used a low-pressure boiler on Water Street to supply heat.

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