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Look back: Soldier politicians and softball heroes

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 18, 2012 6:02AM

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.

Aurorans were rallying to nominate Fox Valley resident John Farnsworth to be the area’s representative in Congress. Farnsworth had served two terms in the U.S. House, from 1857 to 1861, then joined the Union Army. More than 500 signatures were on a letter pleading with Col. Farnsworth, who was serving in the 8th Illinois Calvary, to run for Congress. Farnsworth replied that because of his duties with the Army, he would not be able to canvass or electioneer for the position but he would accept a nomination, as he expected the war to be nearly over by the fall. Farnsworth would go on the represent the district from 1863 to 1873.

… in 1912.

A young man who admitted to robbing the White Front saloon tried to retrieve his stolen gold from the police department. Although Caleb French admitted he broke into the saloon, a grand jury refused to indict him. When he got that news, French figured the money he took must rightfully be his. So he asked the police chief to hand it over.

“You’ve got more gall than any man I have ever met,” bellowed Chief Frank Michels. “What you will get if you stick around here is a room in the big boarding house. That’s where you belong and you’re lucky you are not there now.”

French found the chief’s argument convincing and hurried away from the police station.

… in 1962.

The defending national champion Aurora Sealmasters fast-pitch softball team fell short in its bid to repeat as national champions, losing to rival 509 Club of Detroit. The end came in a 3-2 loss to Detroit at the championship tournament held in Stratford, Conn. The Sealmasters had been bolstered all season by star pitcher Harvey Sterkel, who threw a no-hitter the night before the elimination game. Sterkel’s no-hitter was his fourth of the season and 43rd since joining the Sealmasters. The Sealmasters went on to win the world title in 1966 and 1968, and national titles in 1965 and 1967. Sterkel was eventually elected to the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame.

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