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Look back: soldiers’ aid, Christmas in jail and Moose buildings

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: January 25, 2013 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.

E.W. Blatchford, the Chicago Secretary of the Sanitary Committee, wrote to the Women’s West Aurora Soldier’s Aid Society, thanking them for their recent donation. The West Aurora group had sent a donation that included 282 shirts, 92 pillows, 94 pillow cases, 22 pairs of socks, 62 handkerchiefs, five sheets, one pair of slippers, 340 yards of bandages, one box of combs, 4 pounds of raspberries, two pounds of peaches, five pounds of cheese, 32 magazines, 67 newspapers, six books and two Bibles.

“Your magnificent box of supplies is received and will at once be forwarded where there is so much need,” Blatchford wrote. “100,000 men, before the last battle at Fredericksburg, were in hospitals calling for help. Our supplies are very low. Won’t you send out some members of your society into the neighboring towns to find true men, benevolent women, who will work as you do in an aid society?”

… in 1912.

Local residents did their best to bring a little Christmas spirit to the incarcerated. Girls and boys in local children’s detention centers were given gifts to celebrate Christmas. The 600 boys being held in St. Charles all received a pair of ice skates. The boys were allowed to spend the day skating. Prisoners in Joliet were given a sumptuous roast turkey at noon, followed by a six-act vaudeville show.

And, in Aurora, anyone being held in the city jail for petty offenses was set free. Three men who still had several days left on their sentence were let go early so they could spend Christmas at home with their families. Those who remained in the jail were served turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pickles, olives, mince pie and coffee.

… in 1962.

Warren Brothers Construction Company of Aurora was awarded the contract to build the new Aurora Moose Lodge in the West Aurora Shopping Center. The winning bid of $236,431 was accepted by all the members of the Aurora Lodge.

The new one-story brick building was expected to have a bar with seating for 55 and a large wooden dance floor. The building would need to accommodate 3,700 members of Aurora’s Moose Lodge — the ninth largest lodge in the United States.

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