Aurora 6th Graders Journey through Yesterday
Today is History Day for the Aurora Middle School sixth graders, and they took a journey through yesterday at the Plainsman Museum.
The 7-part tour is not just a journey about Aurora or Hamilton County - it's an opportunity to get the overall feel of what it was like to be a pioneer, what settlements and life were like. Played out by a group of dedicated volunteer tour guides, the journey begins at the covered wagon and heads down the boardwalk.
PART ONE - THE BOARDWALK
tour by Bonnie Kruse
The boardwalk tells the stories of the way people lived in their houses and towns, from a log house to a sod house to a Victorian home. The boardwalk, which is bordered by 14 historical places of business, a simulation of the earliest established businesses in Aurora, Nebraska. The names above each shop are the names of actual shops that were in downtown Aurora from saddles and harnesses to musical instruments to hats, from barbers and dentists and lawyers, to the jail, bank and movie house.
PART TWO - A BIT OF BETTER BUTTER
activity by Lynne Nylander and Marcia Spiehs
From the boardwalk, the students made their way to the back of the rotunda and found a butter-making table, where Lynne Nylander and Marcia Spiehs taught them how to shake their way into creamy buttery goodness on a cracker.
PART THREE - HISTORICAL GAMES
activities by Bev Tollefsen & Claire Frevert
Students get a little time off for a little fun and games with an historical twist. Remember Pickup Sticks, Tiddly Winks, Buzz Saw, Jacob's Ladder and the ever-so difficult Cup and Ball? Remember marbles and jacks?
PART FOUR - THE AGRICULTURE BUILDING
tour by Marlin Seeman
Outside and across the street east, the journey continued over to the Agricultural Building, where former Aurora mayor Marlin Seeman guided the students back to when there were no cell phones or internet to look up information - you had to walk over to the county extension office to find out best farming practices. And you couldn't buy sugar without first milking the cow!
PART FIVE - ONE ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE
tour by Roberta Cool
Volunteer tour guide Roberta Cool demonstrates the life of the student in the pioneer era.
In the one room, District 66 school house - built in 1894 and closed in the spring of 1954 - contains the original desks, clock, pictures, piano, maps, glove, book cabinets, and more used but the students the final years it was in operation. The school was originally located southwest of Aurora.
The school is frequently used in the spring by several area and local schools for the experience of being pioneer children in school. Upon request, we provide a "pioneer" school teacher who uses the books and other learning materials in the schoolhouse.
PART SIX - GENERAL DELEVAN AND LANA BATES HOUSE
reenactment by Bruce Ramsour
A tour-de-force with former Aurora school teacher Bruce Ramsour in the starring role.
General Bates is important to our history, both nationally and locally. He was one of the first to lead African-American troops into battle during the American Civil War. For his actions during the Civil War, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Locally, General Bates became on of Aurora and Hamilton County's leading citizens, and was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1974.
PART SEVEN - CIVIL WAR VETERANS OF HAMILTON COUNTY
activity by Linda Ohlson
To cap the days activities and learning experiences, the students are given an obituary for a Civil War veteran, and a worksheet to fill in with information from it. This accomplishes two important tasks - generally deciphering information from one source and conveying it to another, and specifically understanding more clearly the life of a Civil War veteran. So many Civil War Veterans came to this area to establish their homesteads and families, that it is an important element of our local history. The Plainsman Museum has documented 320 Civil War veterans buried in Hamilton County.
A special thanks to all the Aurora teachers - and especially today's sixth grade teachers Micayla Dunn, Sally Hoos, Nicole Ferguson, Gordon Wilson, Keli Margritz, Kim Wanek - who work to bring history, and the history of our county and ancestors and way of life, to their students. It is our honor at the Plainsman Museum to be a part of these important lessons, and to watch as the next generation learns their stories.
The Plainsman Museum. It's not a job. It's a mission.