Florence County, Wisconsin
Florence County, Wisconsin
Much of the history of Aurora is entwined with that of Homestead. Aurora was part of the Homestead Township until 1916, when it was made a township by legislative action. During our research we found several stories as to how the separation came about. Some say that it was done by the State of Wisconsin and that the area people had little or nothing to say about the matter. After going over our findings though, we tend to believe that there was a movement in Aurora to separate from the Homestead Township. Homestead until that time was the largest township in Florence County. The actual separation took place about 1916. Feelings ran high; but a group headed by Mr. Pete Hoving succeeded, and enough land was given from the Florence Township to make Aurora a legal-sized township.
Many of the names of the people in this new township, would have to be repeated from the Homestead history, as early settlers, but by the time Aurora was formed, we could add the names of Julius Carlson, John West, John Osterberg, Gust Wahlstrom, and Andrew Engstrom. Other families of Swedish descent included the Krans family, the Ringbloms, and the Olsons. There was a German settlement of families in the area that included the Schneiders, Neuens, and the Webers. The French settlement was made by the Broullires, and the Brouilettes.
A problem came about when it was time to name the new township. Many people wanted to name it Burnsville, in honor of the family that originally settled the area. The entire area had always been referred to as Burnsville Settlement, but others favored the name Schneiderville. It was Mrs. Peter Hoving that suggested the name Aurora, and it seemed to please everyone.
--Heritage of Iron & Timber, 1880-1980, Published for Florence County, Wisconsin, under the direction of The Florence County Centennial Committee, 1980.
Attitudes of independence and generosity were behind Aurora's formation in 1916. Independence, because the settlement known as Burnsville wanted a separation from Homestead Township, which was then the largest town in the county. And generosity, because it took a gift of land from Florence Township to enable the legislative partition.
Aurora was chosen by consensus as the name over other choices, such as Schneiderville. Though women could not yet vote in 1916, it was herself a woman, Mrs. Peter Hoving, who suggested the name, derived from the goddess of the dawn and used to describe the phenomenon seen then, and now, in the night sky.
Mining, then forests and farm, were the town's mainstay. However, when the effects of the 18th Amendment's ban on alcohol hit Aurora in 1920, "most people were hopping mad," according to a summary by Carlson, Larson and Osterberg in Heritage on Iron and Timber. "Beer barrels were rolled out into the streets, split open, and drained into the gutters."
Though Aurora, with the Menominee River flowing down its side, was an ideal town to move trees for lumber operations, it was also a good place to build stills. Some used prohibition, and the money derived from its illegal sale, as an opportunity to pay debt and make a living. It is reported with certitude that alcohol made in Aurora made its way on a regular basis to Chicago gangster Al Capone.
Aurora's residents, immigrants and descendants of Sweden, German and France, were also a spiritual bunch. The Aurora Free Church, also called everybody's church because it evolved from the faiths of Lutherans, Mission Covenant, and other denominations, was incorporated in 1906. Sacred Heart Catholic Church was officially incorporated in 1926, with the work done entirely by parishioners, donations of time and materials.
By 1934, with the mines and illegal stills obsolete, citizens focused their energies on farming and logging. Today, timber and dairy farms remain integral industry in Aurora. Also, restaurants, bars and sales of spirits all help prop the Aurora economy.
The sturdy, proud spirit of this town of 1,036 residents persists. The original Town Hall is still used for town meetings. Its restaurants and bars are a popular destination for neighboring Michiganders. Its citizens support each other in their businesses, churches, and with a thriving all-volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department.
--Florence County Chamber of Commerce, 2013 Visitor Guide
Aurora in the News
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