Aurora features a legacy of quilts and crafts that tell the story of how pioneers wove together their work, relationships, and faith to build a community and shape the American West. With hundreds of photographs, many historical and never-before published, this beautiful book celebrates the lives of a community that lived out its faith in spare yet splendid ways. For more than twenty years in a time of national turmoil, they successfully tended each other and their neighbors. And what they left behind are simple but unique American treasures:
- vibrantly-colored quilts and textiles,
- exquisitely detailed hand-crafted pieces of furniture,
- musical instruments and music composed and written in blackberry juice ink;
- a legacy of food and faith and family stories.
Through their love of landscape, their relationships caring for each other and their neighbors, their communal work to meet all their needs and have enough to give away, and through their living faith, these Oregon Aurorans inspire our own legacies and remind us that our lives write today the stories we will all leave behind.
A fantastic journey. A remarkable commitment. And a simple faith.
Wrap yourself in a riveting American tale told in beautiful stitches and craft
Master storyteller Jane Kirkpatrick extols the beautiful treasures, unknown to a wider public, rediscovered in the Old Aurora Colony of Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley. The people and legacy of Aurora, a utopian community founded in the mid-1800s, will stir your imagination, hopes, and dreams; and remind you that every life matters–every daily task, love, aspiration, and endeavor.
Unique and treasured quilt pattern variations
More than 100 photographs (many never-before published) from 1850 to today
Cherished stories from Aurora descendants
Discoveries of fine crafts from the Colony and private collections
With an introduction by renowned American Artist John Houser
Aurora is about the difference every ordinary life can make–and a beautiful celebration of a time and place in which people expressed their most cherished beliefs through the work of their imagination and hands.
Jane Kirkpatrick is the award-winning, best-selling author of two nonfiction books and fourteen novels, including All Together in One Place and the Change and Cherish historical series, which is centered around the founding of the Aurora colony. Jane is a winner of the coveted Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center and her titles have been honored by BookSense 76, Literary Guild and Crossings selections as well as finalists for the WILLA Literary Award among others.
A retired clinical social worker, Jane speaks internationally, leading retreats and inspiring others about the power of story in people’s lives. She and her husband, Jerry, live on 160 acres at the end of a rutted dirt road in eastern Oregon.
The Aurora colony was composed of Christians who believed in the words of the second book of Acts, 44-45: "All the believers were together and held all things in common. Selling their goods and possessions they gave to each according to their needs." The practiced both the Golden Rule and their "Diamond Rule" which was to make another's life better than their own. They were communal in property and possessions but not in relationships (that is, they were not polygamous nor were they connected to Joseph Smith of that same time period in any way). They were part of the Utopian movement of the mid 18 (like Amana and Shakers) hoping to practice their Christian faith in service to their community and to be relevant to the outside world in which their community was centered. They interacted with their neighbors providing services to them, often caring for widows and children and those who were ill even though they were not colonists because they believed such care was an act of Christian charity and they wanted others to see their faithfulness as a reflection of God's guidance in their community life.
“Like a master quilter, Jane Kirkpatrick has pieced together scraps of remembrances, letters, and artifacts into an intriguing history of a unique community defined by faith and craft. Quilters especially will enjoy her exploration of the domestic arts and how they enrich the lives of women, past and present.”
–Jennifer Chiaverini, author of the Elm Creek Quilts novels
“Jane Kirkpatrick is a remarkable storyteller in her historical novels, but in Aurora, she lets the quilts and crafts tell the stories of a Christian communal settlement in nineteenth century Oregon. She became intimately familiar with these stories in her research for the Change and Cherish Historical Series. This book is a welcome addition, particularly for its photographs and related information, on the history of the Aurora Colony.”
–James J. Kopp, board member of the Aurora Colony Historical Society and author of Eden within Eden: Oregon’s Utopian Heritage.
“Aurora, brings a warm remembering of one man’s effort to establish a caring, sharing community. Jane Kirkpatrick’s writing honors the skills and connected lives of a group of people who created a neighborhood, impacting their entire region. Her story inspires the readers to hone their skills, simplify their lives, and serve others. The colorful pictures bring a by-gone era to life.”
–Mary Tatem, author of the bestseller The Quilt of Life; and Beautiful Threads and The Quilt of Hope
“The Diamond Rule at Oregon’s 19th century Aurora Colony was that one should make life better for others. Using her extraordinary gift, Jane Kirkpatrick gives us a story of spirituality and creativity that enriches our lives. Through the agrarian colony’s crafts, especially its quilts, Jane recreates the lives of those pioneers who colonized the western wilderness in a spirit of perseverance, cooperation, and harmony.”
–Sandra Dallas, author of Tallgrass and The Quilt That Walked to Golden
“Jane Kirkpatrick brings the Aurora Colony alive through words and pictures. Readers are immersed in the colonists’ culture and craft. We can’t help but admire how these men and women put beauty into even the most utilitarian objects.”
–Judy Breneman, quilt historian and founder of www.womenfolk.com celebrating quilts and crafts
“A book on the quilt collection has been a longtime dream of those behind the Aurora Colony Museum. Now, with the skills of writer Jane Kirkpatrick; knowledge of curator Patrick Harris; and commitment of museum volunteers and members, this book is a reality. Enriched by the expanded focus of family, faith, and community, this project celebrates the same patient energy, perseverance, and cooperation the colonists demonstrated more than 100 years ago. Sehr Gut [very good]!”
–Mary Bywater Cross, Oregon quilt historian and author of Quilts of the Oregon Trail
“Fascinating and memorable, Jane Kirkpatrick’s Aurora gives voice to the enduring spirit of our pioneer foremothers and the work of their hands. Anyone interested in our pioneer heritage will love this book. Quilt-lovers and historians will want to add it to their libraries.”
–Stephanie Grace Whitson, author of Unbridled Dreams and A Hilltop in Tuscany; speaker, and quilt historian
“Do you often wonder what lasts after you’ve gone? Aurora, shares the legacy left by a creative community who crossed the Oregon Trail to live simply in a new land. These families were drawn together by faith, hard work, and service, as well as amazing fiber arts, crafts, and culinary delights. Delve into the beautifully-illustrated pages of this book and savor the quilts that tell a story not only of struggle and sacrifice, but also joy and journey. Then do the hard work of examining your own life and tell your own story, leaving a legacy of purpose and grace. Aurora is a reminder of what’s truly important–that, indeed, our lives are the stories others read first.”
–Lucinda Secrest McDowell, author of Quilts from Heaven and Role of a Lifetime