Just Yesterday, The Crescent Brewery

Crescent Brewing Company Depot

 

“Our distilleries are the best and our breweries cannot be beaten. So great is the demand of the Crescent Brewing Company of Aurora, that the Big Four R.R. has built a track from Lawrenceburg a distance of four miles, for its trade.”

 



The Gaff brothers arrived in Aurora in the mid 1800’s: James arrived in 1841, Thomas in 1843, and John followed in 1845.  Upon their arrival, they were already promising young businessmen. When Thomas was young, he learned the distilling business from a Brooklyn uncle named Charles Wilson, and he and his brothers, James and John, opened a distillery in Philadelphia.  After moving to Aurora,  Thomas and James established the Aurora Distilling Company, later renaming it the T. & J.W. Gaff & Company. This distillery was located in the building that is now known as Aurora Recycling, 306 Importing Street, and manufactured rye, bourbon and Thistle Dew scotch whiskey

Crescent Brewing Company

The brothers then turned their interests to brewing. In 1873 the Crescent Brewery was constructed by Charles Bauer. The brewery was a six-story stone and brick building and encompassed a significant section of early Aurora. It contained 1,700,000 bricks and was located at what is now known as the intersection of Decatur, Market and Fifth streets. At this time, the gentlemen reorganized themselves as the Crescent Brewing Company. The brewery was well known for its Aurora Lager Beer which they exported nationally and internationally. It was known to be shipped as far away as Germany.

Thomas Gaff Pumper

In 1876, Thomas Gaff purchased Aurora’s first fire engine. It was named the Thomas Gaff in his honor. In 1891, the brewery experienced a terrible explosion and fire which killed two employees. The Thomas Gaff established a world steam engine record of pumping water continuously for 72 straight hours to extinguish this fire.  

During the 1890’s, the Cincinnati Breweries Company took over the Crescent Brewery and in 1885 it reorganized as The Jung Brewing Company.  This company was very short lived and the business and buildings were vacated by 1911. Left vacant and abandoned the buildings fell into disrepair and were demolished by 1930.  Today, 148 years later, only remnants of the brewery remain – the wall and sidewalk located on the right side of Market Street and the two large caverns tucked into the hillside between Market and Decatur. The caverns still can be viewed across the street from Aurora’s Lesko Park and someday soon. may be revitalized as home to the Crescent Brewery Park.

Cavern Remains

Today, Aurora again has The Crescent Brewery and Aurora Lager Beer.  In 2008, Dan and Lani Valas opened Great Crescent Brewery in a small store on Second Street.  Today they have expanded to a historic building which in 1843 was the warehouse for the Thomas and J.W. Gaff Distillery.  Ironically the brewery is located across from what remains of the Gaff’s Aurora Distilling Company, recognized today as Aurora Recycling.

These are but a few of the fascinating facts about the Great Crescent Brewery and the Gaffs, both very important in early Aurora history.  Visit our Local History Library @ The Depot to learn more about this and other contributions the Gaffs made to Aurora. The Local History Library is located at 510 Second Street near the railroad tracks. The hours are Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM and the third Saturday of the month 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Come with your questions and plan on visiting for awhile!

 

 

 

 

Just Yesterday: The 1937 Flood

The recorded history of the Ohio began in the late 17th century when French explorers reached the Ohio River, a river the Iroquois called O-y-o or “great river”. For many years the majestic Ohio has bestowed Aurora its many gifts along with its rage. Through the years Aurora has experienced numerous floods gifted us by the great Ohio; 1881, 1883, 1913, and 1993, just to name a few.  The most memorable one was in January 1937.

The 1937 Flood is one of the greatest disasters in Aurora history. The heavy rain began on January 9th and continued through January 23rd stopping for only brief intervals. This, combined with melting snow, raised the river well above flood stage. Aurora, along with communities throughout the Ohio Valley, was overwhelmed, without electricity, and short on basic needs. The scale of this flood surpassed all previous floods and left extensive damage throughout the town. Cleanup and reconstruction began immediately, but unfortunately took years to complete.

In 1937, the water level at its highest was 81 feet, reached to the front door of the Aurora Public Library, and forced our library to close. There was no loss of books but there was heavy loss of materials stored in the basement. Also, the flood affected the train depot which now houses the Local History Library. In 1937, the building was a working train depot and the railroad tracks were owned by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Both libraries have the plate showing the height of the water on the building.

The Baptist Church, a large brick church on Main Street was finished in 1875.  It was one of the finest churches in southern Indiana. The Church survived the ’37 flood waters only to be destroyed by a fire June 4, 1937, due to electrical damage caused by the devastating flood.  For over a year, Sunday morning services were held in the Palace Theater (currently the Fusion Salon & Day Spa) on Second Street. 

These are just a few of the intriguing facts about Aurora during the 1937 Flood.  Visit our Local History Library @ The Depot to learn more about this and other floods that plagued our city throughout the years.  The Local History Library is located at 510 Second Street near the railroad tracks.  The hours are Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM and the third Saturday of the month 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.  Come with your questions and plan on visiting for awhile!

 

Talk About Aurora History Aurora High School

The building known today as the Aurora Recreational Community Center began its history as the Aurora High School.  Construction began in 1934 and the first class to graduate was 1935.  Through the years as a school this building had two new additions and two major fires.

*Have you ever wondered why the ball fields next to the school were called Taylor’s Fields?

*Who was the last person to graduate from the school?

*Why were there dead spots in the school’s gym?

These and many more answers will be revealed in the new season of the 2020 Talk About Aurora History when the history of the Aurora High School will be the topic of discussion.

Due to an expected larger than normal attendance, the Aurora High School program will be held at the Aurora High School Museum, 232 Main Street in Aurora.

Talk About Aurora History is a roundtable discussion held several times a year at the Local History Library @ The Depot located at 510 Second Street.  This very successful program is free, begins at 6:00 and is open to the public.  This program has become an interesting event for those who are local history buffs and is also helpful to those new to the community searching for details of Aurora.  In addition, it provides humor as the attendees share their own folklore.  New topic suggestions are always welcome.

Aurora High School

Tuesday March 24, 2020

6:00 PM

Please, come and join us for an educational and entertaining evening.

 

 

 

 

 

Early People From Aurora Who Helped Make Cincinnati Famous

Talk about Aurora History is a roundtable discussion held four times a year at the Local History Library at the Depot. This program is conducted by Roy Lambert who recently presented his 100th Talk.  This program has proven to be very successful, and it may be that this is the only library in the area holding this type of historical roundtable.

This is quite an interesting event for those who are local history buffs and is also helpful to those new to the community searching for details of Aurora.  And, of course, it provides humor, as the attendees share their own folklore.

Various subjects are discussed.  Some past events have included churches, doctors, schools, ferries, businesses, World War II, even caves and the Underground Railroad. Our topic this month is Early People From Aurora Who Helped Make Cincinnati Famous.  Talk About Aurora History begins at 6:00 P.M., is open to the public, and is free of charge. New topic suggestions are always welcome.

Come and join us for an educational, but also entertaining evening on Tuesday, July 23, 2019.  Remember Talk About Aurora History is held at The Local History Library @ The Depot located at 510 Second Street.  For more information you may phone the History Library at 812-926-0646 ext. #3.

You Are Invited

In 2004, the Aurora Public Library District launched its “Talk About Aurora History” series under the late Director Mary Alice Horton.  Talk About Aurora History is a roundtable discussion held at the District’s Local History Library @ The Depot.  For the last fifteen years, Roy Lambert, local history librarian, has been the one who prepares and conducts each talk.  Various topics have been discussed, including churches, doctors, schools, ferries, businesses, wars, caves, and the Underground Railroad.  This is an interesting event for those who are local history buffs and is also helpful to those new to the community searching for details of their new home town.  The 2019 program on May 28 will be a milestone for Mr. Lambert.  On this date, he will present his 100th program.  The Talk About Aurora History series has been extraordinarily successful through the years due to Mr. Lambert’s knowledge of his home town.

You are cordially invited to our 100th celebration of Talk About Aurora History.  The celebration will be Tuesday, May 28th at 6:00 PM.  The Library is relocating this Talk to The Aurora Lions Club Building due to the number of guests expected.  Refreshments will be provided.  Roy’s topic this month will be “Lower Second Street:  The Tim Miller Building Renovation“.  Please come early to ensure a good seat!  Parking is located behind the Lions’ building.  See you there.

Continued success, Roy!

Do You Believe?

It’s a Polar Express Celebration

All Aboard the Polar Express!
The Local History Library @ The Depot invites you to a celebration of the book, “The Polar Express” written by Chris Van Allsburg.

Parents and children alike can enjoy the movie presentation of this classic on Saturday, December 8, at 1:00 PM while enjoying Polar Express treats and crafts. The event is free of charge and all are welcome. Who knows…..perhaps we will have a special visitor from the North Pole! Pajamas are perfect for this adventure but are not necessary!  The doors will open at 12:30 PM.  To ensure seating, please come early.

Do you believe?

Polar Express 

The Local History Library @ The Depot

 510 Second Street

 Saturday, December 8, 2018

 1:00 PM

Santa Claus Indiana — The One And Only!

Santa Claus is a small town located in Spencer County in the southwestern part of the state of Indiana. The town was founded in 1854 and was named Santa Fe (pronounced fee). The story of how it became known as Santa Claus has roots both in fact and fiction. In 1856, the town applied for a post office under the name of Santa Fe. The application was returned with the directions to choose a different name as the town of Santa Fe, Indiana had already been established with the United States Postal Service. There are different versions of the story and there were other choices that the town did not settle upon. The story that appears most often is that the small area of Spencer County was settled in the 1840’s by German immigrants who were too busy to name it.  They put off naming the town so long that the people in nearby cities referred to it as “The Nameless Town.” In 1892, the residents met at a log church on Christmas Eve to select a name. During the deliberations, the doors of the church blew open and sleigh bells could be heard in the distance, causing the little ones to shout, “It’s Santa Claus!” According to legend, the decision was made to go with that. What is known is that in 1856, the name of Santa Claus was accepted by the United States Postal Service.

In 1895, the post office changed the name to one word Santaclaus. The small town went unnoticed until the 1920s, when Postmaster James Martin began promoting the Santa Claus postmark. On February 17, 1928, the name was changed back to Santa Claus and it was then decided that there would never ever be another Santa Claus Post Office in the United States due to the inpouring of holiday mail and the staffing issues it causes. The growing volume of holiday mail became so massive that it drew the attention of Robert Ripley in 1929, who featured the town’s post office in his nationally syndicated Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

On August 3, 1946, industrialist Louis J. Koch opened Santa Claus Land, which is claimed to be the world’s first theme park. The park’s name was changed to Holiday World in 1984. In 1993, it became Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari when a water park named Splashin’ Safari was added to the park. Still owned and operated by the Koch family, it attracts more than one million visitors each year, and is home to The Voyage, which has repeatedly been voted by coaster enthusiasts the number one wooden roller coaster in the world.
In 2005, a local development company purchased Santa’s Candy Castle in addition to other buildings that comprised Santa Claus Town and announced plans to restore and re-open them to the public. When its doors opened on July 1, 2006, Santa’s Candy Castle was the first building of the original town to be re-opened. The 40-ton, 22-foot concrete Santa Claus statue was restored in 2011. In 2012, a local historic church and the town’s original post office were moved to the site next to the large Santa Claus statue.

History of Thanksgiving In Indiana

Thanksgiving is considered an American holiday.  Just the word Thanksgiving brings to mind images of turkey with stuffing, pumpkin pie, family, football, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag,  the founders of the holiday.

In 1817, New York became the very first state to officially declare the Thanksgiving holiday, a day to give thanks for the harvest and the prosperity of our new nation.  The practice of celebrating Thanksgiving quickly spread through the midwestern and northern states with each state holding its own celebration on a different day.  Thanksgiving in Indiana began in 1837 when then Governor Noah Noble proclaimed December 7th as the state’s first Thanksgiving Day.  All the stores were closed and Indianapolis was in great harmony.  In the evening, a benefit for the poor was held at the city’s Methodist Episcopal church in which all the churches joined.  The day was judged “a happy day.”  By 1857, Indiana had begun to celebrate the holiday on the same Thursday every November and in 1863 joined the northern states in celebrating a national Thanksgiving Day declared by President Abraham Lincoln.

The month of November holds another national holiday.  National Indian Pudding Day is a day to celebrate and enjoy puddings created by the Native American Indians and is celebrated each year on November 13.  To celebrate this day in November before Thanksgiving is appropriate as the Native American Indians were a part of our first feast.  Indian puddings are a number of recipes of native American Indian origin.  They may include molasses, cornmeal and dried fruits as ingredients and are usually baked.

The Library invites you to join us at the Local History Library @ The Depot on Tuesday, November 13 to celebrate with us National Indian Pudding Day.  We will have pudding to sample while supplies last and recipes to take home with you.  Who knows…..Indian Pudding just may be part of your Thanksgiving feast this year.

Indians & Mounds

Hopewell Indians

Indians & Mounds

He’s back………!!!
Glenn Cunningham will be visiting the Local History Library @ The Depot on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. Many have requested another visit from Glenn and the Library has listened.  Glenn visited The Depot as a guest speaker with his collection of Indian artifacts two years ago.

Glenn is a retired Navy veteran whose hobby is the history of local Indian tribes, Indian mounds and their relics. He will share his vast knowledge with you along with part of his very own collection of relics. If you wish to bring your own, he will try to identify them for you.  Take a moment to locate your calendar and mark the date.  On the 23rd, grab a friend and come spend the evening with us @ The Depot.

 

Indians & Mounds

 Tuesday, October 23, 2018 @ 6:00 P.M.

 Local History Library @ The Depot

510 Second Street

 

Our Veterans, Our Freedom, Our Country, Not One Without The Others

A Veteran is a person who fell in love with our country.  A Veteran is a person who is willing to lay down their life for our country so we may breathe free and enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of our own happiness.  A Veteran is a person who does what he/she MUST in spite of consequences, obstacles, pressures and dangers for the best of all humanity.  A Veteran is a person who gets emotional when he/she sees our beloved American flag and one who will fight to protect the flag from those who dare to dishonor it.  A Veteran – whether active duty, discharged, retired, or reserve – is a person who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America” for an amount of up to and including his/her own life.  That is honor in its highest form.  A Veteran is one deserving of our appreciation,  love, support and prayers 365 days a year. This is just a small insight as to why we, as a country, celebrate Veteran’s Day.

Veteran’s Day is an official United States public holiday observed on November 11th that honors persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. This national holiday also marks the end of the major hostilities of World War I which formally ended at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Armistice with Germany officially went into effect. In 1926, Congress declared November 11th as Armistice Day.  This day became a national holiday by act of Congress in 1938.  The United States observed Armistice Day until 1954 when President Dwight D, Eisenhower signed the law which changed the name from Armistice Day and established November 11th each year as Veteran’s Day.  World War II veteran Raymond Weeks organized the first National Veteran’s Day ceremony.  This ceremony was held in Birmingham, Alabama on November 11, 1947.

We have all heard the phrase – freedom is not free.  Following is the price The United States Military has paid for our freedom:

*American Revolution, (1775-1783) – 4,435 casualties

*War of 1812, (1812-1815) – 2,260 casualties

*World War I, (1917-1918) – 116,516 casualties

*World War II, (1941-1945) – 405,399 casualties

*Korean War, (1950-1953) – 36,574 casualties

*Vietnam War, (1964-1975) – 58,220 casualties

*Desert Shield/Desert Storm, (1990-1991) – 383 casualties

*Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom, (October 2001-present day) – 6,775 casualties

The city of Aurora and surrounding cities have contributed to this price of freedom.  Visit your Local History and Genealogy Library @ The Depot for stories of our local heroes.  If you wish to share your story with us, we have forms available.

Remember our every day freedom is due to the sacrifice of our Veterans and our United State Military.  Take a moment to say “THANKS”!