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Issue 23 

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JOURNAL OF GREAT WATERS ASSOCIATION OF VEXILLOLOGY

May 2007                                                    Vol. XII,  No. 1, Issue 23

 

THE ACANTING@ FLAGS OF AURORA:

ILLINOIS AND OHIO

 

To borrow a term from heraldry, a Acanting@ flag is one that has a design that alludes to the name of the entity it represents.  An obvious inspiration for the design of any city named AAurora,@ then, are the rays of the rising sun, since the name is taken from the Roman goddess of the dawn. Such is the case with the Auroras of Illinois and Ohio, both of which flags show dawn=s rays.1

Aurora, Illinois

The City of Aurora, approximately 20 miles west of Chicago, can trace its beginnings to a community established on an island in the Fox River in 1834 by Joseph McCarty, who had traveled west from New York.  Soon, he was joined by his brother, Samuel.           

The original settlement was named McCarty Mills because the brothers had established a saw mill and  grist mill in the village.  When the first post office was established in 1837, the area was renamed Waubonsie after a local Potawatomi chief.  Waubonsie was one of the signers of the 1826 Treaty of the Wabash and of the Treaty of Chicago in 1832. However, there was already another settlement with that name.

One account of how Waubonsie became Aurora is that many of the settlers originally lived near East Aurora in upstate New York.  Another says that Waubonsie in the language  of the Potawatomi  means Aearly  dawn@  and the settlers simply Atranslated@ it.

The city was incorporated in 1857 and in 2003, the city=s population surpassed Rockford=s to become the second largest in Illinois.  Because of expansion, the city now lies in four counties, Kane, DuPage, Kendall and Will.  However, Aurora=s greatest notoriety may be as the home of Saturday Night Live characters Wayne Campbell and  Garth Algar who hosted their fictional show Wayne=s World on one of Aurora=s public-access cable channels.

To design a flag, the city established a selection committee and held a contest in 1967. Over 200 entries were submitted from which the committee selected five finalists and submitted them to the Mayor and aldermen.  Their final selection was adopted June 18, 1967, and sent for production, but was not to be revealed publicly until the following month.  Because of delays in the manufacturing process, the unveiling was delayed until December 18, 1967.  The winning designer was Bonnie Nigales, a 14-year-old freshman at Madonna High School.  She received the first flag and an engraved plaque from Mayor Albert McCoy.  Second place winner, Max Gimple, also received a flag.

The winning design depicts the silhouette of the city skyline in black against the blaze of a yellow aurora.  Beneath the skyline is a green valley on which is the inscription AIncorporated 1857@ in black. This is encircled by two sprigs of leaves joined at the bottom.  Around the sprigs is a blue ring and beneath is a yellow ribbon bearing the inscription AAurora Illinois@ in black.  The whole field of the flag is white. Ms. Nigales described her design saying the blue represented the peacefulness of the Fox River Valley.  The green was for the fertile lands around the city and the yellow was for the Aurora Borealis, after which the city is named. 

The city currently uses a simplified logo which adorns vehicles and letterheads. The logo appears to have been adapted from the city=s sesquicentennial logo,  which was designed in 1987 by resident Bobette Wolf.  The logo originally consisted of a semi-circle with five rays emanating from its center.  The outline of the circle is in brown.  Beneath is the word AAurora@ in blue and beneath that a large number 150.  Beside the 150 in smaller font are the dates 1837 to the left and 1987 to the right.  All the numerals are in brown.  Below that is the word Ayears@ and two wavy lines to represent the Fox River. The revised logo eliminates the numerals below the City=s name and is usually produced in one color.  While the city seal which adorns official records and documents contains a depiction of the aurora, it is different from both the flag and logo.  City records do not contain accurate information on the design of the seal or its components.} (DB)

Aurora, Ohio

Aurora, Ohio, was founded by Capt. Ebenezer Sheldon, a former Revolutionary War soldier, in 1799.  The area was then a part of the Connecticut Western Reserve.  Sheldon traveled to Ohio through Pittsburgh and was the first white man to settle in the area.  Arriving alone, he built a log cabin with the help of another recently arrived settler, Elias Harmon,  and then later brought his family from Connecticut, the first to settle in the new Aurora Township.  Gradually the township grew as more people arrived.  Dairy farming developed into the area=s early principal enterprise.  Between 1855 and 1910 Aurora enjoyed a AGolden Age of Cheese,@ which gradually  fostered a well-established town.  In 1929, Aurora achieved village status, and in 1970 became a city, with over 6,000 residents.

Aurora=s flag was adopted on March 17, 1971.  It was designed by Mrs. Dorothy Maxwell, a resident of Moreland Hills, Ohio, and winner of a contest for a new city flag.  The Middle School Art Department chose the winner, awarding Mrs. Maxwell the prize of $25, which she graciously donated to the Aurora Memorial Library for an art book.

The flag has a simple design.  The field is dark green with a large golden yellow device in the center.  The device shows the outline of a kind of equilateral triangle with its sides curved outwards.  Centered in the triangle is a rising sun with nine rays extending from it to the triangle=s top and sides, occupying the upper two-thirds of the design. Across the disc of the sun in dark green numerals is the date, 1799.  Immediately below the sun, and curved parallel to the base of the triangle is AURORA in golden yellow letters on dark green.  The three corners of the triangle represent Heritage, Progress, and Vision.  The rays, of course, represent the dawn, and the city=s name. } (JP)       

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