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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Aurelia Heritage Society Museum gets 'organized'

Monday, December 7, 2009

This vintage 1880 Estey organ is shown at its new home, the Aurelia Heritage Museum. The organ was originally purchased in Aurelia in 1911 by the family of Mrs. J.C. Lockin. Photo contributed by The Aurelia Star
AURELIA - Betty Wieland of Aurelia, a member of the Aurelia Heritage Society Board, was recently contacted by Dawn Trujillo of Webster City, regarding a possible donation to the Aurelia Heritage Museum. Trujillo had an Estey children's organ which was purchased in Aurelia in 1911 and wanted to return it to the town of Aurelia.

How did this event transpire some 99 years after the original sale? Trujillo had discovered a note inside of the organ which read:

"Aurelia, Ia Sept. 14th, 1911. - This little Estey organ was bought for Mrs. J.C. Lockin when a girl in her father's home. In trading I got in my possession and after putting a new keyboard and other necessary repairs and tuning it, I take great pleasure in presenting it to the Aurelia high school for the benefit of the primary department. May God add his blessings with its use for the advancement of His Kingdom.

"B.A. & Em Colby"

Trujillo wanted the organ returned to the town where it was originally sold, and where it had been an essential part of the music program in the school.

Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Lockin were the grandparents of Aurelia resident John Lockin and great-grandparents of Aurelia residents Brian Lockin and LeAnn Patton. Heritage Board member Lois Grigsby also reports that B.A. Colby, who signed the note found inside the organ, established a piano and organ business in Aurelia in 1883.

Mr. Colby advertised his business as follows:

"Dealer in high grade Pianos and Organs, Wholesale and Retail, from Factory to Home, No Middle Man Profit. I share with you my experience of thirty-eight years as vocal teacher, organ builder, piano tuner, and dealer."

According to the website of the Estey Organ Museum, which is located in Battleboro, Vermont, "The manufacture of the children's organs came about in conjunction with Victorian mores concerning women, families and children..."

The site also states, "Estey numbered each reed organ as it was shipped out, and by the time the company closed in the late 1950's they had built over 521,000," between the 1880s and 1950s.

The number on the donated organ in Aurelia is 34,785, indicating that it was made between 1864 and 1880.

Heritage Board member Jim Tell drove to Webster City on November 10 to pick up the organ and deliver it to its new home at the Aurelia Heritage Museum on November 10.

The Aurelia Museum, which is located next to the library on Main Street, will be open during the annual "Christmas in Aurelia" celebration on Saturday, December 12, and the public is invited to come to the museum and see the Estey organ as well as other displays, and also enjoy cookies and coffee or cider.

(Editor's note: Chronicle Times staff writer Dan Whitney contributed to this story.)

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What a great story, and how generous of Ms Trujillo to make such a significant donation. We hope the Aurelia Heritage Museum will be open during the All School Reunion in the summer of 2010. As regular volunteers at the Museum of History here in our current "home town" of Lake Havasu City, AZ, we appreciate how important museums are in preserving the history of a community. Keep up the good work!

Bill and Jackie Stutz

-- Posted by jstutz on Mon, Dec 7, 2009, at 10:13 AM

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