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Aurora, Daughter of the Dawn

A Story of New Beginnings

James J. Kopp

Afterword by Jane Kirkpatrick

5.5 × 8.5 inches. Illustrations. 72 pages.

2012. ISBN 978-0-87071-671-3. Paperback, $12.95.

“Papa says my arrival in this mortal world was a new beginning. Papa says that every day is a new beginning and every day is heralded by the dawn. Thus he chose to name me Aurora as the daughter of the dawn, for Aurora is the goddess of the dawn. But Papa is a Christian man and leads his own flock of believers so he did not want my name to be seen as some pagan symbol. Rather he wants my name and my presence here as a mortal to be a symbol of new beginnings. I like that and my life has been very full of new beginnings.” —from Aurora


As she lies ill from smallpox, thirteen-year-old Aurora recalls in her journal the important events of her short life. Though apprehensive when she learned her family would be leaving Missouri for a new home in the West, soon she was looking forward to the long journey, which finally began on May 23, 1855. She describes her family’s adventures on the Oregon Trail and her hopes for a new beginning in her new home.

Aurora is a novel based on the life of Aurora Keil, whose father William founded one of the more successful Oregon utopian communal societies in the nineteenth century on the Pudding River in Marion County in 1856. Named for his daughter, the Aurora Colony (or Aurora Mills, as it was also known) grew to a population of more than 600 individuals who followed Keil’s basic Christian beliefs. The Aurora Colony became known for its orchards, food, music, textiles, furniture, and other crafts as well as its communal lifestyle and German traditions. Readers of all ages, from middle school students to adults, will appreciate this intimate and personal glimpse into a compelling chapter in Oregon history.

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