Home » Missouri » Aurora

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.



Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Don’t Know
Unions, Organized Labor?
Don’t Know

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Probably Not, Although Still Very Few Black People

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1890 3482 10
1910 4148 1
1930 3875 0
1950 4153 10*
1960 4683 0
1970 5359 1
1990 6459 4
2000 7014 18

Method of Exclusion

  • Unknown

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


* In 1950 all 10 blacks reported were male.

One town which comes to mind is Aurora. I’m not sure how much of your interest lies in border states but this area also saw its share of lynchings and entire communities of African Americans run out of town. In fact, the job was so ‘well’ done that I grew up in a town (Aurora) where there were no minorities (who made themselves visible, in any case) for the 20 years in which I resided there.

The Lynching That Changed Southwest Missouri By Murray Bishoff (This is from the second part of a three part series marking the 90th an¬niversary of the August 18, 1901 murder of a young woman, Gisela Wild, in Pierce City, and the mob action that followed, affecting race relations in the area to this day.)
“When W.R. Scheldrup, who ran the pharmacy at the southeast corner of Commercial and Walnut, reported seeing a large black snake that apparently got loose from a traveling show that passed through, the Aurora Argus commented in August, 1902: “Instead of killing the snake Mr. Scheldrup should have yelled to someone to ‘get a rope,’ and the black reptile would have left town as fast as it could crawl. It undoubt¬edly had never heard of the fact that no blacks are allowed at that place, and should have located itself at some other more congenial town.””

[stltoday.com/stltoday/emaf.nsf/Popup?ReadForm&db=stltoday%5Cnews%5Ccolumnists.nsf&docid=75929E6166873DCD862570140032DFAC ]
The Post article described how five southern Missouri cities, Monett, Newburg, Webb, Cassville and Aurora, had already been declared “colorless.” After the 1901 incident, Peirce joined the list.

[Lawrence County Record, 29 August 1901.]
“The Aurora Argus ran an editorial applauding the lynchings, stating that %u201Cthere is no punishment great enough to atone for such a crime. The argument is often put up that an innocent victim is liable to suffer. Perhaps so, but if they have to hang 25 to get the guilty one they will have an object lesson before the eyes of the nigger population. We say keep up the good work, Pierce City, until you get the right nigger.%u201D

Aurora had an incident in April 1906, alleged rape but probably blown out of proportion. May have led to its cleansing.
Aurora may have been sundown to the 1950s. “It was strange over there. I remember seeing in the late teens or twenties, actors, minstrels, and that was OK. They knew they weren’t staying.” RR porters were allowed in the hotel, third floor.

“Aurora, for one, didn’t allow ’em to stay overnight.” “As late as the 1950s.”