Aurora Gun Club recordsCreation: 1930-2006 Creation: Majority of material found within 1955-2006
Aurora Gun Club is a private target shooting organization and social club. It has had six locations since its founding in 1895 by brothers Eugene du Pont (1873-1954) and Alexis I. du Pont (1869-1921), are all centered in the area around Wilmington, Delaware. The records of the Aurora Gun Club are comprised of records collected by the club presidents and treasurers from approximately 1955 through 2006. The records range from membership rosters, club bulletins and shoot results to financial records.
- Creation: 1930-2006
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1955-2006
- Aurora Gun Club (Organization)
2.8 Linear Feet
Aurora Gun Club is a private target shooting organization and social club. It has had six locations since its founding in 1895 by brothers Eugene du Pont (1873-1954) and Alexis I. du Pont (1869-1921), are all centered in the area around Wilmington, Delaware. As the population of an industrial Wilmington grew past the city lines during the twentieth century and into the suburbs, Aurora was forced to move several times. However, it still continues to operate in close proximity to the site of its founding.
Aurora’s founders held the earliest shoots at the property of Eugene du Pont and Alexis du Ponts’ father. Eugene du Pont had long been an avid sportsman, and had become increasingly interested in trapshooting. The fifteen founding members of the club were all DuPont Company employees and du Pont family members. They together decided that membership would be by invitation only, no dues would be collected and of course with the requirement that members be “sportsmen interested in shooting.”
Following World War I, the club would begin shooting at the ‘Meadows on the Brandywine,’ which was the home of Norman Rood. Just past the trap house, stood a stone marker denoting the Delaware - Pennsylvania state line as marked in 1892. Unique to this location was the fact that if you missed a left angle target in Delaware, probability had it that the target would land in Pennsylvania.
By the fiftieth anniversary shoot of the Aurora Gun Club, shooting was taking place near ‘Dogwood,’ the home of Eugene E. du Pont (1882-1966). On November 9, 1952, The Wilmington Evening Journal covered an anniversary shoot as even by then Aurora had the distinction of being one of the oldest active gun clubs in the United States.
The year 1955 saw the end of an era with the passing of Eugene du Pont late in 1954, a new president would need to be elected. A meeting was held at ‘Dogwood’ to determine who the next president would be. At the meeting, Thomas Edward "Ted" Doremus (1874-1962) was elected second president of the club.
With a new era of Aurora dawning under the leadership of Ted Doremus, Eugene E. du Pont was elected Chairman of the Board, a position he would hold for the rest of his life. Eugene du Pont III (1914-1995), son of the late president, was elected Vice President. Doremus also appointed Porter Schutt (1911-1999) to act as chairman of the membership committee.
In March of 1962, Doremus would retire as president in March of 1962, to be succeeded by Sam Baker. At the same time, Eugene E. du Pont attempted to resign as Chairman of the Board. His resignation from the position was declined by the membership and Eugene E. du Pont was made an Honorary Member of the club. Out of respect for Doremus, a new position was created, that of President Emeritus, for Doremus to remain active in club affairs.
Sam Baker resigned as Aurora President on December 14, 1965, to take effect January 16, 1966. At that time, long time club Secretary and Treasurer, Louise Swartz, would also step down. Aurora’s third President, Jim Dunbar, would take the reins in January of 1966, with the new President, also came new Secretary/Treasurer, Elva Johnson. Dunbar also started the year with an increase in the annual assessment to $35. After a successful career as President, Jim Dunbar would pass the reigns of Aurora to George Harrington in 1978 after just six years as President.
George Harrington would work from the start to spread the duties of officers and committeemen’s duties. Harrington redefined positions to spread the duties more evenly across the board and in his first year as President, Harrington would also oversee the emergence of a new Aurora tradition, a competition with the shooters from the Vicmead Gun Club.
In 1983, Harrington raised funds to make repairs to the cabin such as fixing the cabin roof, replacing the porch floorboards, installing a fireplace mantel, and new caulking between the logs, as well as clearing brush from around the clubhouse.
Even with his success at raising the levels of attendance, Harrington pointed out that the majority of the responsibility for the operation of the club fell in the hands of the president. Not only was he preside over the shoots, he also was to manage the finances, buy targets and trophies and prepare a schedule that best suited the membership. Harrington suggested the election a Vice President, as well as a Secretary and Treasurer, to spread the responsibility more evenly. With that task completed, Harrington announced to Schutt and Dunbar that he was retiring as President at the end of 1984.
As it turned out, the very man Harrington had commended for his work in committee, Rufus Bayard (1945-2018), was picked as the new President of the Aurora Gun Club in a secret ballot vote. His term would begin effective September 16, 1984. Upon taking the reins of Aurora, membership stood at forty-four with twenty seldom showing up for shoots, and over 40% of the membership over the age of sixty. Bayard would start out immediately with efforts to recruit new active members that would regularly show up for shoots. Shooting though would continue with the annual competition against Vicmead.
President Rufus Bayard announced his retirement and a new person to lead Aurora in 1993. Fred Fiechter was nominated and later accepted his new position being the man that would carry Aurora into its second century of shooting excellence and eventually would carry Aurora to a new location for the first time in sixty years in 2004.
The move to the site on Barley Mill Road would start in March of 2004 when Aurora was asked to find a new home. Henry B. du Pont IV, offered his property with the provision that Aurora would comply with his insurance company’s regulations. The first shoot was on du Pont’s Way Road property, shooting over a trap mounted on a trailer on April 25, 2004. Tough weather conditions added to the speed of the targets made for less than desirable scores. The second shoot on the property was held at a location less offensive to the residents of Way Ridge in du Pont’s front field. This location was better suited for shooting with a natural noise screen and a woods background.
By October of 2004 work would begin on the new club house. Plans were presented by Charles du Pont and it was decided that members would make contributions to a building fund to equal the cost of construction for a log cabin similar to that of what was at the Hillside Road location. Nearly a year and half after the move, work was nearly complete on the new club house. Upon its completion, Henry du Pont IV was presented with a plaque honoring him for his contributions to the Aurora Gun Club.
Scope and Content
The records of the Aurora Gun Club are comprised of records collected by the club presidents and treasurers from approximately 1955 through 2006. The collection documents the history of the Aurora Gun Club, divided into four series.
The Administration series includes important historical information and a copy of the club bylaws dating from 1995 to 2008.
Chronological files and membership series is comprised membership rosters, financial statements prepared by the treasurer, club bulletins, schedules, membership correspondence, shoot correspondence and results as well as other various information. Files are arranged by year and their original sequence dating from 1955 to 1999.
Shoots series documents club shoot's from 1946 through 1987, there are score sheets and notes on shoots, arranged by year. Also included are handicap records as well as the procedure for handicapping scores. There are a small group of club photos, predating the bulk dates of the collection.
Finally, the Financial series holds the clubs financial records from 1955 through 2005.
Records less than twenty-five years are closed.
Litigators may not view the collection without approval.
Literary rights held by depositor.
Language of Materials
On Deposit from the Aurora Gun Club.
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Aurora Gun Club records
- Andrew Engel
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