- An Honorary Street Dedication recognizing the Nila Family for its contributions to Aurora is set for 11 a.m. Friday, July 10 at Farnsworth and Indian avenues.
- Sponsored by The City of Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board and Aurora Township
- Program will include remarks from Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner; Cynthia Hernandez, Chairman of the Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board; Christina Campos, Aurora Township Supervisor; Penny Falcon, Aurora Historical Society; and descendants of Augustine and Senobio Nila, who settled in the boxcar community created for Mexican immigrants in Eola before moving their families to Indian Avenue.
- A street sign will be unveiled by Nila descendants
BACKGROUND: In 1923, a group of Mexican immigrants came to the Aurora area to work and raise their families. Among the earliest settlers were two brothers, Augustine and Senobio Nila, both in their 20s.
The Nilas entered the United States with a Certificate of Lawful Entry in Laredo, Texas. The brothers soon after would apply for permanent residency and settle with their families in Aurora.
With nowhere to live and little money, Augustine Nila persuaded his employer, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, to donate old, unused boxcars to the immigrants. Thus, the Nilas created a community for Mexican immigrants in Eola, just outside of Aurora. The camp grew over time to 20 boxcars that were arranged near the railroad scrap plant where the immigrants earned their living. The camp – “el Campo” – became their own small community and even included a church built with their own hands.
The residents became a close-knit group whose highest priority was looking out for the interests and wellbeing of one another. The Nila brothers’ efforts in carving out a community for Mexican immigrants helped pave the way for other immigrants to begin their lives in Aurora.
The boxcar community was disassembled in 1934 during the Great Depression, prompting the Nilas to buy homes on Indian Avenue. One home became two, then three, and over time, the Nilas would own several homes in a two-block stretch of Indian Avenue.
The move to Indian Avenue would launch a legacy that would touch Aurora in many significant ways. Augustine Nila would become a strong advocate for the nascent Mexican community and would represent their interests to the Mexican Embassy in Chicago, to local government and to schools and churches. The Nila brothers were characterized by courage, perseverance, hope, hard work and commitment to family and community. They endured many hardships and challenges including the premature deaths of their wives.
Nila offspring now live in every part of Aurora and its surrounding communities. They became parents, teachers, musicians, police officers, government workers, computer engineers, business owners, factory workers, executives, soldiers, and casualties of war.
The Nilas would live on this street from 1934 to today, owning homes at 1470, 1472, 1611, 1614, 1615 and 1668 Indian Avenue as well as 515 Beckwith St. From the early 1920s, Augustine and Senobio Nila, along with their brother and sister, children and grandchildren, shaped the landscape of Indian Avenue and would influence the future of the community.
Senobio Nila lived at 1611 Indian Ave. until his death in 2008 at the age of 106. Augustine Nila returned to Mexico in 1967 and passed away in 1987 at the age of 94.
The purpose of the City of Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board is to educate the public about the Hispanic community and the history of Hispanics that helped shape the City of Aurora; to instill pride of the Hispanic heritage by honoring those who have come before us and those that continue to make a true difference in our community.