Pioneers’ lives to presented at Fort Walla Walla Museum

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WALLA WALLA — Two early Walla Walla residents will be presented at the Living History portrayals this weekend at Fort Walla Walla Museum, 755 Myra Road. The portrayals are at 2 p.m. both days.

On Saturday James McAuliff, merchant, musician and mayor will be portrayed by Clark Colahan.

In the middle 1800s Walla Walla was a robust community of gold miners, soldiers and townspeople who were desperate to have a safe town to live in. Many of the troublemakers were rather cantankerous individuals such as Cherokee Bob who paid little attention to authority. James McAuliff was called upon to help solve the problem, and he rose to the occasion quite well.

McAuliff was an Irish-American veteran of the war with Mexico who came to the Walla Walla Valley at the end of the war. For valor shown in the 1855 Battle of Walla Walla, he was promoted to the rank of captain in the Oregon Volunteers.

A successful merchant, farmer, and sawmill owner, he was elected mayor 11 times and became known as the town’s most beloved citizen. He often led parades in Walla Walla playing his fife.

In the years surrounding the vigilante activity in Walla Walla, he served as sheriff and member of the territorial legislature.

On Sunday composer Marion Bauer will be played by Susan Pickett.

Bauer was born in Walla Walla in 1882. Her father, Jacques Bauer, was a Jewish emigrant from Alsace who was a member of the 9th Infantry which helped build Fort Walla Walla during the late 1850s. He remained in Walla Walla after his discharge from the Army and opened a general merchandise store near the corner of Main and Third.

Her mother, Julia Bauer, also from Alsace, was a linguist on the Whitman College faculty during the 1880s and held language classes for recent immigrants in the Bauer home on Alder Street.

Jacques and Julia Bauer had seven children, five of whom lived into adulthood. The Bauers thrived in Walla Walla until 1890, when Jacques died of a heart attack. The remaining Bauers then moved to Portland.

Two Bauer children became musicians. The oldest child, Emilie Frances Bauer, born in Walla Walla in 1865, moved to New York City during the 1890s, and became a highly regarded music critic. She was 17 years older than the youngest Bauer child, Marion, who after graduating from high school in Portland joined her older sister in New York.

Marion was a gifted composer who thrived in the vibrant arts community in New York. She also studied composition in Europe during the first two decades of the 20th century.

She experienced considerable success with her compositions, which were performed frequently in New York and elsewhere.

Music critics lauded her melodic gift and her modernism.

Famous performers such as violinist Maud Powell commissioned Marion to write works for them.

Still, making a living as a composer was difficult, so Emilie Frances probably helped Marion considerably, both financially and professionally.

During the mid-1920s, just when Marion’s reputation was becoming more widespread, Emilie Frances died.

Marion then took a professorship at New York University, where she taught over the next 25 years.

Like fellow composers Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland, Marion experimented with music styles, leaving a considerable variety of music from her pen over her 50-year compositional career.

The height of Marion’s career was when the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, performed her “Sun Splendor” in Carnegie Hall in 1947.

She continued to compose up to the time of her death in 1955 and left a legacy of more than 160 compositions.

Performances are in the pioneer settlement at Fort Walla Walla Museum.

Visitors are encouraged to question the Living History re-enactors about their lives and times.

The Museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

Admission is free to Fort Walla Walla Museum members, eligible service personnel & their families through the Blue Star Museums program, Tamástslikt Cultural Institute’s Inwai Circle cardholders, enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and all children under 6; children 6-12 are $3; seniors 62+ and students are $6; adult admission is $7.

For more information, call Fort Walla Walla Museum at 509-525-7703, or email: info@fortwallawallamuseum.org.

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