The Public Humanist

The Public Humanist contributor: John F. Sears

John F. Sears is an independent scholar who serves on the Hawley Historical Commission and the board of the Sons & Daughters of Hawley. As a Scholar-in-Residence under a grant to the S&D from Mass Humanities, he researched the history of Hawley's old town common and is now serving as the consulting historian to the Rediscovering Hawley's Old Town Common project. He owns a home in Hawley's Pudding Hollow district. Sears is the author of Sacred Places: American Tourist Attractions in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford, 1989; rpt. UMass Press 1998). Some of the other topics he has written about are: Robert Frost, Muir Woods and the American conservation movement, FDR and the Land, the painter Karl Bodmer, and New Harmony, Indiana and the Smithsonian Institution Castle. He is currently researching a book on Eleanor Roosevelt, Jewish refugees, the founding of Israel, and the Arabs.

Rediscovering Hawley’s Old Town Common

Ray Gotta, one of my colleagues on the Hawley Historical Commission, lives directly across the road from Hawley’s old town common. From 1794 to 1848 the common served as the religious, civic, social, and economic center of the town. A meetinghouse occupied the middle of it and two taverns, a blacksmith shop, and several houses stood close by, including the homes of Hawley’s first ministers and doctors.