Students unearth Hawley history
Talk set for Thursday at 7
Mohawk students discovered this 18th century coin standing upright in the ground near the foundation of the Sanford Tavern, which was built around 1798. Project director John Sears said the coin may have been placed near the cornerstone of the building to indicate the year it was built.
Mohawk students exploring the archaeology of Hawley’s Old Town Common unearthed this pottery near the Sanford Tavern in previous excavations. (Submitted photo)
CHARLEMONT — For the past two years, Mohawk Trail Regional High School students have been carefully digging into plotted squares of soil near the foundations of what was once the Sanford Tavern, in Hawley’s Old Town Common.
On Thursday, the students from Ivan Grail’s archeology course will talk about their experiences and display their findings at 7 p.m., in the Federated Church of Charlemont.
According to project director John Sears, the Sanford Tavern stood on the old town common from about 1798 until the 1840s, playing an important role in the town’s social, civic and economic life.
Archaeologist Aaron Miller and Grail will also talk about the students’ work. Those attending will be able to examine the unearthed artifacts and hear students’ conclusions drawn from their discoveries.
The student’s findings include Colonial building materials, such as handmade bricks and bits of plaster, and broken pottery.
“The most exciting artifact found was an 18th-century coin,” says Sears. “It was standing upright at the corner of the building. It’s possible it was put there deliberately, when the building was put up, by the builders, to mark the date,” he said.
Sears said Miller has said the project has been very worthwhile, and would like to see the archaeology project continue, if the funding is available to continue the high school program. A $5,000 grant from MassHumanities was supposed to fund the project for only a year, but Mohawk and the Sons and Daughters of Hawley were able to stretch the money to cover two years, thanks to additional Sons & Daughters donations and volunteer labor from that community group, which included constructing the sifters used on the site. Also Miller, who received a stipend, donated additional time at no cost, Sears said. Now that troughs and basic equipment have already been purchased, the group would need at least $3,000 to continue the hands-on course for another year, Sears said.
The tavern excavation is a joint project of the Mohawk high school and the Sons and Daughters of Hawley. It is funded by a grant from MassHumanities.
To access essays on the history of Hawley’s Old Town Common, or to take a virtual tour on the Internet, search on “Sons and Daughters of Hawley” and click on “Old Town Common.”