Bath’s Patten Free Library will kick off its 18th annual Town History Series on Jan. 22 remotely on Zoom.

The series will consist of five talks, each related to one of the area towns: Arrowsic, West Bath, Bath, Georgetown and Woolwich. The hour-long presentations will run from 10-11 a.m. on successive Saturday mornings.

Sheila Spear will give the first talk of the 2022 Town History Series on Jan. 22. Contributed / Sheila Spear

“The topic is totally up to each of the towns,” said Hannah Lackoff, programming and outreach manager at Patten Free Library. “They get to pick whatever interesting thing they’ve found or want to talk about. It’s really exciting.”

The series, organized by the library in consultation with the area’s local historical societies, was an in-person event until the pandemic forced it onto Zoom last year, Lackoff said. But while COVID  made much of Patten’s usual programming impossible, it only helped grow the popular history series.

“Having it be virtual was actually kind of a blessing in disguise because we were able to broaden our service area so much,” Lackoff said.

Former residents who had left the area appreciated the chance to attend remotely.


“So many people tuned in on Zoom and after the fact who maybe wouldn’t have been able to come,” she said.

Library-goers watch a talk at the 2020 series, the last in-person edition before the pandemic forced the event online. Contributed / Patten Free Library

Topics this year include how the geology of West Bath influenced the town’s early years and the history of Woolwich’s Montsweag Farm. Recordings of the presentations will air on community television and will be available for viewing at the library, along with previous entries in the series.

For Sheila Spear, who will lead off the series with a talk titled “Gift or Purchase? Right to the Land, Arrowsic 1717” on Jan. 22, the talk will provide an opportunity to share information she’s learned as an amateur fan of history.

Spear, Arrowsic’s town administrator, began attending events at Patten Free Library’s History Room after she moved to the area full time in 2019. After learning about the transcript of a 1717 meeting between the Wabanaki Confederacy and Massachusetts Gov. Samuel Shute at a Maine Historical Society exhibit, she decided to volunteer for the 2021 Town History Series.

“It was a whole piece of history I knew nothing whatsoever about,” said Spear, whose husband and daughter both study and teach history professionally. “I found it absolutely fascinating and wanted to share.”

Still a regular attendee of Patten Free Library’s now-virtual history coffee hours, Spear said it’s important to learn about the past.

“These issues that were in conflict in the 18th century haven’t gone away, “she said. “They’re still with us.”

Interested viewers can register for the free talks at the library’s website, Joining them to learn about the region, once she’s done giving her own session, will be Spear.

“They all sound really interesting,” she said of the other presentations. “So I will probably be sitting at my computer on Saturday mornings.”

Comments are not available on this story.