The Gazetter has one place listed in Virginia with the name Sears, and it’s in Nelson County, Virginia.
The Sears Lane Trail is an old roadway that General Grant used to bypass confederate troops on his way to Appomattox Court House to discuss the Confederate surrender with General Lee.
Virginia is also home to The Sears Hill Bridge. In 1888, a wooden pedestrian bridge was built to cross the railroad tracks in Staunton, Virginia. An iron replacement was built in 1906. The Sears Hill Bridge connects to the Sears Hill neighborhood and park.
The bridge is famous. There is even a Bridge Day, April 26, in Staunton, or at least there was a couple of years ago. There are some great drawings of the bridge on Kristen Sparenborg Brinton’s blog site, and one was for purchase on her Etsy shop. In 2010 the bridge was condemned, torn down and put into storage. The community rallied around the cause and even put a short film together to raise money to save the bridge.
Dr. Barnas Sears, of Sears Hill, was a Baptist minister and president of Brown College in Providence, Rhode Island. He retired from teaching at 65, moved to Staunton, and took on the role of agent to the Peabody Educational Fund. He distributed over $3.4 million to schools across the US. His Sears House, built in 1866, still exists in Woodrow Wilson Park.
Dr. Sears helped edit and contributed to Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases in 1859. He also decided that Roget had a bit of a dirty mouth, and, rather than burning Roget’s filthy word book, he would censor it instead. First Amendment and all.
The greatest fault of the work is that of incorporating so many objectionable words and phrases, which ought never to meet the eye or tempt the tongue.
I’m sure he wouldn’t be too kind on the Urban Dictionary…
His Select Treatises of Martin Luther, In The Original German, With Philological Notes, and An Essay On German and English Etymology, 1846 is a great resource for translating German to English.
There is more about Dr. Sears and his legacy at The Historical Marker Database. There is much material to read up on George Peabody, considered to be the father of modern philanthropy.