Courtesy of the Brookfield Historical Society
On September 27th, 2014 the Town of Brookfield Historical Society will unveil a Pomeroy Foundation Historical Marker to commemorate Maurice Gershon Hindus, a Russian-American, who spent his formative years on Jim Moore’s a farm in North Brookfield. Hindus graduated from North Brookfield Union School and attended Colgate University where he received a degree with honors in English in 1915. He went on to attend Harvard and became a preeminent scholar, journalist, writer, and speaker on Russia and foreign relations. Although he traveled to Russia, Europe and the Middle East many times, and worked out of New York City, he regarded North Brookfield as home. He credited Jim Moore for his “Americanization” and returned time and time again to visit North Brookfield friends and the old farm on Faulkner Road in ‘Puckerville’, south of North Brookfield off State Route 12.
Maurice (pronounced Morris) Hindus was born February 27, 1891 in a farming village in Russia (now Belarus) to an impoverished family with 11 children. When his father died, his mother moved the family to New York City in 1905. Maurice taught himself English and was attending Stuyvesant High School when, in 1908 at age 17, he saw an ad for a farm laborer in Upstate NY. Longing to get back to rural life, Maurice answered the ad and immediately took a train to North Brookfield where he became a hand for Jim Moore. He later divulged that he hadn’t even told his family where he was for a year.
Hindus decided early on that it was his calling to interpret Russia to America. Following Colgate, he spent some time on the Chautauqua circuit lecturing about his experiences. After studying at Harvard, he went to live among Russians in Canada, writing about them for Century Magazine. That led to a commission to go back to Russia to study and write. His first book, The Russian Peasant and the Revolution was published in 1920. In 1926, Broken Earth was published. During WWII, he worked as a foreign correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. By 1945, he had published 12 books.
A continuous thread throughout his life was his enduring love for North Brookfield and it’s farming people. One of his novels, Green Worlds, (1938), describes in great detail that early part of his life. In its forward he writes, “Luckily, in its human relationships, Mount Brookville proved such a fulfillment, and though I have not lived there since I left it for college, I never go back for a visit but I feel as though it were still my home.” Mount Brookville is the fictitious name Hindus chose for North Brookfield.
A Traveler In Two Worlds, published in 1971, is a more in depth retrospective of his early years, a reflection on his education, and an exploration of comparisons with life outside of America. Magda, a love story, is thought to be autobiographical too, with Magda representing a local girl of whom he was very fond.
At the White Eagle Conference Center on Lake Moraine in Hamilton, a model rural village was assembled by the American Management Association in 1968 including several buildings removed from the Town of Brookfield. One, called ‘Lucy’s House” was once Jim Moore’s on Faulkner Road.
On Saturday September 27th at 10:30 AM we will unveil the new marker in a public ceremony at 2255 Faulkner Road. Following the ceremony, there will be a tour of places mentioned in Green Worlds and a reception at the North Brookfield Community Hall. For those wishing to take the tour by bus, park at the North Brookfield Community Hall at 10 AM. Bus will leave at 10:15 to go to Faulkner Road. The bus will go around North Brookfield sites, Nine Mile Swamp, Colgate University, and Americana Village, and return to the Community Hall in North Brookfield around 1 PM for refreshments and reminiscing with friends and Hindus family members who will be visiting for the first time.
Please join us for the fun and opportunity to learn about a great ‘Brookfielder’.