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Between 1800 and 1830, William Sanford and his family operated a tavern in Hawley, a hilltown in western Massachusetts. The establishment was located on the town’s common, adjacent to the community’s Congregational meetinghouse and several other taverns. At the initiative of the local historical preservation group the Sons and Daughters of Hawley, archaeologists, students, teachers, and community members excavated the tavern site between 2011 and 2014. Historical and archaeological research indicates that William Sanford’s homestead functioned not only as a tavern, but also as a farm, store, smithy, and occasionally a court of law. Material evidence of alcohol and tobacco consumption, however, is less pronounced than at heavily-trafficked urban taverns. Research at the Sanford Tavern and other 19th-century public houses indicates that hybrid rural establishments played a variety of social and economic roles within local communities, which is evident in the archaeological record. Our findings show that archaeologists should approach rural farmstead-taverns with a different set of expectations.