For the first time, a freethinkers’ meeting site has received an official historical marker. The William G. Pomeroy Foundation funds roadside historical markers in New York (the state no longer does so). Working with Town of Huron Historian Rosa Fox, in 2019 the Pomeroy Foundation delivered a marker for the James Madison Cosad farmstead, the site of an August 1877 “Grove Meeting” that attracted some 2,000 persons. It was the inaugural event of what became the New York Freethinkers Association, which organized seven nationally significant conventions across New York State between 1878 and 1885.
As codeveloper of the Freethought Trail, I’m delighted to see this. A principal goal of the Trail has been to normalize atheism and freethought, to bring them out of the shadows and see them acknowledged alongside other reform causes of the day such as abolition and woman’s rights. Over fifteen years, we’ve successfully encouraged New York scholars, historians, and heritage tourism specialists to discuss these causes in the same breath. Finally having a historical marker devoted solely to a freethought event is most welcome.
To learn more about the 1877 meeting, visit freethought-trail.org/trail-map/location:huron-wolcott-grove-meeting/.