Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 1.46.29 PMMany, many thanks to Jim and Ruth Chatfield from Wolcott for sharing some very interesting information at the Wayne Historians Organization meeting in April 2016 about James Madison Cosad. This terrific historical gift has led your town historian on a quest to learn more about James Madison Cosad.  

In 1856, at the age of 46, James Madison Cosad moved from Junius in Seneca County to Huron’s East Bay and Chimney Bluff area. In 1858 Cosad purchased property on Lummisville Road where he built a two-story home and several barns (Quentin & June McDougall’s). The McDougall’s took the second story down in the early 1960s, and the outbuildings have gradually been taken down over the years.  Across the road from Cosad’s Lummisville Road house, he built what was known as Liberal Hall. This was the site of much political activity during the latter half of the 19th Century.  A two-story structure, the building known as Liberal Hall became a private home. Around 1960 the home suffered a fire on the second story, but fortunately, the first story was saved. Dates and more research need to be completed by your historian in regard to both buildings. (Any information you, the reader, may have would be greatly appreciated.) 

Jim and Ruth Chatfield’s research led them to discover that Cosad’s Grove and the Liberal Hall were the site for the first meeting of the Central and Western New York Association of Freethinkers – an important group that supported the rights of women, freedom of slaves, and a separation of religion and government. This first Freethinkers meeting was held at Cosad’s Grove August of 1877. Estimates are that nearly 1500 attended the three-day event. This information was invaluable to the Freethought Trail ( James Madison Cosad is listed with others of significance in this movement: Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglas, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Robert Green Ingersoll, Amy Post, Gerrit Smith, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Thoughts:  Continuing research of this period, Cosad, and the Freethinkers has led to some interesting questions.

  • Why did Cosad move from Junius to East Bay in Huron in 1856 (just before the Civil War) at the age of 46?   Seems a bit late in life (at that time) to make such a move.
  • Then in 1858 – Cosad purchases the Lummisville property – and retains the East Bay property as a working farm. 
  • Was Cosad’s Chimney Bluff/East Bay property a significant site in relation to the Underground Railroad?
  • Was his home on Lummisville Road possibly an Underground Railroad Station?
  • Was there Underground Railroad activity in Huron? Cosad’s East Bay property and his political values would lead one to suspect so. (Also acknowledge notations to Niggerhead (now Grave’s) Point on Port Bay. More on this to come.)
  • Why Cosad’s interest in the Freethinker’s Movement?  

Side note:   Interesting Connection – Giles Badger Stebbins, a renown abolitionist speaker originally from Michigan, married Catherine Ann Fish on Sodus Bay at the Shaker Farm in 1846, which was at that time used by the Sodus Bay Phalanx (Fouriests). Catherine lived at the Sodus Bay Phalanx (Fouriests) with her parents Benjamin and Sara Fish. Catherine was an important women’s rights activist and abolitionist. Stebbins gave a series of lectures at Liberal Hall on Lummisville Road, Huron in December 1876 just after the construction of Liberal Hall.

Sodus Bay Fouriests – (1844-1847) – 

Stay tuned! This information brings Huron into an important place in the historic period surrounding the Civil War, abolitionist activities, and developing political viewpoints of the day.


Some links for further reading about James Madison Cosad:

Biography of Cosad in The History of Wayne County, New York 1789-1877.  Scroll to Page 95 for biography. See one page before page 94 for an illustration of Cosad’s property on Lummisville Road. View is looking west. (Remember, this is 1877.) A defining piece is the well at the front of the property between Lummisville Road and the house (left in illustration).  

Article on Cosad from Free Thought Magazine on Cosad.   Yes, Cosad’s first wife died and he later married her sister.  

Find A Grave – Cosad’s Family Information.