A Historical Walk on the ‘Freethought Trail’

Kimberly Winston writes about “The Freethought Trail,” a self-guided walking tour through West-Central New York that covers locations and people important in freethought history, including the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum and the National Women’s Hall of Fame:

“Some of the sites and the people they are associated with are widely visited, but the freethought aspect isn’t usually touched on,” said Tom Flynn, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism and one of the main researchers of the Trail. “They don’t build it into their general presentations because I suppose some visitors would find it offensive. But it is part of the history, and not to share that is to short-change the visitors and the history itself.”


Why, [Flynn and historian Sally Roesch Wagner] asked each other, did so many people remember [Frederick] Douglass and [Susan B.] Anthony while many of their equally important contemporaries — Matilda Joslyn Gage, Robert Green Ingersoll and, to an extent, [Elizabeth Cady] Stanton — were forgotten?

“The answer is they were freethinkers,” Wagner said from The Matilda Joslyn Gage Center, a stately Greek revival home in Fayetteville, on the eastern edge of the Freethought Trail, where she is director. “In a word, that is the reason.”

If you’re interested in going on the tour, you can go on your own using the resources at the official website. Winston herself walked the tour August 9-11 and you can see the updates from her Twitter feed.

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