The Cossingham Family and the Cossingham Trail

by Kevin Hybels (reproduced here by permission of the Norwich Historical Society)

Our Town 
Expeditions and Explorations
on the trails, street and on the couch
During COVID-19
First published July 26, 2020 on Norwich Lists. Editorially revised July 28, 2020

The Cossingham Trail goes through land that has been used agriculturally for many years. The Cossingham family once farmed on 600 acres in this area. Today, the Cossingham Farm is 120 acres, and Liz Russell has worked to conserve much of the land. The 2002 conservation easement with the Upper Valley Land Trust includes a provision for public access.

Richard Cossingham, Sr.

The first Cossingham in Norwich was Richard Cossingham Sr. He was born into slavery on December 15, 1835, in Virginia. He was freed as a young boy and became a cook on a steamer on the James River. During the Civil War he cooked for General Robert E. Lee and other generals on Lee’s staff. According to his obituary, Cossingham held Lee’s horse during his surrender to General Grant at Appomattox in 1865.

After the war, Cossingham and his two sons, Richard Jr. and George, moved to New York City. Beginning in 1883, Cossingham worked as a cook on the surveying trips of Elihu Thayer Quimby, a surveyor, mapmaker, and professor at Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering. Richard Cossingham Sr. moved to Norwich in 1894 after purchasing 114 acres on Bragg Hill from Harvey Ladd for $1,300. After the expeditions, Cossingham became the chef at the Norwich Inn for eleven years. He died in 1906. His home is on what is now Happy Hill Road, which is named after the Dartmouth Outing Club cabin at the end of the road.

Cossingham Farm (date unknown)

The Cossinghams farmed in the area of the roads now named Happy Hill, Cossingham, and Bragg Hill. Their descendants continued to live in this area for generations. The last Cossinghams to live in the Cossingham Farmhouse on Happy Hill Road sold it in 1998.

Winter view of Cossingham Farm (date unknown)

The Cossingham Trail crosses the Appalachian Trail, and an official access point for the Appalachian Trail is located off of Cossingham Road. The trails are used during every season, for hiking in the summer and for skiing in the winter.

HEAD OUT ON A HIKE!

To access this trail from downtown Norwich, follow Beaver Meadow Road to Bragg Hill Road. Follow Bragg Hill Road to the left turn onto Cossingham Road. Proceed 100 yards to the Trail Parking sign on the right.

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