The Mystery of Right Reverend McCoskry

1860s

1860s

When you look at this portrait of Right Reverend Samuel Allen McCoskry, you may not think much about it. You might begin to imagine what Rt. Rev. McCoskry’s life was like in Detroit. Perhaps he was an inspirational reverend and helped his congregation during their daily trials and tribulations. Perhaps he was a philanthropist and did charitable work around the city for the less fortunate. When you look at this portrait, you probably would not expect to learn that Rt. Rev. McCoskry was charged with immoral conduct and was deposed.

Rt. Rev. McCoskry was Michigan’s first bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. In 1878, he was charged with immoral conduct. Before a proper investigation began, he planned his departure for Europe. When the House of Bishops learned that McCoskry was possibly fleeing from these charges, they ultimately chose to depose him for leaving the diocese. Rt. Rev. McCoskry claimed that he was leaving for Europe due to health problems, but the church speculated he was fleeing to avoid the investigation.

So what did McCoskry do? What were these immoral charges? And why did he go to Europe? We’ll never actually know since a proper investigation never happened and the records don’t exist. So when you look at this portrait of Rt. Rev. Samuel McCoskry, what do you imagine now?

-Caitlin Brennecke, Wayne State University Graduate Student

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