Underground Railroad Society
of Cass County, Michigan
Cindy has been a volunteer with URSCC since our beginning, and a docent in the Bonine House for several years. She has chronicled the restoration of the Bonine House in photographs, and began drawing sketches of the house and other UGRR sites in the area. The sketches inspired the story of Lucinda, a slave in Georgia, and her journey to freedom in Michigan on the Underground Railroad. While fiction, the story reflects the route that many of the freedom seekers used to enter Michigan on the Quaker Line of the UGRR.
Cindy's exquisite art and handwritten narrative display a unique talent and a voice that transcends age, race and time. Her book is suitable for all ages.
The 32 page book is beautifully printed on 8.5x11 spiral-bound heavy stock.
We've Come a Long Way!
Underground Railroad Wax Museums at the Bonine House
Press Release May 7, 2017
Characters from the Underground Railroad return to the Bonine House in Vandalia, MI on Tuesday, June 6 and Friday, June 9 from 10:30 to noon. Middle school students from Lake Center Elementary in Portage and Sam Adams Elementary in Cassopolis adopt a UGRR character, research his or her life and write a one minute script about the highlights. They are stationed around the Victorian Bonine House, home of UGRR stationmasters James E. and Sarah Bogue Bonine at the corner of Penn Road and M-60 in Vandalia, MI. When their 'button' is pushed they come to life and tell their story. This is an educational event suitable for all ages, and a charming way to learn about the Underground Railroad in Cass County and beyond.
Portage Lake Center Elementary will perform on Tuesday, June 6 from 10:30 am to noon. Teacher Stacey Bonine is a descendent by marriage of James E. and Sarah. Her classes have been performing since 2012. Cassopolis Sam Adams Elementary will perform on Friday, June 9 from 10:30 to noon. Retired Sam Adams teacher Felomina Patton has mentored her group since 2013. Some of the Sam Adams students portray their own ancestors. Presentations stop at noon, so be there early to see all the students.
Thank you for supporting our Capital Campaign to complete the restoration of the Bonine House and the Carriage House by 2017.
These structures are architecturally significant as fine examples of Second Empire and Gothic Revival, with historically important connections to the Underground Railroad.
Perhaps even more meaningful, they stand as symbols of a community that did what was right under the most difficult conditions and at great personal risk. The courage of freedom seekers who came here to escape slavery, and Quakers, free blacks and other abolitionists who helped them on their journey, represents the best of us. It is who we are as Americans.
Thank you for joining us in becoming caretakers -- not only of the buildings, but of the story they embody, and the legacy of freedom they represent.
Our 7th Annual Underground Railroad Days
was held July 8, 9 and 10, 2016
and was a great success!
Click here for photos and stories.
Press Release 1/12/2017
The Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC) purchased Quaker abolitionists and UGRR stationmasters James E. and Sarah Bogue Bonine’s House and Carriage House on December 29, 2010 and immediately began restoration of the c. 1845 Victorian home on Penn Rd and M-60 in Vandalia MI since it was in imminent danger of collapse. By late 2014, the Bonine House was stabilized, and URSCC directed restoration efforts to the c. 1850 Gothic Revival Carriage House and Underground Railroad station across the street on Calvin Center Rd and M-60. They hired Bullseye Construction of Vandalia who supported the southwest corner with cribbing, then installed new perimeter beams. Quality Masonry of Vandalia rebuilt the crumbling foundation in early 2015, fieldstone inside cobblestone outside, stabilizing the building until funds allowed further work.
Carriage House Restoration Resumes!
James E Bonine Carriage House M-60 and Calvin Center Road, across M-60 from Bonine House. (Photo is from the back of the building.)
James E. Bonine House Corner of M-60 and Penn Rd., Vandalia, MI 49095
Preserve and restore the James E. Bonine House and Carriage House as outstanding examples of Victorian domestic architecture.
Create an education and community events center in the Bonine House as a focal point for understanding the role local Quakers, African-Americans and other abolitionist groups played in the UGRR. Restore the Carriage House as a period museum and station on the Underground Railroad.
Create a cultural tourism destination for Underground Railroad enthusiasts that will bring visitors and tourism dollars into the community.
The mission of the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC) is to provide a focal point for exploration into the origins and activities of the Underground Railroad; the unique role the people of Cass County and the surrounding region played throughout its existence, and how it impacted local, state and national history.
The Bonine House is closed now. We will re-open for our regular season June through September. We look forward to seeing you!
Our self-guided Cass County UGRR Driving Tour has been enlarged to 19 sites! Click here to see new additions to this amazing story. The tour takes about an hour and is a great way to get an overview of the Underground Railroad in Cass County. You can download the tour (4 pages), or pick it up at the first stop--Milo Barnes Park in Vandalia.
Sam Adams Elementary, Cassopolis MI
A Bullseye Construction crew of Mennonite workmen began restoration of the south and east walls last week, installing temporary steel beams and cribbing, to be followed by the installation of massive new perimeter beams. They say some of the tools they are using are mid 19th century. Quality Masonry will finish the foundation when the crew has completed their work.
The next steps in the Carriage House restoration are removal of the concrete ‘bunker’ in front, re-roofing, then restoration of the windows, doors and siding. Finally, the structures in front of the Carriage House will be moved to other locations on the property. URSCC hopes to complete work by the end of 2018 at a projected cost of $200,000. When completed, visitors will be able to experience a genuine station on the Underground Railroad, as well as a period museum.
More about URSCC, the Bonine House and Carriage House restorations, and the Underground Railroad in Cass County can be found on www.urscc.org. Brochures, as well as a 19 site self guided driving tour of UGRR sites in the area, are available outside the Bonine House, the Carriage House, and at Milo Barnes Park in Vandalia. Tax deductible donations can be sent to URSCC PO Box 124, Vandalia MI 49095 or donate on line at www.urscc.org
Click on the video to see the presentation of Cindy's award.
Lake Center Elementary, Portage MI
Christmas at the Bonine House 2016
Cindy Yawkey Wins Michigan Historical Society State History Award!
URSCC is very proud to announce that Cindy Yawkey has been awarded the 2016 award for Books: Children and Youth, for her book They Have My Shoes, I Have My Freedom--A Story of the Underground Railroad.
"It's Time" Capital Campaign!