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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.  

Sam Adams Elementary, Cassopolis MI


July 2017  

Friday, July 13   "Opening Night"  (Ross Beatty High School, Cassopolis) 7 pm ​                                              -- Back by popular demand Sally Jo Connor's documentary on the Kentucky Slave Raid of 1847--don't miss it!
Saturday, July 14  (Vandalia)  11-5 pm
--  Guided tours of Kentucky Raid sites, UGRR Presentations and Displays, Music at the Ramptown Cabin, Period Crafters, Bonine House and Carriage House open, Civil War 102nd re enactors, soul food dinner, family events
Sunday, July 15  (Vandalia)  11-5 pm
--Community Church Service 11am,  and all the events of Saturday
Check back in June for a complete schedule of events.  Scroll down to see UGRR Days 2017

Extensive press in Chicago and South Bend, local TV coverage and glorious weather enticed thousands of visitors to attend various events during UGRR Days, starting with a full house at the world premier of 'The 1847 Kentucky Raid--A Documentary' on Friday evening.  Sally Jo Connor's film was riveting and very well received. 
The 102nd Colored Troops (USCT) established their camp Friday evening and stayed through the weekend.  Groups of all ages were enthralled by their stories.  An officer and his lady stopped by the camp and the Bonine House : )
An eclectic schedule of entertainment at the Ramptown Cabin found ready audiences, and delicious fry bread and churned butter was offered by URSCC members, as a blacksmith and soap maker demonstrated their skills.
Kentucky Raid tour busses were full.  The Bonine House was packed with visitors, many stopping to chat with Mary Charlotte Bonine, who 'held court' in the Bonine House dining room.  She loved seeing the furniture she grew up with,  recently returned to her childhood home. 
The opening of the first floor of the Carriage House Underground Railroad Station was a huge draw, with visitors able to see a video photo gallery of the recent restoration work.
The soul food dinner in the Vandalia Village Hall won raves, UGRR presentations in the Youth Center were well attended,  and the outdoor community church service on Sunday morning attracted hundreds of worshipers. 

It was a happy, fulfilling, lovely event and we thank all who participated.   --URSCC

We've Come a Long Way!

Take a Stand! Testify!

Poster and Mugs now available in the Gift Shop

Lake Center Elementary, Portage MI

In August 1847 Cass County Quakers, free blacks and other abolitionists stood up to a band of thirteen Kentucky slave catchers and stopped them from taking 'their property' back to Kentucky.
Kidnapped freedom seekers were allowed to testify in court, accusing the raiders of breaking and entering and assault.  The secret abolitionist judge found for the freedom seekers and the Kentuckians went home empty handed.
It's time for all of us to stand up against bigotry and intolerance of any kind.  To do the right thing--even when it's hard.  It's time for all of us to Take A Stand! Testify!
The graphic is from the mural "Sanctuary and Deliverance in Cass County" by Ruth Andrews painted on a wall in downtown Cassopolis. 
To order click on the Bonine House gift shop.  For more information on the Kentucky Raid and the mural, click on Kentucky Raid in the navigation bar. 
                                                                            --  In Solidarity, URSCC

Click here to order books $25 ​(plus postage)

The Bonine House and Carriage House will be open for tours June through September--

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 1-4 pm. 
Private tours at other times can be scheduled by contacting URSCC on the Contact Us page


For more photos and updates on the Bonine House restoration, click here

For Carriage House restoration photos and updates, click here

​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.

URSCC Mission

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.

2017 URSCC Annual Meeting, January 7, 2018

"Year of the Carriage House"

Sam Adams Elementary, Cassopolis MI


​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.

2017 Cass County Underground Railroad "Wax Museum"

Tuesday June 6  (Lake Center Elementary)

and Friday June 9  (Sam Adams Elementary)

Save the Dates!
Underground Railroad Days 2018
July 13, 14, 15


URSCC Capital Projects 2018

Carriage House Restoration Resumes!


Bonine House
--East screened porch, and back portico   $40,000
--West block window replacement and masonry repair  $20,000
--Downstairs painting and parlor trim restoration  $15,000
--Installation of Kitchen and Bathrooms   $40,000
--Chair lift for back staircase  $10,000
--Installation of a geothermal heating/cooling system  $15,000
 Total:  $140,000

Carriage House
--Re roof CH  $20,000
--Remove concrete in front of CH  $20,000
--Siding for CH  $20,000
Total:  $60,000

                                                     Grand Total Fundraising Goal 2018:  $200,000

Accomplished so far—
Since purchasing the Bonine House and Carriage House in 2011, we have:

--taken down the old (c1930’s) garage on the property 2011
--rebuilt the southwest corner of the house 2011
--excavated dead and dying trees in preparation for landscaping 2012
--repaired and restored the tower roof  2012
--replaced the roof on the entire house  2012
--repaired plaster throughout the house 2013
-- tuckpointed inside and outside the foundation 2013
--repaired and replaced bricks and masonry on the front of the house 2014
--repaired and replaced soffit and fascia on three sides 2014
--replaced basement window wells and windows, eaves troughs and downspouts 2014
--prepped and painted upstairs bedrooms 2014
--stripped and primed the upstairs hallway 2014
--installed stone walkway and bushes in front of the house,  two lamp posts  2014
--installed new beams and replaced foundation on the west side of the Carriage House 2014-15
--created URSCC Library and Research Room and Cass Co and UGRR Room 2015 
--created the “Family Room” for other families who lived in the Bonine House 2015
--prepped and primed downstairs rooms and entrance 2015
--repaired and restored the north wall of the Bonine House 2015-16
--added limestone front steps 2016
--repaired and restored front window trim 2016
--repaired and restored bay area soffit and fascia and re-roofed 2016
--returned several pieces of the original James E. and Sarah Bogue Bonine furniture  2016
--completed the Bonine House Research Library, digitizing the contents 2016-2017
--installed new perimeter beams on south, and east side of the Carriage House 2017
--excavated and restored south and east foundation on the Carriage House 2017
--built out south door section of the Carriage House 2017
--refinished floors on the first floor of the Bonine House 2017
--removed glass block and installed matching window on west side of Bonine House 2017
--installed four new ceiling fans and lights in the Bonine House Library and display rooms 2017
--returned additional pieces of original Bonine furniture 2017

                 URSCC  PO Box 124, Vandalia MI  49095   

CBH 2017 was a wonderful success.  Over 1500 visitors attended over four days,  a happy start to the holiday season.  URSCC members decorated the home, grounds and Carriage House in lovely fashion.  See below for lots of photos and a video.


Lake Center Elementary, Portage MI