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9th Annual Village of Vandalia Underground Railroad Days

July 13, 14 and 15 2018

See below for images of our 2016 Wax Museums

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.  

Photos from the 2018 Wax Museums will be here soon.

We invite you to watch these URSCC Powerpoints

Sam Adams Elementary, Cassopolis MI

Sam Adams Elementary, Cassopolis MI


July 2017  

​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.

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!

Lake Center Elementary, Portage MI

2017 Cass County Underground Railroad "Wax Museum"

Tuesday June 6  (Lake Center Elementary)

and Friday June 9  (Sam Adams Elementary)

See below for images of Underground Railroad Days 2017


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   

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

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

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.


The Underground Railroad Society of Cass County MI and the Village of Vandalia will partner for the 9th Annual Underground Railroad Days Saturday July 14 and Sunday July 15 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Festivities will be centered in the Village of Vandalia, as well as three nearby Underground Railroad stations.  UGRR Days Opening Night, Friday July 13, 7:00 pm will feature a documentary by Vandalia filmmaker Sally Jo Conner.  "The 1847 Kentucky Raid' will be shown at Ross Beatty High School in Cassopolis, MI, followed by a discussion with the audience led by Dr. Benjamin Wilson.
Saturday and Sunday will feature 40 minute guided tours of Kentucky Raid sites, UGRR related presentations and displays in the Vandalia Youth Center, a living history encampment of the Civil War 102nd US Colored Troops, and all day entertainment at the Ramptown Cabin in Milo Barnes Park.  Three historic sites related to the Underground Railroad will be open for tours.  The Victorian James E. Bonine House (M-60 and Penn Rd) home of Quaker abolitionists James E. and Sarah Bogue Bonine, and the Bonine Carriage House across the street where fugitive slaves (now called freedom seekers) were sheltered, will be open.  The Stephen and Hannah Bogue House just up the street (M-60 and Crooked Creek Road) will also be open to visitors.  The Bogue House was recently donated to URSCC, visitors can see the attic where many freedom seekers were hidden, and learn about the role the home played in the Kentucky Raid.
The Village of Vandalia will offer a soul food dinner ($10) and family events.  Parking and all events are free.  Contact Beverly Young, Vandalia Village president, for arts and crafts booth space 269-476-2344

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.