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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.  

                Bonine House Downstairs Floors Refinished!

Greg Nichols Wood Flooring Company of Three Rivers, MI spent two weeks sanding and finishing the downstairs floors in the Bonine House.  They sanded and oiled  the living room, dining room, parlor, hallway, office and stair treads, both front and back.  Greg and his crew did a beautiful job!

URSCC is very grateful to Greg and his wife/partner Cindy for donating their services for this job, as well as the upstairs which they did in 2015.  The only floors left to be finished in the house are the kitchen and bathroom, which require some repair.  Photos below show Corey Crocker patching the dining room and shoring up the joists in the basement, and many photos of the crew doing their careful, often painstaking work.  The results are beautiful, they are truly skilled in their craft!

Sam Adams Elementary, Cassopolis MI

"It's Time" Capital Campaign!

Maria Jones 1957-2017

URSCC member and dear friend Maria Jones passed away Friday, October 20 after a long and valiant battle.

Maria was a woman of warm and generous spirit, great beauty, and a truly loving heart.  Her wonderful talent for decorating  was showcased in the rooms she did for Christmas at the Bonine House in 2013, 2014 and 2016.  Maria loved Christmas and the Bonine House.

We will miss her more than words can say.  Our deepest condolences to her family. 

Sam Adams Elementary, Cassopolis MI

Click here to see sample pages of 

They Have My Shoes, I Have My Freedom

(Be patient, it may take a while to load)



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.

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

Cass County Underground Railroad "Wax Museum"

Tuesday June 6  (Lake Center Elementary)

and Friday June 9  (Sam Adams Elementary)

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.


Carriage House Restoration Resumes!


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)

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 and we want to thank them.

Dining Room—Family and Friends of Maria Jones
Living Room—Char Hiemstra, Jane Bergman, Janeen Godfrey, Debbe Meyers
Parlor—Gloria Chavez, Elena Chavez
Kitchen—Kim Jay, Cathy LaPointe, Cindy Yawkey
Downstairs Bathroom—Cathy LaPointe
Stairway—Jean Shultz
Library—Carolyn Kelly, Felomina Patton
Little Boys Room—Carolyn Kelly, Felomina Patton
Little Girls Room—Jan LaPointe
Upstairs Bathroom—Cindy Yawkey
Bethlehem Room—Deb and Spurgeon Wiggins
Bonine Bedroom—Cathy LaPointe
Outside Deer Display—Cindy Yawkey (with help from Corey Crocker and Mike Moroz)
Bonine Carriage House Wagon—Donated by Gary Long and Steve Eberlein (M60 Antiques) and restored by Mike Kidman.  Interpreted by Mike Moroz, Cindy Yawkey and Cathy LaPointe
--Thanks to Dussels for donating our lovely outside door wreaths and hallway garland

--Thanks to Bender Electric for installing our beautiful new fans/light  fixtures 

--Thanks to Santa, Mrs. Claus and elf Belinda who delighted children of all ages

--Thanks to our musical guests who added to the festive atmosphere in unique fashion

--Thanks to the Board and members of URSCC for making CBH a warm, welcoming experience


Lake Center Elementary, Portage MI


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.