Take the UGRR 20-Site Driving Tour!
Restore the James E. and Sarah Bogue Bonine House as an outstanding example of Victorian domestic architecture. Create an education and community events center in the Bonine House, with a focus on the role local Quakers, Free Black pioneers, and other abolitionists played in the Cass County UGRR and its legacy.
Restore the Bonine Carriage House as a community period farm museum and station on the Underground Railroad.
Restore the outside and interpret the Stephen and Hannah East Bogue House as it looked in the 1830's when they started sheltering freedom seekers in their attic; and tell the story of freedom seeker Perry Sanford and his role in the 1847 Kentucky Slave Raid.
Preserve Brownsville School #1 as a legacy of UGRR in Calvin Township
Brownsville School #1 20559 Osborn St. Cassopolis
One-Room School To Be Restored by Friends of Brownsville School
Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC) has recently purchased Brownsville School #1, 20559 Osborn St. in Cassopolis, MI. This Calvin Township one-room schoolhouse was built in the early 1840's, and was integrated from the day it opened, until it closed in 1957, making Brownsville #1 among the longest integrated public school in Michigan, and perhaps the first one. Friends of Brownsville School (FBS) has been formed to carry out this project, chaired by Jennifer Ray, retired Cass District Library Director.
Visitors can tour the Bonine House, Bonine Carriage House and Bogue House June through September, Monday-Friday, 2 pm - 5 pm. Docents will tell you the history of each site. Contact us to arrange private tours.
URSCC Annual Events are:
Cass County UGRR Wax Museum at the Bonine House -- Late Spring or early Summer
Underground Railroad Days -- second weekend in July 2023
Christmas at the Bonine House -- December 1 thru 14, 2023
We've Come a Long Way!
The Kentucky Raid
In 1847 black and white residents of Vandalia and Cassopolis stood up and stopped thirteen slave catchers from taking nine kidnapped slaves back to Kentucky. They showed great courage and determination in stopping what they saw as a grave injustice. Freedom seekers were allowed to testify in court and won.
When we encounter bigotry, intolerance and injustice we must find our own courage to do what is right --
Take a Stand! Testify!
The Stephen Bogue House at M-60 and Crooked Creek Rd.
Underground Railroad Wax Museums at the Bonine House 2023
On May 31, Cassopolis Sam Adams Elementary School 5th grades presented their Cass County UGRR Wax Museum. On June 6, Portage Lake Center Elementary School 4th grade presented their Cass County and Beyond UGRR Wax Museum. These performances are educational and charming, and were well attended by family and friends. Click here to read more.
Click on the poster to download a printable version.
Lake Center Mrs.Bonine Class
Take a look at the First Look!
The Bonine House in 2011
Sam Adams, Mr. Scott class
Underground Railroad Days 2023 Well Attended!
Our 11th UGRR Days was a success! Local tv, social media and newspapers got the word out and people came from all over the region, State and the nation. The weather cooperated--no rain in 11 years : ) The Kentucky Raid Tours were full, the Bonine House, Carriage House and Bogue House were packed with visitors. The 102nd USCT soldiers were kept busy talking. Presentations by Jennifer Ray about Brownsville School project and Guy Turner about 102nd USCT in the Civil War had appreciative audiences. Ramptown cabin music was enjoyed by many.
The Village of Vandalia had a full roster of vendors and a variety of food offerings. Their classic car show on Saturday afternoon drew many enthusiasts. The community church service under the tent on Sunday morning drew hundreds as always.
The third floor of the c. 1850 Carriage House was open for the first time this year. Oral tradition maintains this floor is where freedom seekers were sheltered on their journey to Canada. Mary Charlotte Bonine b.1934 said her grandmother said a red railroad lantern was kept in the window. After the Bonine Elk Farm was sold in 1950s, the Chamberlain family moved in the apartment. Possessions discovered in the space are on display. The second floor of the Carriage House has a display of vintage farm tools donated by local families. The original sign for the 1879 Quaker Meeting House in Vandalia is also on display on the second floor.
Some visitors return every year to see updates in Bonine House-- our newly completed downstairs bathroom and our 1872 Chickering piano were points of interest. The Bogue House has a new front, and chairs from the Gem Theatre are in the east parlor, where Steven Bogue had anti-slavery meetings with Charles Osborn in 1843.
The Bonine House is open Monday-Friday from 2pm-5pm for tours. Private tours are available, please contact us on this website. See you next year, the second weekend of July!
Take a Stand! Testify!
Take the URSCC self-guided driving tour of 20 UGRR sites within four miles of Vandalia, MI. Click here. to view the tour and download a printable map. Maps are also available at the UGRR Historical Marker in MIlo Barnes Park on M-60 in Vandalia. The tour takes about an hour if you don't stop to explore.
Watch our URSCC Powerpoints
"The Underground Railroad in Cass County MI"
"The Bonine House--A Legacy of Freedom"
Tour the Bonine House, Carriage House and Bogue House
Sam Adams, Mrs.Leach class
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
To research and educate about the Underground Railroad and its legacy in Cass County, Michigan; and to restore four buildings as focal points for telling this story.