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!

8th Annual Underground Railroad Days

Vandalia MI

July 7, 8 and 9, 2017

Sam Adams Elementary, Cassopolis MI

Carriage House Restoration Resumes!


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

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.

Click here to see sample pages of 

They Have My Shoes, I Have My Freedom

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


​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

Lake Center Elementary, Portage MI

Cass County Underground Railroad "Wax Museum"

Tuesday June 6 10:30 - Noon (Lake Center Elementary)

and Friday June 9 10:30 - Noon (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.

Content copyright© 2016 URSCC. All rights reserved.

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.

The Bonine House opens June 1st for tours Tues, Wed, Thurs and Sat 1-4 pm.  Docents are available to tell you the history of the house and the Underground Railroad in Cass County.   Private group tours are available on request.  Please come and visit the Bonine House!

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  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


Click on the video to see the presentation of Cindy's award.


Underground Railroad Society

of Cass County, Michigan

We've Come a Long Way!