From 1840 to 1850 two lines of the Underground Railroad (UGRR) terminated in Cass County, MI. The Quaker Line started in Cincinnati Ohio, west to Wayne County Indiana, north to Bristol, IN and into Michigan to 'stations' in Porter, Penn and Calvin Townships, known as "Young's Prairie" at that time. The Illinois Line came north from St. Louis to Niles, MI and west to Young's Prairie. UGRR stations were homes, barns and other buildings where fugitive slaves, now known as freedom seekers, were given shelter until taken to the next station by "conductors." Freedom seekers were taken to Schoolcraft, then Battle Creek and to other stations roughly following I-94 to Detroit and Canada. It is estimated that over 1500 freedom seekers were helped on their journey to Canada. Most freedom seekers who came here were from Kentucky and came up on the Quaker Trail. Most UGRR stations in Young's Prairie were on Quaker farms--the names Bogue, Bonine, Shugart, Osborn, East and Lee are well known stationmasters, some of them targets in the infamous 1847 Kentucky Slave Raid. Henry Shepard was a self- manumitted (freed) freedom seeker who settled in Vandalia, became a stationmaster and conductor on the UGRR, and also was part of the Kentucky Raid.

Free black families and black churches, primarily in Calvin Township, were also active in anti-slavery activities and helping freedom seekers on their journey. In the mid to late 1840's free black families came here from primarily Virginia and North Carolina. Stewart, Allen, Ash, Wilson, Hawks, Byrd and Sanders are among several families who settled here during that time. They came here with money and skills. They purchased land and established prosperous farms, becoming valued members of the community. There are several sections owned by free blacks on the 1860 Cass County plat map. Chain Lake Baptist and Mt. Zion AME churches were founded and involved in helping freedom seekers and those wanting to settle here in this safe haven.

One historian says "The story of the Underground Railroad in Cass County is one of cooperation, respect and mutual trust to combat the hated institution of slavery. The interdependency of these groups created a unique environment that helped minimize racism, promote cooperation between the races and create an African American community unique to the North."

Underground Railroad Society Honors Black History Month

"The Underground Railroad in Cass County"

Press Release-- 10/1/2021

Underground Railroad Society of Cass County wins Michigan Humanities Council "Outstanding Humanities Organization for 2021" Award

The Michigan Humanities Council recently presented the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (MI) the award for Outstanding Humanities Organization 2021 at their awards ceremony in Mackinaw City, MI.  MHC presented the plaque and certificate to URSCC saying "Over the past ten years, URSCC has worked to fulfill its mission to research and educate about the Underground Railroad in Cass County, and to restore three UGRR related buildings as focal points for telling the compelling story.  Over four hundred members and an eight member Board have brought to life the critical story of a central juncture in the Underground Railroad."   URSCC president Mike Moroz, treasurer Cathy LaPointe and docent Cindy Yawkey traveled to Mackinaw City to accept the award.  Mike thanked MHC for the great honor, for their support for Underground Railroad Days since 2013, and for their recent grants from H.O.P.E. funds which have helped so many non for profits keep their doors open during the pandemic. 

URSCC is pleased to announce that two of their programs have been accepted for listing on the National Parks Service Network To Freedom, a nationwide listing of nearly 700 Underground Railroad (UGRR) sites, with about forty sites in MI.  The announcement was made by Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, in Washington D.C. on April 23, 2021. The URSCC listings are among sixteen nationwide.

Press Release   October,  2021

Press Release   May,  2021