The Underground Railroad Wax Museum was developed by Mary Anne Bonine and her daughter-in-law Stacey Bonine for Stacy’s 4th grade classroom in Angling Elementary School in Portage, MI in 2011. Mary Anne gathered primary research on several UGRR characters, both in Michigan and national figures. The students chose a character, did further research and created a one minute speech about their character and their role in the UGRR. Students, dressed in costumes representing their character, are ‘statues’ until a button on their hand is pushed. Then they come to life and tell their story. In 2012 Stacey brought the performance to the Bonine House, where they have performed every year since.
URSCC wanted to adapt the Wax Museum to the students at Sam Adams Elementary School in Cassopolis. Many of the students at “Sams” are direct descendents of both Quaker and African American abolitionists in the area, as well as freedom seekers who settled here.
Mary Ann did extensive research on the Kentucky Raid, Original Black Families, students at Calvin Township’s integrated schools, and soldiers from Cass County's who served with the 102nd U.S.C.T (United States Colored Troops). She created a local version of Cass County UGRR Wax Museum that was first presented at the Bonine House in 2013,and every year thereafter, coached and mentored by Felomina Patton.
In 2019 Sam Adams decided to make Cass County and the UGRR Wax Museum part of the 5th grade curriculum, and Project Based Learning. URSCC created a "Wax Museum In A Box" that provided all the basics for the teacher to draw upon as students learn this exciting and important history of their community.
Underground Railroad Society
of Cass County, Michigan
Sam Adams Elementary School
Angling Elementary School