Underground Railroad Society
of Cass County, Michigan
5th Annual UGRR Days a Great Success!
Hundreds of local and regional visitors enjoyed Underground Railroad Days. Friday's "Opening NIght" with Dr. Von and Fran Washington's terrific play "A River To Cross", the Sam Adams MI History State Champions' "Kentucky Raid in Ten Minutes" and Barbara Groner's reading of "Cass County Brave" by Lois Cross-Hart, played to about 170 people, the audience growing every year.
The MIchigan 1st and the 102nd Colored Troops camped out on the Vandalia Village green on Saturday, telling their stories and acting their characters for visitors of all ages. The 102nd had to leave early, but they will all be back next year, saying they really enjoyed the crowd.
Presentations were made to full houses, and displays were informative as well as beautiful in many cases. You can see the presentations by Keith Harrison on the Civil War, Maurice Sanders on his family; Dr. Anna-Lisa Cox on African American migration to the Midwest before the Civil War, and Mary Charlotte Bonine's talk about Growing Up in the Bonine House, on YouTube. Scroll down for links. Thanks so much to Wayne Falda and Amir Mohammed for filming these talks. Sam Adams UGRR Wax Museum was a hit with everyone. Their show at the Bonine House in June can also be seen on YouTube, again thanks to Wayne Falda.
Music and storytelling at the "Ramptown Cabin" in the park was a wonderful background for all that was happening. Guided tours were full both Saturday and Sunday, and hundreds enjoyed the soul food dinner put on by the Vandalia Church of God. The Sunday morning church service at the cabin in the park was inspirational, and the setting lovely with Christiana Creek flowing by.
Over 750 toured the Bonine House, many stopping to talk with Mary Charlotte Bonine, who is the last Bonine to live in the home 1934-1953.
All this was made possible by URSCC members volunteering as tour guides and drivers, house docents, information booth staff--and many acting as presenters themselves. Community involvement, local and regional publicity, and local churches provide a base of support that grows every year, and URSCC cannot express how thankful we are. Mark your calendars for the 6th Annual UGRR Days July 11 and 12, 2015. See you there!
Later, several board members took Mary Charlotte, her son and granddaughter out for some dinner and birthday cake.
Click here for "African American Pioneers in Cass County, the Sanders and Allen Families"--Maurice Sanders
Click here for "Growing Up in the Bonine House 1934-1953"--Mary Charlotte Bonine Roberts
Click here for "Ante-Bellum Migration of Free Blacks to the Midwest Frontier"-- Anna-Lisa Cox
Click here for "The Civil War in Cass County"--Keith Harrison
Enjoy the photo gallery of UGRR Days 2014--
Dr. Von Washington and Fran Washington present their play "A River to Cross", the Michigan History Days winners perform "The Kentucky Raid in Ten Minutes" and Barbara Groner reads "Cass County Brave."
Dr. Anna-Lisa Cox, noted historian, writer and lecturer on race relations in the nineteenth century Midwest was our featured speaker during Underground Railroad Days. Dr. Cox is a fellow at Harvard University and a consultant to the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. She is very familiar with Cass County, and many of our founding families, and looks forward to spending time with us. For more information on Dr. Cox, click here.