Church donates Underground Railroad home to become historical landmark
CASSOPOLIS, Mich. -- A historical home, once a stop on the underground railroad will now open to the public.
The home, owned by a church since 1971, was just donated to the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County.
"Now to have the Bogue house, it just adds to the story," said Cathy LaPointe, treasurer of the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County.
The society works to bring the story of the Underground Railroad to life, a story with deep roots in the community.
"We have 19 sites on our driving tour around Vandalia that are Underground Railroad related," said LaPointe.
Now the Stephen and Hannah Bogue home will be added to that list.
"Stephen Bogue was probably one of the first conductors for the Underground Railroad in this area," said LaPointe.
He hid many freedom seekers in the home’s attic.
The society was always interested in the home. It was owned by The Pleasant View Church of Christ for more than 40 years and used as a parsonage.
But for the last two years it sat empty after the youth pastor moved away.
"We didn't want to tear it down. We didn't want to rent it," said Larry Settle, an Elder with the church.
So the church decided to donate the home and the land it sits on to the local Underground Railroad Society.
"We made it known that's what we would like to do with it and everyone thought that was a terrific idea," said Settle.
Settle moved into the home shortly after the church purchased it in 1971. He lived in it for 26 years when he pastored the church.
"We had various people call from time to time that knew about it and wanted to come and take pictures and look," he said.
But it doesn’t look too historical. The home has been completely remodeled.
"The only indication of age is in the attic where the very large beams are put together with wooden pegs," said Settle.
Still, here and there, are traces of history.
The church and society, both eager to figure out just how much lies beneath the panels.
"I want to see what the Underground Railroad does with it and I'd like to see what's under these layers too," said Settle.
The Underground Railroad Society of Cass County is already working to start peeling away the layers of the home and expose the history underneath.
The home will be added onto the society’s free tours starting after Memorial Day Weekend.
It will also be open to the public during Underground Railroad days in July.
"It's one thing to tell a story. It's one thing to read a story,” said LaPointe. “But to be able to go into the places where this happened, it's just thrilling really."
Visitors will be able to step into the attic where freedom seekers were sheltered, and learn about the role the home played in the Kentucky Slave Raid in 1847.