Vandalia hosts UGRR Days July 16-17

Published 11:16 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Village of Vandalia celebrates its heritage as a hub of the famous Underground Railroad at “Underground Railroad Days” Saturday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 17, from noon to 5 p.m.

Vandalia was the center of UGRR activity in Cass County from 1840-1860.

It is estimated that at least 1,500 “freedom seekers” were helped on their way to Canada by Quakers and free African Americans primarily residing in Calvin and Penn townships.

UGRR activity was so intense that Vandalia was referred to in Congress as “that hotbed of abolitionism,” and the 1847 Kentucky Slave Raid played a role in precipitating the Civil War.

Many fugitives stayed in this area and prospered, some of  their descendants living here today.

Quaker and Vandalia Village employee Bill Ayers conceived and planned the celebration before his death in the spring of 2010.

A classic car show, deejay Dennis Ash, a community yard sale, local art and crafts and local food vendors are on one side of the village center.

The Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC) anchors the other side, along with churches, and other organizations with ties to the Underground Railroad.

URSCC will sponsor bus tours of local UGRR sites, tours of the James E. Bonine House at M-60 and Penn Road; and lectures on Cass County and the UGRR, the 1847 Kentucky Raid and the role of African Americans in the Underground Railroad.

Admission and parking are free.

UGRR site bus tour tickets cost $3.

All booth space is free on a first come first served basis, and food vendors are especially encouraged to sign up early.

To reserve a booth or for more information call Vandalia Village President Beverly Young at (269) 476-2344.