Gift stuns URSCC

Published 10:09 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To the editor:

As most readers are aware, the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County is in process of restoring the Bonine House at the corner of Penn Road and M-60 in Vandalia.
James E. Bonine built the house in the 1840s and was a stationmaster on the Underground Railroad. Fugitive slaves were sheltered in his carriage house across the street. He also provided land for Ramptown, and was involved in the 1847 Kentucky Raid.
This past September the Bonine House hosted its first fundraiser. My friends and I invited our friends, staged the house with antiques, made lots of food, served lots of wine, and had a ball. URSCC raised more than $6,000 and the house came alive for the first time in years.
It was great, but there is an untold story about that night. I’ve been wanting to write about it, and decided that I must do it now.
The house had candles in every window. It was ablaze with light, and people stopped in their tracks coming down M-60, and Calvin Center. Moses Simba was one of those travelers. He saw the lights, he heard the people, and he came in.
Moses is a young African-American man. He currently lives near Kalamazoo, but was raised in this area and said that the Bonine House had been part of his life forever. He knew the stories of the Underground Railroad and said he wanted his daughter to know the stories. Moses met everyone, listened to the URSCC presentation that talked about plans for the Bonine House as a community events center and focal point for Underground Railroad education — and promptly signed over his paycheck of $457.49
We were stunned, of course. Who does this? Moses explained his gesture, saying he has always loved what the Bonine House stood for, and when he passes by he always thinks of the courage of the people. We told him a smaller amount would be just as appreciated.  He demurred.
So I want to publicly thank Moses Simba for his donation — for giving a  week of his earnings as a crane operator to something he believes in. Some of us can do this, some less, and some of us can do more. But we can all do something. The Bonine House and the story of the Underground Railroad here is important and meaningful for our community and our country. It’s important for Moses Simba’s daughter.
Tax deductible donations to URSCC can be sent to P.O. Box 124 Vandalia, MI 49095 or donate online at
Please do what you can. Thank you.

Glenyce Haggin