As of 2009, there were 26 historical markers placed in Cass County, Michigan by the National Register of Historic Places and the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. This number continues to increase and historical marker locations will be added to this page as they are identified. Most of the historical homes, museums, churches, and cemeteries featured in this website have historical markers. In some cases where no structure exists today, site markers have been placed to let the public know that there was a structure or event of notable historic significance during some time in the past. Markers at these locations provide a description of people, places, and events that are part of the county’s rich history. We have created the list of historical markers below for your information. Please let us know of markers you would like us to add to this site by contacting us.
Lewis Cass Marker
The Lewis Cass Marker (above) is located at the site of the Pioneer Log Cabin Museum on beautiful Stone Lake, in the village of Cassopois, Michigan. Marker Text: LEWIS CASS – Governor, General, Grand Master. Born New Hampshire 1782. 18 years Governor of Territory of Michigan (1813-1831). Served Nation thirty years as Senator, Minister to France, Secretary of War, Secretary of State. Visited Zion Lodge No. 1 1812, later affiliated. Permanent Michigan resident. Served three terms Grand Master of Ohio. First Grand Master of Masons of Michigan 1826-1829. Organized Cass County 1829 and named in Governor Cass’ Honor. Cassopolis created a Village in 1863, became County seat also named to honor Lewis Cass. Died June 1866…Received Last Masonic Rites June 20, 1866. Location: at the Pioneer Log Cabin Museum – 400 S. Broadway St, Cassopolis, M – Directions
Stephen Boque Homestead Marker
Narrative description: Stephen was born in North Carolina on October 17, 1790, youngest of 15 children. In 1811 the Quaker family immigrated to Preble County, Ohio to escape the institution of slavery. In January 1822 he married Elva Elliott of Wayne County IN. Their daughter Sarah married James E. Bonine in Cass County in 1844. Elva Bogue died in 1828. Hannah East was born in Virginia in 1798, migrated to Tennessee in 1807, then on to Wayne County, IN in 1816, where she married James Bonine in 1824 becoming the mother to James Bogue Bonine. She married Stephen Bogue in 1831 and moved with him to Penn Township. Quaker Stephen Bogue was one of the founders of the Birch Lake Monthly Meeting, then the Young’s Prairie Anti-Slavery Meeting. The Bogue house became a well-known station on the Underground Railroad, harboring many fugitives on their way to Canada. A stone marker describes it: “This boulder commemorates a station of the Underground Railway used from 1840 to 1850. It was the home of Stephen Bogue who aided runaway slaves on their way to freedom.” Erected by the Woman’s Club of Cassopolis, Michigan 1931. (Note that Dr. Nathan and Nancy Thomas of Schoolcraft say they received freedom seekers from Cassopolis until 1860.) In his account of the night of the Kentucky Raid, Perry Sanford says he was staying in one of the Bogue cabins, got out through the roof, alarmed Stephen Bogue and was hidden by Mrs. Bogue in the upstairs of their house. Stephen Bogue donated land and platted the Village of Vandalia. He was a much-respected member of the community. Significance: Cass County Underground Railroad Notables Source: Taken from the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County, Michigan website at http://urscc.org/Cass_County_URR_Notables.html Location: 20257 M-60, Cassopolis, MI 49031 – Directions
Underground Railroad Information Marker
Marker text: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD Vandalia, prior to the Civil War, was the junction of two important “lines” of the “Underground Railroad.” Slaves fleeing through Indiana and Illinois came to Cass County, where Quakers and others gave them shelter. Fugitives seeking a refuge in Canada were guided to “stations” to the east. Many stayed here and built a unique Negro rural colony. Slave-hunting by Kentuckians in 1847 led to legal action and increased North-South tensions. Visit the website of the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County, Michigan for additional historical information http://www.urscc.org/ Significance: 1820 – 1865 Marker erected: 04/12/1957 State registered: 01/19/1957 Site ID: P22793 Location: Currently located in the park at the intersection of Water Street and W. State Street, Vandalia, MI 49095 – Directions
Sumnerville Mounds Marker
Other names: Sumnerville Methodist Church Site and Wood Memorial Church Marker name: Sumnerville Mounds Historic use: Funerary, graves, burials Current use: Landscape Park Narrative description: The Sumnerville Mounds are one of the few remaining burial mounds in Michigan built by the Hopewell Indians. The mounds were constructed between the first and fourth centuries A.D. and once contained the remains of Hopewell people as well as burial goods. The mounds were excavated during the late nineteenth century. The pottery removed from the mounds led archaeologists to name that particular type of ceramics “Sumnerville Incised.” The Sumnerville Mounds are considered an important archaeological site in Michigan. The Sumnerville Mounds qualify for a Michigan Historical Marker and, therefore, listing in the State Register of Historic Sites under criterion I and IV at the state level of significance. Marker text: SUMNERVILLE MOUNDS Between the first and fourth centuries A.D. Hopewell Indians built nine burial mounds near here. The six remaining earthen mounds reflect the Hopewellian culture, which flourished in the Eastern Woodlands of North America, primarily in Illinois and Ohio. Sumnerville is one of the few places in Michigan where Hopewellian mounds have survived into the twentieth century. While most mounds have been destroyed by plowing or construction, the Sumnerville mounds were preserved by the landowners. Some of the artifacts removed from the mounds during the late nineteenth century were acquired by the Public Museum of Grand Rapids. Archaeologists named “Sumnerville Incised,” a type of Hopewellian pottery, for its association with this site. There have been several excavations of the Sumnerville Mounds, the earliest being done under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institute in 1878. At that time excavations revealed the remains of a man who could have been nine feet tall. In February 1899, the remains of another giant man were uncovered. For more details on these giant people who lived in this area see Blood Brothers: Forgotten Children of the Mound Builders. Period of Significance: A.D. 1 – 500 Registry type(s): Marker erected 2000 State Register-listed: 01/20/2000 Site ID: P36812 Location: Northwest corner of Wood Road and Pokagon Highway, Dowagiac, MI – Directions
Sauk Trail US-12 Stone Marker
Marker: Sauk Trail (Old Chicago Trail) Rock Location: 15201 Mason Street, Union, MI – Directions Narrative description: In early times an old Indian trail ran east/west across the southern portion of the county. This was known as the Sauk Trail which later became US-12, and for awhile was the main road from Chicago to Detroit. The importance of this historical trail has been marked at many points places along the road (US-12) by stones and markers. The stone on the right was recently placed at the intersection of US-12 and Eagle Lake Road, Edwardsburg, MI by the Disher Family, owners of the historic farm at this location.
Picketts Corner and Stage Stop
Narrative description: Pickets Corner Tavern and Post office was built by Selah Pickett in 1844. It was also a stop for the Humphrey Stagecoach Line stop from 1844-1863. This plaque was placed in 1955 by the Captain Samuel Felt Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution and Lyell J. Wooster, Great Grandson. Selah Pickett was born 8 October 1791 in Spencertown, Columbia Cty. NY. He was a Michigan pioneer, arriving from New York after 1840. He took up a homestead in Cass County, settling on farmland at the junction of three roads later to become known as “Pickett’s Corners.” Selah was about 50 years old when he made this move with his family. Selah’s home farm was 80 acres of land in Section 23 of Wayne Township, Cass County, Michigan. It is described in the land records as the west half of the southwest quarter of Section 23, Township 5. The date of the original purchase is unclear, but it is likely he bought the land from the U. S. government in the early 1840s shortly after he arrived in Michigan. Later land transactions involved the same basic parcel of land. There was a purchase on January 29, 1850, from his son, Daniel. Simultaneously, Selah also purchased the adjoining 40 acres across the north-south road described as the east half of the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 22. On January 14, 1853, Selah and Christiana sold for $800 to Norman Pickett of Iowa (relationship unknown); on February 23, 1854, sold for $200 to Selah; and on May 7, 1854, Selah purchased a small strip of land from Kingsbury. His farm was at the juncture of three roads. It was well situated for the time when communication was often difficult — a point Selah did not overlook when he established a tavern and stage stop at the intersection soon to become known as Pickett’s Corners. “He raised the sign of a public-house on his corners, and also had the post office.” He was postmaster until the office was removed two miles east to Volinia. In 1856, he was also Justice of the Peace. The first stagecoaches in Cass County date back to 1830. They passed through the County on the Chicago Road and its branch that went off toward Niles. At first two stages went over the road each week, which increased to three times a week until 1832. At that time the Black Hawk War suspended operations. In 1833 a new line was established between Detroit and Chicago. This route ran from Detroit via Ypsilanti, Jonesville, Coldwater, White Pigeon, Edwardsburg and Niles and on to Chicago. This line was operated by the Humphrey Line, later a part of the Western Stage Company. Local stops were franchised about every twelve miles for rest and for changing horses. Since the line ran through Wayne Township, Selah Pickett had such a franchise at his tavern. The site of the old stage stop has been permanently marked. The existing Grange Hall is located at Pickett’s Corners. Directly across from the building a monument to the stage stop has been erected. Location: Intersection of M-60 and Decatur Road in Wayne Township – Directions Latitude: 41.915216 Longitude: -85.972524
The George Newton House was a private home in Marcellus, Michigan. It was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1974 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It is significant as the home of prominent civic leader George Newton, the son of Cass County pioneer Colonel James Newton.
History: James Newton was born in England in 1777 and emigrated as a boy to the United States. His family settled near Morristown, New Jersey; later Newton moved on to Pennsylvania, and then, in 1804, Ohio. He commanded a regiment of Ohio militia, earning the rank of Colonel, and served in the War of 1812, commanding at times both Fort Black and Fort Meigs. James Newton’s son George Newton was born in 1810 in Preble County, Ohio 1810. Both George and his father James moved to Cass County in 1830 and settled down to farm. James Newton served as a member of the 1835 Michigan Constitutional Convention, and as a member of the Michigan House in 1837-38 and 1838-39.
James Newton died in 1844. George Newton married Esther Green in 1837 and they had two children. He followed his father into public service and was elected to multiple local offices. In addition, he served as a member of the Michigan House in 1858-59. In 1865, Newton commissioned architect Christian G. Haefner to design this house. George Newton died in 1883. In 1931, Fred Russ purchased the house and the surrounding 580-acre parcel of timberland. In 1942, he gifted the land to Michigan State University. The University Forestry School has since then used it as the Fred Russ Experimental Forest. The house was restored by the Cass County Historical Commission and has been operated as the Newton House Museum since 2013.
Significance: The George Newton House is significant as an unusually well-preserved example of an Italianate country villa. It is a two-story house clad with clapboard and a hip roof topped with a belvedere. A veranda runs across the front of the house with a hip roof ell projecting to one side. Overhanging eaves and a classical cornice run under the roof.
Directions to Newton House and visitation hours can be found by visiting Cass County Historical Homes.