In the 1830s southern runaway slaves bound for freedom in Canada came into Michigan near Cassopolis. In 1840 Cass County’s Quaker community, which provided a haven for the fugitives, became an integral part of the Underground Railroad. Many free African Americans also settled permanently in Calvin Township. In 1838 Cass County’s first African American church was organized here. In 1853 the Michigan Antislavery Baptist Association, later renamed the Chain Lake Baptist Association, was formed. In 1856 Turner and Irena Byrd donated an acre of land for a cemetery. The monuments record the names of the township’s early settlers including: George and Green Allen, and the Anderson, Ash, Artis, Calloway, Evans, Hawks, Sanders, Stewart, and Wilson families.
Plaque via Michigan History Center