Updated: Jun 28, 2021
The home of leading abolitionist, Harriet Tubman (1822-1913), has been located.
Tubman was born on Maryland’s Eastern Shore before escaping from slavery to live with her father, soon becoming a leading abolitionist. Harriet helped slaves escape north through the Underground Railroad, a network of guides and safe houses that rescued thousands of people from bondage. Between 1850 and 1860, she made 13 trips that guided 70 people out of enslavement. Her father, Ben Ross, a formidable patriarch, was freed from slavery in the early 1840s and settled on 10 acres bequeathed to him that is now part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
Harriet spent time at her father’s home as a child and lived there during much of her teenage years. This was when she learned how to survive in this hard-to-navigate terrain and find her way through wetlands and thick woodland, skills that helped her guide people to freedom.
Archaeologist Julie Schablitsky was searching the swampy terrain for the lost homestead when she unearthed a coin dating to 1808. It came from the spot where Ben Ross’s cabin stood. Bricks, datable fragments of 19th-century pottery, a button, a drawer pull, and a pipe stem helped confirm the location of the timber foreman and lumber jack’s house, as well as written records.