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Harriet Tubman’s Father’s House, Where She Once Lived, Discovered by Archaeologists in Maryland

Katie Campione
·3-min read

MDOT News Harriet Tubman's father house excavation site

Archaeologists believe they've found the site of the home once owned by Ben Ross, the father of abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman.

The remains of the homesite were discovered in Dorchester County, Maryland, on a property that was acquired last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Lead archaeologist Julie Schablitsky and her team began searching for evidence linked to Ross on that property in November, according to a news release. This spring, they were able to find artifacts that dated back to the 1800s, including nails, bricks, dish fragments and a button.

Schablitsky said that the findings will help researchers learn more about Tubman and her life.

Rex/Shutterstock Harriet Tubman's father house excavation site findings

Rex/Shutterstock Harriet Tubman's father house excavation site findings

Rex/Shutterstock Harriet Tubman's father house excavation site finding

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Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross in March 1822 on the Thompson Farm, where her father was enslaved.

Ross was given 10 acres of his own land by slave owner Anthony Thompson in the 1800s. In Thompson's will, he wrote that Ross would be freed five years after his death in 1836. Ross took ownership of the land in the 1840s.

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Though Tubman and her mother were enslaved by another family and moved away when she was a toddler, experts say that she still visited her father into her teens and likely helped with his business of selling timber.

"The importance of discovering Ben Ross' cabin here is the connection to Harriet Tubman. She would've spent time here as a child, but also she would've come back and been living here with her father in her teenage years, working alongside him," Schablitsky said in a statement.

MDOT News Harriet Tubman's father house excavation site

MDOT News Harriet Tubman's father house excavation site

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"This was the opportunity she had to learn about how to navigate and survive in the wetlands and the woods. We believe this experience was able to benefit her when she began to move people to freedom."

The homesite will become part of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a 125-mile stretch that includes more than 30 sites related to the abolitionist.

In a news release, Tubman's ancestor Tina Wyatt said that the discovery "humanized a man responsible for giving us a woman of epic proportions."

"This brings enlightenment, revealing how he lived his daily life making it a real-life connection to and for me, a great-great-great-great-granddaughter," she added. "The world benefits also from the study of these artifacts concerning objects used by the enslaved; are they common to this plantation, to his position, or to this region? It gives us so much more to explore, explain and exhibit."