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Harriet Tubman's Lost Maryland Home Found, Say Archaeologists

Archaeologist Julie Schablitsky found the coin with her metal detector along an old, abandoned road in an isolated area of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She dug it out of the ground and scraped off the mud.

She hadn’t been finding much as she and her team probed the swampy terrain of Dorchester County last fall searching for the lost site where the famous Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman lived with her family in the early 1800s.

She’d been frustrated that there had been no hint that she was anywhere near the home of Tubman’s father, Ben Ross. But as she cleaned the coin, the profile of a woman with flowing hair, and wearing a cap that said, “Liberty,” emerged. At the bottom was the date: 1808.

Tuesday morning state and federal officials announced that Schablitsky, guided in part by the coin, believes she has found the site where Tubman lived with her parents and several siblings during formative teenage years before she escaped enslavement.

It was the spot, experts said, where a long-vanished cabin stood, which had served for a time as Tubman’s family home.

The structure, of unknown form, was owned by her father. A timber foreman and lumberjack who had been enslaved, he had been given his freedom, the house where he lived, and a piece of land near the Blackwater River by his enslaver.

Officials said bricks, datable pieces of 19th-century pottery, a button, a drawer pull, a pipe stem, old records, and the location all pointed to the spot being the likely site of the Ben Ross cabin.

The announcement was made at 10 a.m. at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, in Church Creek, Md.

The find is a crucial piece of Tubman’s story, experts said. And it illuminates the role that her father, and her family, played in her development into the fearless Underground Railroad conductor that she became.


Schablitsky, an archaeologist with Maryland’s State Highway Administration, said: “A lot of us think we know everything … about Harriet Tubman. This discovery tells us that we don’t, and that we have the opportunity to … understand her not just as an older woman who brought people to freedom, but … what her younger years were like.”

Read entire article at Washington Post