Search for Harriet Tubman’s childhood home, continues
DORCHESTER CO., Md- This week, archeologists with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) are combing through two miles of dirt, in the hopes of finding any clues about the home where Harriet Tubman may have been born. It’s a grueling process, but its one archeologists hope pays off in the end. This search may lead to the discovery of artifacts that played a major role in the life of Harriet Tubman.
“So we’re in the middle of nowhere, we’re in a swamp, it’s wet, it’s wooded, and so far we have not found anything at all in our shovels, shovel test pits, our screens,” says Dr. Julie Schablitsky, MDOT SHA’s Chief Archaeologist.
Monday, November 16 marked the 4th day of MDOT’s search party, and archeologists have yet to find any physical evidence of the whereabouts of the home of Ben Ross, Harriet Tubman’s father. The team is diligently sifting through the woods to locate any artifacts that may lead them to where his home used to be, or potentially . a former community.
“We’re hoping that the more work that we do out here, the more we can begin to add to the chapter of not only Harriet Tubman, but her families life as well,” says Dr. Schablitsky.
Historical records and maps from the early 20th century gave them a starting point to begin their search, for her exact birthplace, which is currently still unknown. Local African American historian and community member, Hershel Johnson states, “It would be so important to this community to say you know well, we know where Ben Ross’s cabin was, that’s where Harriet was born.”
They’re not expecting to find a standing house per say, but are hoping to stumble upon items such as nails or broken plates dating from the 1800s time period.
“As archeologist, we have a really big responsibility to the story of Harriet Tubman and her family,” says Dr. Schablitsky. If this search results in the discovery of Tubman’s childhood home, it would be put on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad byway for the public to see.
Johnson also says, “I know one thing, I’m excited, I think everyone else will be excited too if we find something, or if they find something.”
Archeologists tell us that they hope to find out more about Tubman, a woman who meant a great deal to Maryland, as well as the nation.
“There’s so much left to learn about Harriet Tubman and her family and I think that sometimes a middle of a the swamp in the middle of nowhere is a great place to start searching,” says Dr. Schablitsky.
Archeologists will continue to search, and if they find something, they plan to return to the area.
The property is apart of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. MDOT will continue their search on a 2 mile span along Harrisville Road until the end of the week.