Harriet Tubman’s lost family home found in Maryland

Maryland Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford announced the discovery of the historic home site of her father, Ben Ross.

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Maryland state officials announced the landmark discovery of Harriet Tubman‘s family home, found by archaeologists working on land owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Read More: America needs the Harriet Tubman $20 bill, but let’s not stop there

In a press release, the State Highway Administration (SHA) conducted research that led to discovering the historic homesite once owned by the father of famed abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, born Araminta Ross. The home belonged to her father, Ben Ross, and is believed to be where she spent her childhood and teenage years.

“This discovery adds another puzzle piece to the story of Harriet Tubman, the state of Maryland, and our nation,” said Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford.

“It is important that we continue to uncover parts of our history that we can learn from, especially when they can be lost to time and other forces. I hope that this latest success story can inspire similar efforts and help strengthen our partnerships in the future.”

In this photo provided by the Library of Congress, Harriet Tubman in seen in a photograph dating from 1860-75. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. are sponsoring legislation to bring a statue of Harriet Tubman to the U.S. Capitol Building. (Harvey B. Lindsley/Library of Congress via AP)

Descendants of Tubman were also present at the reveal. According to the press release, Tina Wyatt, Harriet Tubman’s great-great-great-grandniece and Ben Ross’ great-great-great-great-granddaughter expressed excitement for the historic find.

“Discovering the location of patriarch Ben Ross Sr.’s home and artifacts he used has humanized a man responsible for giving us a woman of epic proportions, Harriet Ross Tubman,” Wyatt said.

“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. 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.”

Archeologist Julie Schablitsky shared with the Washington Post how the discovery of a coin dating to the 1800s was vital in locating the homesite and other artifacts.

“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,” Schablitsky shared with the Post.

She added, “It’s not just one artifact that tells us we have something. It’s the assemblage. It’s the multiple pieces.”

According to the release, the newly-uncovered home site of Ben Ross will be highlighted on the historic Thompson Farm where he and his family were enslaved. The property was acquired in 2020 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as an addition to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County, Maryland.

“When we protect vulnerable habitats, we help preserve the stories of those who came before us, like Harriet Tubman’s father, Ben Ross,” said USFWS Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System Cynthia Martinez.

“Acquiring Peter’s Neck last year was a critical addition to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, as the area is predicted to naturally convert to marsh by 2100 because of sea-level rise. We look forward to working with our partners to create more opportunities to connect people to nature and strengthen the bond between the land and community.”

Read More: Visa Card depicting Harriet Tubman doing the ‘Wakanda Forever’ salute sparks backlash

Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary Tom Riford added, “This remarkable archaeological discovery is another reason that Maryland is ‘The Most Powerful Underground Railroad Storytelling Destination in the World.’”

He continued, “the newly found artifacts coupled with the historical research being conducted through a partnership between the Office of Tourism, the Maryland State Archives Legacy of Slavery program, and other public and private organizations ensures the authentic interpretation of the Underground Railroad all across Maryland.” 

In January, theGrio reported the President Joe Biden administration wants to ‘speed up’ effort to place Harriet Tubman on the $20 note.

U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty has been working tirelessly for Tubman’s image to be placed on the $20 note. Now that Biden is in office, Beatty is hoping to speed up the process of the “Woman on the Twenty Act of 2021” bill and replace Andrew Jackson’s image with a portrait of the late abolitionist.

House Democrats Urge Treasury Secretary Mnuchin To Place Abolitionist Harriet Tubman On New $20 Bill
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“For several years, I worked directly with the Department of Treasury to plan the release of the new $20 design featuring Harriet Tubman to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment,” said Beatty in a press release obtained by theGrio on January 25th.

“The American people want our currency to better reflect the diversity of our great country. I look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration, including the first-ever female Secretary of Treasury, Janet Yellen, to put a woman on the twenty and make the Tubman Twenty a reality.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced at the time, that plans to place Tubman back on the bill are moving forward. During a daily press briefing, she said, “It’s important that our money reflect the history and diversity of our country.”

This article contains reporting from theGrio’s Keydra Manns.

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