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Archaeologists look to discover remains of Harriet Tubman's father's house in Dorchester Co.

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Posted at 11:26 AM, Nov 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 11:26:44-05

CAMBRIDGE, Md. — Archaeologists with the Maryland State Highway Administration will be in Dorchester County the next couple weeks, combing over a property that some historians believe Harriet Tubman’s father's house once stood.

Sitting southwest of Cambridge, the property is currently owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

“Finding Harriet Tubman’s father’s home would be an amazing discovery,” said Dr. Julie Schablitsky, MDOT SHA’s Chief Archaeologist. “Being able to add a new chapter to her life through archaeology and share it with the traveling public is an honor.”

The hope is to add any new discoveries to the Harriet Tubman Byway, a 125-mile scenic drive that includes more than 30 sites related to the life of the infamous conductor of the Underground Railroad.

Although Tubman herself was born on the Thompson Farm around 1822 in Dorchester County, she and her mother became enslaved by the Brodess family.

Her father, Ben Ross, however continued living on the farm until 1846, cutting timber for the Baltimore shipyards.

It's believed Tubman lived with Ross sometime in the 1840s.

“Any artifacts the archaeologists find will mean so much to the community,” said local African American historian and community member Hershel Johnson. “Even if they can’t establish where Ben Ross’s house is, any insight into how Harriet lived will be invaluable in understanding the history that led to her involvement with the Underground Railroad.”

Today the property is home to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge which makes up more than 32,000 acres of tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland.

To learn more visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center from 10 am to 4 pm Thursdays through Sundays.