Maryland archaeologists recently unearthed artifacts that confirmed the location of the home where Harriet Tubman lived with her parents, Benjamin Ross and Harriet Green, in her youth.
Julie M. Schablitsky, the chief archaeologist at the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, made the discovery in March during an excavation in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. “We could tell from the glaze that the time period coincided perfectly with the Ross cabin,” she said of the ceramic shards found at the site that dated between the 1820s to 1840s. “I was like, ‘OK, this has to be it.'”
Around five years after his former owner Anthony Thompson’s death, Ross was freed and granted 10 acres of land, honoring the will of Thompson. He then purchased his wife’s freedom, where they and their still-enslaved children, including Tubman, lived. The abolitionist lived there from the approximate ages of 17-22, from 1839 to 1844.
“We looked at those artifacts closer and confirmed that these artifacts do date to the time period when he was living there,” Schablitsky explained to NBC News. “With the artifacts, the archaeology, the evidence of a building and just the location — knowing he worked in the timbered wetlands — those multiple lines of evidence told us unequivocally that this is the home of Ben Ross.”
The significant historical find was announced on April 20 by Maryland state officials at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center. “The discovery of Ben Ross’ cabin is a major find,” said Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford. “This discovery adds to another puzzle piece to the story of Harriet Tubman, the state of Maryland, and our nation.”
“Harriet Tubman worked alongside her father as a teenager. And historians believe that Tubman learned to navigate the land and waterways she would later traverse to lead enslaved people to freedom,” he added.
Tubman’s descendants were also thrilled to learn new information about their ancestor. “It means so much to the family to be able to see all of this,” said Tina Wyatt, Tubman’s great-great-great-grandniece and Ross’ great-great-great-great-granddaughter.
The land will eventually be added to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, “only place in the world that preserves and interprets the places where Harriet Tubman was born, lived, labored, and where she fled from.”