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7 12, 2016

8. Malone’s Church

8. Malone’s Church

Early Church

For decades before the Civil War, four nearby communities, connected by footpaths through the woods, provided a strong social network among free and enslaved blacks. As soon as the war ended, these communities established their own African American churches. Founded in 1864, Malone’s Methodist Episcopal Church was the first. Their immediate formation after emancipation indicates that strong faith communities existed long before freedom came.

Beginning in the 1790s, a small but growing free black community established itself on lands surrounding this church. Over the years, more free families settled this area between Harrisville and White Marsh roads, known as Peter’s Neck. Many intermarried with enslaved families held in bondage by the local white landowners. This community created an important social world for Harriet and her family. The people timbered the land, farmed and worked the docks in nearby Madison.

Araminta Ross or “Minty,” later known as Harriet Tubman, was probably born in 1822 at Anthony Thompson’s farm on nearby Harrisville Road. Thompson cultivated grains and other foodstuffs, but timbering the white oak, pine, walnut and maple on his lands occupied the majority of his enslaved people’s efforts. By the time Harriet was born, Thompson enslaved nearly 40 people, including Ben Ross, her father. Ben was one of Thompson’s most valuable men. As a timber cutter and inspector, Ben’s skills increased the profitability of Thompson’s lands.

Tubman’s mother, Rit belonged to Thompson’s stepson, Edward Brodess, who later moved Rit and five of her children, including young Araminta (Harriet Tubman), to his farm in Bucktown. By 1840, Rit, Tubman, and several siblings were back living on Thompson’s farm. Harriet Tubman’s birth site is on private property. Nearly 200 years after her birth, no structural evidence of slave quarters remains at the site. Oral tradition suggests that Harriet Tubman worked and lived near the historic Malone’s Methodist Episcopal Church with her free husband, John Tubman.

Information

Address

White Marsh Road
Madison, MD 21648

GPS Coordinates: 38.491430,-76.216678

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7 12, 2016

9. Madison

9. Madison

Roots of Family and Community

Harriet Tubman spent her formative years around Madison. After living in Bucktown as a young child and adolescent, teenaged Harriet Tubman was hired out to work for John T. Stewart, who owned farms, a shipyard and businesses here. She toiled in the Stewarts’ house (no longer standing), then in their fields, on the docks and in their timber business.

Working for the Stewarts brought Harriet back near the community where her father lived and where she had been born. Tubman’s father, Ben Ross, was set free in 1840, and he worked in Stewart’s lumbering operation. Harriet learned important outdoor survival skills while laboring with her father in the woods, such as how to navigate by the stars, and find food and fresh water. These skills later proved vital as she confidently guided passengers along the Underground Railroad to freedom.

Harriet Tubman successfully led away Winnebar Johnson, enslaved by Samuel Harrington, from here in early June 1854. Johnson later passed through Underground Railroad agent William Still’s office in Philadelphia, where Still noted that Johnson had been “brought away by his sister Harriet two weeks ago.” Johnson was passed along to the bustling port of New Bedford in Massachusetts, where he lived and worked with other freedom seekers, some from Dorchester County.

In December 1854, Tubman had a coded letter sent to Jacob Jackson, a free black farmer who lived west of Madison. The postmaster read the letter and confronted Jackson, who denied knowing what it meant. But Jackson quickly notified Tubman’s brothers that she planned to lead them north from their parents’ home at Poplar Neck in Caroline County. When Harriet Tubman’s three brothers made it to freedom in Philadelphia, they chose as their aliases: James Stewart, John Stewart, and William Henry Stewart – the names of the white Stewart brothers.

Information

Address

MD Route 16, and Madison Canning House Rd.
Madison, MD 21648

GPS Coordinates: 38.507786,-76.222721

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  • Parking
  • Camping
  • Water Access
  • Restaurant nearby

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7 12, 2016

10. Joseph Stewart’s Canal

10. Joseph Stewart’s Canal

Danger and Drudgery in the Marshes

Drive-by Access Only

Over a period of 20 years, 1810-1832, enslaved and free blacks dug this seven-mile canal through the marsh by hand. It was a grueling and sometimes deadly endeavor. The wealthy, powerful, and slave-holding Stewart family owned large tracts of timber, shipyards, a store, and a mill near here. Joseph Stewart, Anthony Thompson, and nearby landowners designed this canal to float their logs and agricultural products to the ships at nearby wharves in Madison Bay.

Through her work on the docks and in the forests, Harriet learned the secret networks of communication that were the provenance of African-American men, particularly those employed as mariners, carrying timber and other goods to cities and towns around the Chesapeake Bay and into Delaware, Pennsylvania and New England. Beyond the watchful eye of white masters, they spoke of freedom in the North, the safe places along the way and the dangers in between. Feeding her own growing resentment of slavery’s injustices, the free world beyond the shores of Dorchester County emboldened Harriet.

In December 1854, after she had escaped to the north, Tubman communicated to her three brothers through Jacob Jackson, a Madison resident and free black veterinarian. Hearing through the secret maritime communication network that her brothers were about to be sold, she let Jackson know through a coded letter that she was ready to rescue them. Jackson lived south of this canal, and his former home site is now protected as part of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park.

Information

Address

MD Route 16 and Parsons Creek
Taylors Island, MD 21669

GPS Coordinates: 38.488349,-76.262765

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  • No parking
  • No public access

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7 12, 2016

11. New Revived United Methodist Church

11. New Revived United Methodist Church

The New Revived United Methodist Church, once known as Jefferson Methodist Episcopal Church, was established in Smithville in 1876. Before the Civil War, Methodist Camp Meetings were popular in the area.

Following the Civil War, four African-American churches, including this one, were built in nearby local communities. In1864, Malone Methodist Episcopal Church on White Marsh Road was the first to be established, followed by Christ Rock Methodist Episcopal Church near Cambridge in 1875, then Jefferson Methodist Episcopal Church here in 1876, and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Harrisville in 1880.

One by one, the churches closed their doors following World War II as families moved away and the number of congregants declined. Today, people from each of these four congregations are part of the New Revived United Methodist Church congregation. Harriet Tubman’s brother, William Henry Ross Stewart, married Harriet
Parker, a free woman from Smithville, around 1850. In late 1854, Harriet Tubman helped three of her brothers escape to Canada, including William Henry. His wife joined him with their two small children in 1855. Marriages between members of these neighboring communities illustrate the social interaction between free and enslaved people before the end of the Civil War and emancipation.

Information

Address

4350 Smithville Road
Taylors Island, MD 21669

GPS Coordinates: 38.473371,-76.274383

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7 12, 2016

12. Buttons Creek

12. Buttons Creek

The Art of Disguise

Jane Kane was enslaved by Horatio Jones, whom she described as “the worst man in the country.” Jones’ plantation sat along Buttons Creek and the Blackwater River, west of this landing on property that is now part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Harriet Tubman’s brother, Ben Ross, had hoped to marry Jane, but Jones refused to allow them to do so. Ben arranged for Jane to join him when he and his brothers planned to flee during the Christmas holidays in 1854.

Just before the escape, Ben hid a suit of men’s clothing in one of Jones’ gardens. On Christmas Eve, Jane put on the clothes and slipped quietly away from the plantation. Though she was soon discovered missing, the other slaves on the farm failed to recognize that the “young man” walking up from the garden, “as if from the river,” was actually Jane. Cleverly disguised in men’s clothing, she successfully executed a daring plan to flee her heartless master. She was soon on her way to be with Ben and to secretly rendezvous with Harriet Tubman at Poplar Neck in Caroline County.

This site can be viewed by canoe, kayak or small boat on one of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge’s water trails. Stop at the boat launch on Route 335 near the state park.

Information

Address

MD Route 335 and Blackwater River, Church Creek, MD 21622

GPS Coordinates: 38.439327,-76.1451

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  • Kayak/canoe launch
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7 12, 2016

13. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center

13. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center

Honoring a Hero

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center located amid the landscapes where Tubman lived and toiled. The unspoiled scenes in the area look much as they would have in Tubman’s time. The Tubman Visitor Center features 10,000 square feet of engaging, enlightening multimedia exhibits about her life. It’s a great stop itself and a great launching point for exploring the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a scenic, self-guided driving tour that includes 36 sites related to Tubman and the Underground Railroad on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, with more sites in Delaware leading to Philadelphia.

The Tubman Visitor Center is open daily from 9am to 5pm. It is closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. Admission is free.

Exhibits feature information about Tubman’s childhood and young adulthood, living and laboring under slavery here in Dorchester County and neighboring Caroline County. The center immerses visitors in the secret networks of the Underground Railroad and Tubman’s own daring rescue missions. Exhibits also feature Tubman’s actions during the Civil War, and her later years as a suffragist, civil rights worker and humanitarian. The exhibits emphasize her values of faith, family, community, and freedom. Tubman’s story is still relevant today, transcending race, gender, age, religion, and nationality — and shows us that regardless of circumstances, you can make choices that positively impact others.

The 10,000-square-foot visitor center includes exhibits as well as a theater that tell the stories of Harriet Tubman’s life and work. It also includes a classroom, gift shop, and library. If you’re bringing children, be sure to stop by the front desk and ask about the Junior Ranger program. The state park’s 17 acres include a meditation garden, nature trails and a 2,600-square-foot outdoor pavilion (for gatherings of no more than 75 people) available by rental (email htursp.dnr@maryland.gov for details). The center includes state-of-the-art green elements such as bioretention ponds, rain barrels and vegetative roofs.

To request a tour for a group, complete the tour request form.

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center is operated by the Maryland Park Service in partnership with the National Park Service to honor Harriet Tubman. It opened to the public in March 2017.

Information

Address

4068 Golden Hill Road
Church Creek, MD 21622

Get Directions

GPS Coordinates: 38.448304,-76.138687

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8 12, 2016

14. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

14. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Timeless Landscapes

The forests, marshes, and waterways that characterize the 28,000-acre refuge are largely unchanged from the time that Harriet Tubman lived and worked in Dorchester County. The refuge is situated halfway between where she spent portions of her childhood on Edward Brodess’ farm near Bucktown and the plantation where her father labored and where she was born at Peter’s Neck. Knowledge of the terrain was vital to survival while hiding and trying to flee.

Tubman and others had to successfully navigate the land and waterways, trap and forage for food, and hide from their pursuers. Fleeing slaves often lacked proper clothing to protect them from the elements and they suffered from weather extremes and insects, in addition to the terror of drowning or being caught. Though Harriet Tubman is not known to have liberated others from this area, several escapes did occur within the refuge boundaries.

For more information, visit www.fws.gov/blackwater/, or call 410-228-2677.

Information

Address

2145 Key Wallace Drive
Cambridge, MD 21613
410-228-2677

GPS Coordinates: 38.444829,-76.119574

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  • Visitor center
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8 12, 2016

15. Little Blackwater Bridge

15. Little Blackwater Bridge

At work in the marshes

A bridge has crossed the Little Blackwater near here since the 1700s, when Harriet Tubman’s grandmother, Modesty, was enslaved on Atthow Pattison’s tobacco farm, situated across the river on the southeast side. Modesty gave birth to Harriet’s mother, Rit Green, there. When Pattison died in January 1797, he gave the enslaved girl “Rittia” to his granddaughter, Mary Pattison, with the stipulation that Rit and all of her future children be set free when “she and they arrive to forty-five years of age.”

Rit later moved to Madison when her owner, and young widow, Mary Pattison Brodess, married Anthony Thompson in 1803. There, Rit met and married Ben Ross and they started their own family. Atthow Pattison’s wish that Rit and her children eventually be set free was never honored.

Years later, Ben and Rit’s child Minty, the young Harriet Tubman, was hired to work for the James Cook family who lived near this bridge. Initially, Minty was expected to learn the trade of weaving. Instead, she was sent into the nearby marshes to watch Cook’s muskrat traps. It was harsh, dangerous work for a child, done in the winter, when muskrat furs are at their finest.

Information

Address

Key Wallace Drive and Little Blackwater River
Church Creek, MD 21622

GPS Coordinates: 38.445901,-76.087575

Practical info
  • Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center nearby

 

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8 12, 2016

16. Brodess Farm

16. Brodess Farm

Harriet Tubman’s Childhood Home
(Privately Owned)

Edward Brodess, Harriet Tubman’s enslaver, lived at this site. He moved Tubman’s mother Rit and her children to his farm in Bucktown after 1823 or 1824. Tubman spent her early years here and on nearby farms. No trace remains of Brodess’ original home that once sat near the existing house at the end of the lane.

Edward Brodess, with a small farm and few livestock, did not have enough work to fully employ all of his slaves. However, he had eight children to support, so he frequently hired his enslaved people out to neighboring farmers. Rit and her children suffered both emotionally and physically from these separations, one of the many injustices of the institution of slavery.

Harriet Tubman later told an interviewer that she seldom lived with the Brodesses. He was “never unnecessarily cruel; but as was common among slaveholders, he often hired out his slaves to others, some of whom proved to be tyrannical and brutal to the utmost limit of their power.” Harriet’s brothers, Ben and Robert, recalled harsher treatment at the hands of the Brodesses. Robert felt Edward Brodess “was not fit to own a dog.” Ben was more to the point: “Where I came from,” he later recalled, “it would make your flesh creep, and your hair stand on end, to know what they do to the slaves.”

Information

Address

Greenbrier Road
Bucktown, MD 21613

GPS Coordinates: 38.459031,-76.048522

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  • Historic marker
  • Small roadside pull-off

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8 12, 2016

17. Bucktown Village Store

17. Bucktown Village Store

Site of Harriet Tubman’s First Act of Defiance

In 1835, Bucktown was a busy community with two stores, a shopkeeper’s home, blacksmith shop, and surrounding farms at this crossroads. Shipyards were nearby on the Transquaking River.

Hired out to a nearby farmer, Harriet Tubman and the farm’s cook went to a store at this crossroads to purchase some goods for the house. At the same time, a slave belonging to another master left his work without permission. His overseer pursued him to the store and ordered Tubman to help him tie up the man, but she resisted. Suddenly, the slave broke free and ran. The overseer grabbed a two-pound weight off the counter and hurled it toward him. It struck young Tubman in the head, almost killing her and causing a severe injury that troubled her for the rest of her life.

Tubman recalled “My hair had never been combed and it stood out like a bushel basket . . . I expect that thar hair saved my life.” The blow from the iron weight cracked her skull. “They carried me to the house all bleeding an’ fainting. I had no bed, no place to lie down on at all, and they lay me on the seat of the loom, and I stayed there all that day and next,” she later recalled. She was forced “to work again and there I worked with the blood and sweat rolling down my face till I couldn’t see.”

(Operated by the Bucktown Village Foundation, 410-901-9255)

Information

Address

4303 Bucktown Road
Bucktown, MD 21613
410-901-9255

GPS Coordinates: 38.459167,-76.031385

Practical info
  • Network to Freedom Program site
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