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8 12, 2016

18. Bestpitch Ferry Bridge

18. Bestpitch Ferry Bridge

Marshland Secrets to Escape

Bestpitch Ferry Bridge is located at the site of a former ferry over the Transquaking River. This historic wooden bridge provides a view of Dorchester County marshlands. In this countryside, knowledgeable local people could hide for days, even weeks, and follow the waterways north toward Underground Railroad connections in the East New Market area, Caroline County, and onto freedom.

Many free and enslaved African American watermen operated ferry crossings throughout the region. They transported agricultural and timber products along the region’s many rivers on rafts. This provided opportunities for freedom seekers to hitch a ride or stow away in the holds and sail away to freedom.

The Blackwater and Transquaking rivers and their estuaries provided opportunities for local residents to hunt, fish and gather food for survival. Abundant fish and fowl live and breed in these waters, and many small and larger animals, including muskrats, rabbits, squirrels and deer live in nearby marshes and woods. Nuts, berries and a variety of roots and herbs round out the possible food and medicinal supplements available to 19th-century residents.

Information

Address

Bestpitch Ferry road and Transquaking River
Bucktown, MD 21613

GPS Coordinates: 38.417229,-75.992767

Practical info
  • Cars only, no buses!
  • Buses turn around in DNR parking lot 1/4 mile on the right before bridge.
  • One-lane bridge
  • Parking on both sides of river
  • Boat launch

 

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8 12, 2016

19. Scott’s Chapel

19. Scott’s Chapel

Drive-by Access Only

Harriet Tubman’s master, Edward Brodess, was a member of the congregation founded here in 1812. Tubman, her mother, and siblings may have worshipped here with other enslaved families and their owners.

Traditionally, the enslaved were required by their masters to attend church services with them, sitting in the back of the church or in balconies, separate from white congregants. The current building was constructed in 1891. The church has separate graveyards with blacks buried just east of Bucktown Road and whites buried behind the church and grove of trees. Members of the Bucktown community from Harriet Tubman’s time are laid to rest in this cemetery.

This is an active community church. Please respect the sanctity of the grounds and services.

Photo above credit of Chesapeake Bay Program

Information

Address

Bucktown Road
Bucktown, MD 21613

Practical Info
  • No Public Access

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8 12, 2016

20. Pritchett Meredith Farm

20. Pritchett Meredith Farm

Betrayed by a Black Underground Railroad Conductor

Drive-by Access Only

The flight of the “Dover Eight” made national headlines on March 8, 1857 when eight slaves escaped together from the Bucktown area, two of them from this farm. The group first sought help from Reverend Samuel Green in East New Market. Then they found assistance from Harriet Tubman’s father, Ben Ross, at Poplar Neck in Caroline County. Eventually they found their way to Thomas Otwell, a black Underground Railroad conductor in Delaware. Tubman trusted Otwell with the group’s safety. Instead, He betrayed her trust and lured them to the Dover jail so he could collect the $3,000 reward for their capture. With quick thinking and a show of force, the group successfully broke out of the jail and fled to Wilmington, then Philadelphia, and finally to Canada.

Local slaveholders sought swift and stern justice for anyone who assisted the “Dover Eight.” The Reverend Samuel Green was arrested and jailed on suspicion of aiding the group’s escape. Ben Ross nearly experienced the same fate, but Tubman rescued him just in time. Two of the eight escapees temporarily joined John Brown’s small army in Canada before the raid on Harper’s Ferry.

Information

Address

Bestpitch Ferry Road
Bucktown, MD 21613

GPS Coordinates: 38.451665,-76.030015

Practical info
  • No public access

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8 12, 2016

21. Faith Community United Methodist Church

21. Faith Community United Methodist Church

Faith United Methodist Church and Rev. Sam Green

Sarah Young, a free black woman, deeded land to establish the Colored People’s Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844. Now known as Faith Community United Methodist Church, this church is the second structure to house this still-active congregation.

Reverend Samuel Green, a free black preacher, was one of the church’s first trustees. A highly respected preacher, he offered hope and resistance to slavery. His preaching did not escape the close scrutiny by white overseers, however. African-Americans regarded southern white ministers as part of the system of slavery. These ministers stressed obedience and patience.

Born in slavery, Green purchased his freedom in 1834. Within 10 years, he purchased the freedom of his wife, “Kitty.” His children, however, remained enslaved and out of his reach. In 1854, his son, Sam, Jr., fled to Canada, but Green’s daughter, Sarah, was sold away from her two little children and never seen again.

Green turned anger into action. As an Underground Railroad agent, Reverend Green helped Harriet Tubman and many others to freedom, including a group of freedom seekers called the “Dover Eight” in March 1857. He was caught and brought to trial. Unable to convict Green, the white jury acquitted him. He was soon charged with possession of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a violation of Maryland’s law governing possession of abolitionist literature by people of color. He was sentenced to ten years in prison.

Information

Address

509 Railroad Avenue
East New Market, MD 21631

GPS Coordinates: 38.596774,-75.914811

Practical info
  • Street parking only
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Water tours

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8 12, 2016

22. Jacob and Hannah Leverton Home

22. Jacob and Hannah Leverton Home

Station House of Quaker Underground Railroad Agents
Privately Owned

Refugees from slavery found sanctuary here. One morning in the mid-1840s, a young enslaved woman, covered in bloodstained clothing, walked up to the Leverton farm. Jacob and Hannah took her in, nursed and fed her, and gave her clean clothing. Jacob was seen later that night traveling northward in his carriage with an unidentified guest. The young woman’s enslaver inquired about her at the Leverton home the next day. Jacob told the man that he had helped the girl and then “let her pass on.” The infuriated slave owner sued Jacob Leverton. Ordered to pay a large fine, Jacob became ill and soon died. His wife, Hannah most likely continued their Underground Railroad efforts. Jacob and Hannah Leverton were white, Quaker abolitionists. Their house has been described as “the main stopping place for the Underground Railroad in the region.” Along with the Levertons, free black millwright Daniel Hubbard and Quakers Jonah and Esther Kelley provided havens on their properties to help slaves reach freedom.

For more information, call 410-673-1910.

Information

Address

3531 Seaman Road
Preston, MD 21655
410-673-1910

GPS Coordinates: 38.705033,-75.890304

Practical info
  • Network to Freedom program site
  • Private property
  • Drive by only

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8 12, 2016

23. Linchester Mill

23. Linchester Mill

Enslaved and Free Blacks Working Side by Side

Daily life around Linchester Mill provided fertile yet dangerous ground for those seeking freedom. Whites and blacks, free and enslaved, would have regular contact here, at the general store or the post office. Free and enslaved African Americans worked side-by-side, providing a constant flow of information and support to freedom seekers. Quakers and free blacks who lived near the mill secretly helped fleeing slaves pass through the area.

A series of water-powered grist and sawmills operated here from the 1680s until 1979. The mill was situated amidst a secret network of safe houses: the Levertons, the Hubbards and the Kelleys on the west side, and Harriet Tubman’s parents Ben and Rit Ross at Poplar Neck on the east side. Daniel Hubbard, a known Underground Railroad conductor who lived less than a mile away, probably worked at the mill and may have helped build it. The milldam provided a possible crossing point over Hunting Creek for fugitives headed to the Ross home at Poplar Neck, to Marsh Creek Church or Preston and beyond. Such crossing points helped freedom seekers stay dry, particularly important in cold weather, and to avoid unwanted attention.

Information

Address

Route 331 and Linchester Road
Preston, MD 21655

GPS Coordinates: 38.701374,-75.897358

Practical info
  • Parking
  • Restrooms
  • Braille Trail
  • Picnic area
  • Mill tours by appointment
  • Information about the area

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8 12, 2016

24. Choptank Landing

24. Choptank Landing

Site of Harriet Tubman’s Most Daring Rescues

Harriet Tubman’s parents were active in the Underground Railroad in this area, and she most likely made her first escape from near here. Dr. Anthony C. Thompson employed Tubman’s father, Ben Ross on his 2,200 acres of heavily forested land in Poplar Neck during the late 1840s and 1850s. He also employed large numbers of free and enslaved black laborers in his timbering operations and sawmill.

On Christmas Day 1854, Tubman led her three brothers to freedom from Poplar Neck. Robert, Ben and Henry, and several others hid in a corncrib until dark, when they could begin their journey north. At nightfall, Tubman safely led them towards freedom, traveling through Delaware, Pennsylvania and across upstate New York to St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

Josiah Bailey, a skilled shipwright, escaped slavery in November 1856 by rowing a boat at night six miles from Jamaica Point in Talbot County up the Choptank River. He passed by here on his way to Poplar Neck. Then he met with Ben Ross, Tubman’s father, to plan his escape the next time Tubman was ready to go.

In March 1857, Ben Ross was suspected of aiding the escape of eight slaves, called the Dover Eight. Harriet Tubman rushed to the Eastern Shore to rescue her parents at great risk to herself before her father could be arrested. Cobbling together a makeshift, one-axle wagon, she rigged up a horse with a straw collar and drove her parents toward Delaware. They eventually made their way to St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada with the help of numerous Underground Railroad agents along the way.

Information

Address

Choptank Road at Choptank River, Preston, MD 21655

GPS Coordinates: 38.681619,-75.951033

Practical info
  • Seasonal restrooms
  • Beach
  • Marina
  • Public landing
  • Kayak entry

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8 12, 2016

25. Mount Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Cemetery

25. Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Secret Meeting Place

This is the site of the original Mount Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Church, an African-American church community established in 1849 when local Quakers sold this land to free blacks, so they could build their own church. The congregation later moved to the town of Preston, where they still meet for services. This cemetery is still used by the church.

The cemetery may have served as a meeting place for fugitives on the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman was known to have used a cemetery as a rendezvous point for some of her escapes north. Laws restricted blacks from meeting in groups, and Tubman preferred to meet those who were fleeing with her in secret places away from their homes. She “was never seen on the plantation herself.”

Choosing a meeting place, sometimes miles distant, protected Harriet from discovery should any of the fleeing slaves get caught by their masters. A group of slaves gathering in a cemetery might not arouse the same attention as a group of black people gathering in a home, or even secretly in the woods, which was specifically forbidden by law.

Information

Address

2246 Marsh Creek Road
Preston, MD 21655

GPS Coordinates: 38.720533,-75.926176

Practical info
  • Parking

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8 12, 2016

26. Jonestown

26. Jonestown

Jenkins Jones established Jonestown as a community of free African-Americans in antebellum years. Jenkins and other free blacks wished to improve their destiny through education, so they founded a school and hired teachers to stay in the community and teach their children. The courageous Jonestown residents had the common bond of faith in God, which gave them hope for their future. They used this faith to empower themselves to create positive change for themselves. The people of Jonestown may have had connections in assisting Harriet Tubman and her rescue missions. Today, descendants of the original founders of Jonestown are successful professionals with firm roots in this community.

Information

Address

Jonestown Community Park
Preston, MD 21655

Practical info
  • Motor coach-accessible
  • At the community park, you will find a playground, a trail and an open field

 

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8 12, 2016

27. Webb Cabin

27. Webb Cabin

Typical African-American Home

James H. Webb, a free African-American farmer, built this hand-hewn log home around 1852 and lived here with his enslaved wife and their four children – Charles, Elizabeth, John and Ann, and Webb’s father, Henry. The family were members of nearby Mount Pleasant Church. The one-room home, with its “potato hole,” open fireplace, and loft accessed by a crude ladder, was built of materials found nearby. It sits on its original ballast-stone foundation from ships that plied the Chesapeake Bay.

Typical of housing for most African Americans at the time, this cabin is a rare survivor today. It also represents the kind of housing that sheltered many poor white families during the early and mid-19th century. Harriet Tubman’s father and mother, Ben and Rit Ross, probably lived in a very similar structure at nearby Poplar Neck.

The lack of resources and primitive characteristics of such buildings have long precluded preservation of many structures like this one. Webb’s cabin has been preserved for generations and utilized for a variety of purposes. The structure is owned and maintained by the Caroline Historical Society and sits on a one-acre plot of land owned by Caroline County.

Information

Address

Grove Road
Preston, MD 21655

GPS Coordinates: 38.755608,-75.892793

Practical info
  • Parking
  • Picnic area

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