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8 12, 2016

28. Gilpin Point

28. Gilpin Point

Sailing Away to Freedom

Forty-year-old Joseph Cornish was enslaved by Captain Samuel LeCompte, married to a free black woman, and the father of five children. On December 8, 1855, Cornish most likely knew about the secret network Harriet Tubman relied upon in Philadelphia and New York, when he started out on “foot for Gilpins Point.” He had heard there was a vessel about to sail. He “worked his passage” to Baltimore, and then he made his way to Underground Railroad agent William Still in Philadelphia on Christmas Day. From there, Cornish was forwarded to agent Sydney H. Gay in New York City. He eventually made his way to St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, where Harriet Tubman, her brothers and many others from Maryland’s Eastern Shore were settling into their freedom.

In the mid-19th century, Gilpin Point was one of the busiest wharves along the Choptank River. It served as a landing for passenger ships and merchant vessels. It sat just upriver from Dr. Anthony C. Thompson’s plantation where Harriet Tubman’s parents lived and where Harriet herself conducted several of her most famous escapes.

Information

Address

Holly Park Drive
Harmony, MD 21655

GPS Coordinates: 38.809594,-75.896881

Practical info
  • Parking
  • Network to Freedom program site
  • Beach
  • Fishing
  • Picnic area
  • Kayaking

Helpful Links

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8 12, 2016

29. William Still Interpretive Center

29. William Still Interpretive Center

Tragedy and Triumph on the Road to Freedom

William Still’s mother Sidney and four of her children lived in a house similar to this on Alexander “Saunders” Griffith’s plantation. Her husband, Levin Still, had been set free in 1798 by his young enslaver and resettled in New Jersey, hoping to bring his family there. Around 1806, Sidney escaped with her four children, but was soon recaptured.

After being locked away for three months, she was released and promptly fled again. In a heartbreaking decision, she was forced to leave behind two sons, Peter and Levin. Enraged by her actions, Griffith sold the two boys to slave traders from Kentucky. After joining her husband in New Jersey, Sidney renamed herself Charity, and the Stills raised a large family there. William, born in 1821, was the youngest of 18 siblings.

William Still became educated and moved to Philadelphia where he became Chairman of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, assisting in the escapes of an estimated 1,500 freedom seekers. Harriet Tubman frequently passed through Still’s office, seeking protection and support for her rescues.

In 1850, Still realized that one of the men he was assisting was his own lost brother Peter, who had been sent to Alabama by his Kentucky enslavers years earlier. Peter’s later memoir, The Kidnapped and the Ransomed, raised enough funds to purchase his enslaved family. William Still’s documentation of more than 1,000 freedom seekers was published in 1871 as The Underground Railroad, one of the most important and authentic records of the operations of the Underground Railroad in history.

The Interpretive Center celebrates the Still family’s own daring and heart-wrenching struggle for freedom from bondage through escape, resettlement, and later, Underground Railroad activity. The center, housed in a historic one room “cottage” from 1820, features a period “slave cabin” interior, exhibits and a “garden patch” highlighting foodstuffs common in gardens cultivated by Eastern Shore enslaved people.

Information

Address

4-H Park, Detour Road
Denton, MD 21629

GPS Coordinates: 38.833305,-75.833382

Practical info
  • 4-H Park
  • Picnic pavillions
  • Restrooms
  • Conference Center
  • Exhibits

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8 12, 2016

30. Caroline Courthouse

30. Caroline Courthouse

Site of Slave Auction and Jail

Although reconstructed after the Civil War, the courthouse’s place in the middle of town is symbolic of the central role it played in the past. The courthouse symbolized white legal, political, economic and social power during the antebellum period. A slave market was located here, where slaves were auctioned to buyers and traders. Courthouse Square was also the site of the jail where captured runaways and Underground Railroad conductors, like Hugh Hazlett, were held. Hazlett, a 27-year-old Irishman, was arrested in Greensboro for assisting seven people to escape slavery in 1858. After being jailed, Hazlett and the seven others were transported to Cambridge by steamboat for trial. Greeted by an angry mob, Hazlett was sentenced to 44 years in prison.

In 1853, African American residents celebrated the escape and return of Richard Potter, a free black youth, who had been kidnapped by a local farmer and smuggled to a Delaware boat captain to be sold as a slave. Punishments for “stealing slaves” or “enticing slaves away” or outright kidnapping included long prison terms, heavy fines, and confiscation of property.

For more information, call 410-479-2055.

Information

Address

Courthouse Square
Denton, MD 21629
410-479-2055

GPS Coordinates: 38.886442,-75.832752

Practical info
  • ParkingKiosk with maps/info
  • Museum of Rural Life
  • Byway interpretation and exhibits
  • Restaurants nearby

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8 12, 2016

31. Moses Viney/Daniel Crouse Memorial Park

31. Moses Viney Daniel Crouse Memorial Park

Challenging Slavery

Moses Viney was born into slavery in Talbot County, but escaped on Easter morning in 1840, after learning he might be sold to slave traders in the Deep South.

As a child, Moses played with his master’s son – Richard Murphy – who shared Moses’ birthday. When they turned seven, they weren’t allowed to play together anymore. Mr. Murphy sent Moses out to work in the fields. When Mr. Murphy passed away, Richard decided to sell Moses to the highest bidder.

Two men fled with him: Hinson Piney and Washington Brooks. Their flight from Talbot County brought them to Caroline County near Denton on the Choptank River. The slavecatchers’ hounds were fast on their scent, tracking them down. But Moses had prepared for this moment. He had been kind to those dogs for months – fed them, patted them. When the dogs approached Moses, he told them to go on home. The dogs wagged their tails, and bounded away. Moses found a canoe nearby without paddles. He took two fence posts and used them to row across the Choptank River near here.

The men traveled by night, hid out by day. They took a steamboat from Smyrna, Delaware to Philadelphia, then eventually reached Schenectady, New York. Moses worked as the personal carriage-driver to the president of Union College, Eliphalet Nott.

Ten years later in 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, allowing any slave owner to reclaim his “property” at any time, in any state. While Moses was driving President Nott’s carriage through town, there on the corner was Richard Murphy – his childhood friend and former enslaver – looking to reclaim his property. Moses rushed to Nott and begged for help. Nott helped Moses escape to Canada and paid Murphy $250 to leave Moses alone. Eventually, Moses came back from Canada, having escaped slavery for the second time.

Information

Address

5 Crouse Park
Denton, MD 21629
410 479-2050
www.carolinemd.org

Practical info
  • Motorcoach-accessible
  • Caroline County Visitor Center located on site welcomes guests to discover the area’s heritage, places to explore and things to do, including dining, shopping, recreation and more.

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8 12, 2016

32. Denton Steamboat Wharf

32. Denton Steamboat Wharf

Once Thriving Port

During the 1850s, steamboats loaded with freight and passengers made weekly departures from Denton to Baltimore. Enslaved African-Americans worked in shipyards here on the Choptank River. When Underground Railroad conductor Hugh Hazlett was arrested for assisting enslaved people to flee, he boarded a steamboat here in 1858 on his way to trial in Cambridge, downriver, where he faced possible mob violence.

The Choptank River played a role in the history of slavery as much as any plantation field. At this point it was still wide and deep enough to serve as a barrier to escape for freedom seekers. Imagine the challenges they faced in trying to ford or cross waterways or hide away on vessels. Denton boasted not only an active port, but also a ferry crossing, and the Eastern Shore’s first moveable bridge structure spanned the Choptank here in 1811.

The Denton Steamboat Wharf also houses the Caroline County Office of Tourism.

For more information, visit www.tourcaroline.com or call 410-479-0655.

Information

Address

10219 River Landing Road
Denton, MD 21629
410-479-0655

GPS Coordinates: 38.888378,-75.839597

Practical info
  • Tourism office
  • Maps
  • Exhibits
  • Picnic area on deck overlooking river
  • Canoe/kayak launch
  • Adkins Arboretum

Helpful Links

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8 12, 2016

33. Tuckahoe Neck Meeting House

33. Tuckahoe Neck Meeting House

Quakers as Underground Railroad Agents
Privately Owned

Built in 1803, this was one of five Quaker meeting houses in Caroline County whose members sustained a local Underground Railroad network. Quakers also supported women’s equality and the end of slavery. By 1790, Quaker meetings on Maryland’s Eastern Shore were free of all slave owners. Quakers then became some of the earliest and most effective activists to end slavery in America and abroad.

They quickly began establishing a loose network of individuals with shared values who could be tapped to help escaping slaves find their way north, and provide support and shelter once they arrived. Abolitionist Hannah Leverton from the Linchester Mill area spoke here and was married here.

Quakers were at the forefront of the fledgling Women’s Rights Movement in the mid-19th century. Quaker women like Lucretia Mott, her sister, Martha Coffin Wright, and many others participated in the first women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York. Other powerful abolitionists and like-minded men and women supported them. Harriet Tubman would become close to many of these women, and through them, she would become involved with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Information

Address

Meeting House Road
Denton, MD 21629

GPS Coordinates: 38.891444,-75.842966

Practical info
  • Parking
  • Adkins Arboretum nearby

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8 12, 2016

34. Adkins Arboretum

34. Adkins Arboretum

Typical Woodland and Marshland

Adkins Arboretum is a 440-acre garden and preserve dedicated to promoting the appreciation and conservation of the region’s native plants. Walking along streams, over wetlands, and through woodlands allows visitors to experience the kinds of landscapes that freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad passed through on their way north.

The Arboretum offers programs year-round in ecology, horticulture and natural history for all ages, including special programming related to survival strategies used by fleeing slaves traversing these landscapes generations ago. Five miles of paths feature streams, meadows and rich bottomland forest.

Visit their website at www.adkinsarboretum.org.

Information

Address

12610 Eveland Road
Ridgely, MD 21660
410-634-2847

GPS Coordinates: 38.954553,-75.931191

Practical info
  • Visitor center
  • Parking
  • Interpretive exhibits
  • Restrooms
  • Audio tours
  • Trails

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8 12, 2016

35. Greensboro

35. Greensboro

Dangerous Crossing

In 1797, Greensboro resident Peter Harrington was president of the Choptank Abolition Society, formed to promote the end of slavery in Maryland.

Supported by Quakers, some Methodists, and others, regional societies like this worked on the local level. Petitions to the Maryland House of Delegates first focused on the trafficking of slaves and demanded an end to the exportation of slaves and free people of color.

Marketable goods were brought here, transferred to wagons and hauled to Delaware markets. Produce and timber products were delivered and shipped to ports near and far. Through these trade activities, Greensboro residents, free and enslaved, learned about religious revivalism, abolition and other new ideas. The northernmost bridge over the Choptank River was located in Greensboro. Though freedom seekers traveling north were tempted to use bridges, they usually avoided them, as the threat of recapture was high at these obvious crossing points.

In 1849, the year Harriet Tubman escaped, scores of freedom seekers fled nearby Talbot County. The slaveholders knew many were moving through Caroline County on their way to Delaware and beyond. Some of them, no doubt, passed near here. In August 1852, two men from Sandtown, Delaware, tried to entice a slave named Tom to escape. Tom informed his master, and an ambush was set to capture the two men in Greensboro. News reports suggested that the men were going to kidnap Tom and sell him to slave traders in the Deep South.

Information

Address

North Main Street and Cedar Lane
Greensboro, MD 21639

GPS Coordinates: 38.976015,-75.804296

Practical info
  • Parking on side road
  • Lodging nearby
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Restrooms

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8 12, 2016

36. Christian Park / Red Bridges

36. Red Bridges

A Place to Wade Across the Choptank

This stream at the headwaters of the Choptank River was possibly near Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad route to Sandtown, Delaware. The current at this location is fast, yet the water is shallow.

Freedom seekers who followed the Choptank River to Delaware may have crossed here and at other shallow tributaries near the Choptank’s headwaters. Like Harriet Tubman, fugitives relied heavily on the secret network of safe houses belonging to blacks and whites throughout central and northern Delaware. Harriet Tubman later told historian Wilbur Siebert that her preferred route was by way of her parents’ home in Poplar Neck, to Sandtown across the Maryland border.

While fugitives made parts of their journeys unaided, the assistance provided by a secret network of sympathetic people and those who ran safe houses was invaluable to their success. Throughout Delaware, communities of Quakers and a large free black population helped hide and escort runaways northward on their way to Pennsylvania.

Information

Address

Red Bridges Road
Greensboro, MD 21639

GPS Coordinates: 38.999843,-75.787492

Practical info
  • Picnic area
  • Fishing
  • Small craft launch

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23 11, 2016

Tubman Visitor Center to open in March 2017

The Maryland Park Service and the National Park Service are building the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center close to the lands where Harriet Tubman lived and labored. The 17-acre complex is located on Route 335 near Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland. Read more.

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