“Harriet Tubman’s Childhood Home”
While this area has been historically recognized as Harriet Tubman’s birthplace, there is no conclusive evidence. Edward Brodess moved Tubman’s mother, Rit, and her children, to his farm in Bucktown in 1823 or 1824. Tubman spent her early years here and on nearby farms. No trace remains of Brodess’s home that once sat near the existing house at the end of the lane.
Harriet Tubman has provided us with few details about her owner, Edward Brodess, or the various masters to whom she was hired out for the nearly thirty years she spent in slavery. She 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, however. 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.”
Edward Brodess, with a small farm and few livestock, did not have enough work to employ fully all of his slaves. However, he had eight children to support, so he frequently hired his enslaved people out to neighboring farmers. When Tubman was only six years old, she was hired out to James Cook and his wife to learn the trade of weaving. Cook and his wife were cruel and her time spent with them left her ill and physically scarred. As one of her first tasks, Harriet was sent into the nearby marshes to tend Cook’s muskrat traps. Tubman became sick with measles but was forced to continue working the traps in the cold winter waters. She became gravely ill. Rit convinced Brodess to bring little Harriet home. Rit and her children suffered both emotionally and physically from these separations, one of the many injustices of the institution of slavery.
GPS Coordinates: 38.459031,-76.048522