Mount Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Cemetery
“Secret Meeting Place”
This is the site of the original Mount Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Church, an African-American church community that began when local Quakers sold land to free blacks in 1849, 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 and 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 flights north. Preferring to meet at a location away from the home sites and plantations of freedom seekers fleeing with her, Harriet “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.
The surrounding area was also the scene of some of Harriet Tubman’s most daring rescues. Dr. Anthony C. Thompson owned 2,200 acres of heavily forested land near here during the late 1840s and 1850s. His timbering operations and sawmill employed large numbers of free and enslaved black laborers, including Harriet Tubman’s father, Ben Ross. Harriet’s parents were active in the Underground Railroad and she most likely made her first escape via Poplar Neck. Later, on Christmas Day 1854, Tubman led her three brothers to freedom from here. Fearing her parents’ exposure as agents after the Dover Eight escape in 1857, Harriet returned to rescue them at great risk to herself.
GPS Coordinates: 38.720533,-75.926176