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Harriet Tubman historic family home site discovered in Maryland

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Posted at 10:24 AM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 13:26:34-04

CAMBRIDGE, Md. — Federal and state officials in Maryland announced the discovery of a historic home site once owned by Ben Ross, the father of Harriet Tubman.

Sitting southwest of Cambridge, the 2,600 acre Peter's Neck property was purchased for $6 million by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 2020, and is now part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

The property contains 10 acres left to Ross by Anthony Thompson in the mid-1800s.

According to his will, Ross received the land when he was freed from slavery, five years after Thompson’s death in 1836.

An archaeology team led by the Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration began searching for evidence linked to Ben Ross in November. The department has a team who specialize in African American archaeology and locations connected to slavery.

In March, Chief Archaeologist Dr. Julie Schablitsky and her team found numerous artifacts dating to the 1800s, including nails, brick, glass, dish fragments and even a button, confirming evidence of the cabin.

“The importance of discovering Ben Ross’ cabin here is the connection to Harriet Tubman. She would’ve spent time here as a child, but also she would’ve come back and been living here with her father in her teenage years, working alongside him,” said Dr. Schablitsky.

On hand to celebrate the discovery was Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford and Douglas Mitchell, the great-great-great-grandson of Ross.

“The significance of the discovery of the home site of my great-great-great-grandfather Ben Ross, and of a spellbinding assortment of artifacts that were once held in the hands of the man himself, but have since been long-inhumed in the soggy Dorchester County soil, is truly inestimable,” said Mitchell.

The home site will be highlighted on the historic Thompson Farm where Ross and his family were enslaved.

It will be officially added to the 125 mile Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a self-guided scenic drive that includes more than 30 sites related to Harriet Tubman’s life and legacy.

This story originally reported by Ryan Dickstein on WMAR2News.com.