Archaeologists in Maryland are digging in Dorchester County for what they believe might be the home of Harriet Tubman’s father.
Maryland’s State Highway Administration said in a statement Tuesday that archaeologists in the administration are searching an area southwest of Cambridge, on land that’s part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
They’re hoping to include the home in the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a 125-mile drive with more than 30 sites related to Tubman’s life.
“Finding Harriet Tubman’s father’s home would be an amazing discovery,” Dr. Julie Schablitsky, the highway administration’s chief archaeologist, said in the statement. “Being able to add a new chapter to her life through archaeology and share it with the traveling public is an honor.”
Tubman (born Araminta Ross) was born enslaved to Ben Ross and Harriet Green in 1822. Ross was eventually freed, but Tubman and her mother were enslaved on a different farm. She escaped, and made multiple runs back into slave territory to help enslaved people escape through a network of helpers and safe houses called the Underground Railroad.
Tubman also worked as a scout and a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War.
She lived in Ross’s house around 1840, the statement said.
“Any artifacts the archaeologists find will mean so much to the community,” local African-American historian Hershel Johnson said in the statement. “Even if they can’t establish where Ben Ross’s house is, any insight into how Harriet lived will be invaluable in understanding the history that led to her involvement with the Underground Railroad.”