Conductor on the Underground Railroad, military leader, suffragist, and descendant of the Ashanti ethnic group in Ghana, Harriet Tubman is an American hero. The sacrifices she made to save her family and friends from slavery continue to inspire others today.
Enslaved Families in Dorchester County
During her years in slavery, Harriet Tubman resisted. In the Bucktown Village Store, she refused to help an overseer stop a freedom seeker (runaway slave). The overseer threw a two pound weight at the enslaved man, but it hit Tubman in the head instead, almost killing her. This blow to the head caused Tubman to have sleeping spells (epilepsy) her entire life. Her mother did the best she could to nurse her daughter back to health, but again, Tubman was taken from her mother and forced back to work. Despite continuous separation, Harriet Tubman found ways to spend time with her family. Tubman hired herself out and worked in the timber fields with her father at Stewart’s Canal in Parson’s Creek, cutting and logging wood down the canal.
Harriet Tubman worked in the marshlands (swamps) on the Eastern Shore of Maryland as an enslaved child into adulthood which gave her the skills to navigate the marshlands and gain her freedom. Other skills Tubman gained to navigate the landscape came from African American mariners (sailors) working in the timber fields at Parson’s Creek. African American sailors had more mobility than free and enslaved people. They transported goods on their ships to Baltimore, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. These sailors provided a network of communication on the Underground Railroad for Tubman and other freedom seekers.
During her time working in the marshlands at Parson’s Creek she married her first husband, John Tubman, who was a free man. She changed her name from Araminta Ross to Harriet Tubman, perhaps in honor of her mother. In Dorchester County, free and enslaved African Americans lived and worked in the same community. Some enslaved men and women married free African Americans. Free African Americans provided freedom seekers information on the location of safe houses and routes on the Underground Railroad.
Escape from Slavery
Life in Auburn, New York
Last updated: February 13, 2019