A historic homesite once owned by the father of Harriet Tubman has been found in Dorchester County.
A team of archaeologists conducted research that led to the location of Ben Ross’s former home on property purchased last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an addition to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford said Tuesday that the discovery ‘adds another puzzle piece’ to the story of Harriet Tubman, abolitionist and conductor of The Underground Railroad.
Ben Ross was freed from slavery and received the land in the early 1840s, which was bequeathed to him by Anthony Thompson. Artifacts such as nails, brick pieces, glass and dish fragments and a button helped archaeologists determine the property’s significance.
“When we protect vulnerable habitats, we help preserve the stories of those who came before us, like Harriet Tubman’s father, Ben Ross,” USFWS Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System Cynthia Martinez said. “Acquiring Peter’s Neck last year was a critical addition to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, as the area is predicted to naturally convert to marsh by 2100 because of sea-level rise. We look forward to working with our partners to create more opportunities to connect people to nature and strengthen the bond between the land and community.”
“Discovering the location of patriarch Ben Ross Sr.’s home and artifacts he used has humanized a man responsible for giving us a woman of epic proportions, Harriet Ross Tubman,” Tina Wyatt, Harriet Tubman’s great-great-great-grandniece and Ben Ross’ great-great-great-great-granddaughter said. “This brings enlightenment, revealing how he lived his daily life making it a real-life connection to and for me, a great-great-great-great-granddaughter. The world benefits also from the study of these artifacts concerning objects used by the enslaved; are they common to this plantation, to his position, or to this region? It gives us so much more to explore, explain and exhibit.”
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