Related video above: Harriet Tubman state park exceeds expectations
Archaeologists are working on a property in Maryland that historians believe may have been the home of Harriet Tubman's father.
The property, part of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is thought to have once been home to the Underground Railroad "conductor" and her family, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration.
"Finding Harriet Tubman's father's home would be an amazing discovery," Julie Schablitsky, chief archaeologist with Maryland's highway association, said in a statement. "Being able to add a new chapter to her life through archaeology and share it with the traveling public is an honor."
The archaeologists are searching an area southwest of the city of Cambridge in hopes of discovering the location of the home for possible inclusion in the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, an existing 125-mile, self-guided scenic drive that includes more than 30 sites related to the life of Harriet Tubman.
During COVID-19 pandemic, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday by reservation only.
Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland, on the Thompson Farm around 1822. Eventually, she and her mother were enslaved by the Brodess family but her father, Ben Ross, continued to live on the Thompson Farm until 1846. Ross cut timber on the plantation, much of it for the Baltimore shipyards, and was provided a home and 10 acres around the mid-1830s. Harriet Tubman lived at his home around 1840.
"Any artifacts the archaeologists find will mean so much to the community," local African American historian and community member Hershel Johnson said in a statement. "Even if they can't establish where Ben Ross' house is, any insight into how Harriet lived will be invaluable in understanding the history that led to her involvement with the Underground Railroad."
Dorchester County is known as "Harriet Tubman Country." Over the next two weeks, archaeologists will dig and document everything they can to explore, promote and share the history of African Americans and their heroic stories of survival.
In October, a team of archaeologists from the Maryland Department of Transportation and St. Mary's College unearthed what they believe is more than 300-year-old slave quarters in Southern Maryland.
A tiny log cabin in Hagerstown is at the center of a major archaeology dig that came to light in September. Historians and archaeologists figured out the cabin, which was slated for demolition, had major ties to the history of African Americans in Western Maryland.
In 2014, the archaeological find in Anne Arundel County provided a look at life 200 years ago.