Harriet Tubman Davis

Burial Location Visited
Auburn, New York April 17, 2010


The grave of Harriet Tubman, the                                              We had trouble finding Tubman's burial
most famous "conductor" of the                                                 site, but a nice passerby was able to lead
Underground Railroad.                                                              us right to it.


Later in her life, Tubman became active in                                  One of Tubman's nicknames was "Moses."
the fight for women's suffrage.                                                  She was called that because of all of the
                                                                                              slaves she led to freedom via the
                                                                                              Underground Railroad.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Araminta Ross, known to most of the world as Harriet Tubman, was the fifth of eleven children born to a slave couple in Eastern Maryland. Called "Minty" by those closest to her, the young slave girl's family was hardly united. Her father toiled on a separate plantation, and some of her many siblings were sold to other slave holders deeper south. In her childhood, she was frequently lent out by her owner to work for other families. While with one family, she was put in charge of caring for a young baby. Whenever the infant woke up and cried, Minty was severely whipped and punished. Eventually, when she was deemed old enough, she began work as a field hand. The most notable event of her youth was the time she sustained her famous head injury. Sent to a general store to purchase supplies, she found herself watching an argument between an overseer and a subordinate slave. When the captive set off running, Minty blocked the doorway to aid him. The overseer picked up a heavy weight of iron and threw it at the escapee, but it fell short and struck Minty in the head. The result was a lifetime of headaches, seizures, and sudden tiredness which would cause Minty to fall asleep, all of which could occur at any time. Following the incident, she also claimed to have prophetic visions, which she always regarded as messages from God.

* In about 1844, Minty married John Tubman, a free black man. Taking his last name, she also decided to shed her childhood nickname. She chose to be called Harriet, which was her mother's name. However, as she was still a slave, there was a chance that she and her husband could be split up if she was sold by her master. In order to eliminate this possibility, Tubman wished to flee to the North with John. However, unexpectedly, there was a certain obstacle in her path. Her husband did not want Harriet to escape and vowed to tell her master if she attempted to do so. All the same, in 1849, she set off for freedom, though without her spouse. Using the Underground Railroad, she was able to escape the bondage of slavery. Upon her arrival in the North, Tubman gazed at her hands "to see if I was de same person."

* However, Tubman was destined to return to the land where she had been enslaved. Feeling that her family and friends deserved to taste freedom as well, she journeyed back to Maryland in December of 1850. Having received word that her sister and her sister's children were about to be sold into the deep South, Tubman rescued them and brought them North by using the Underground Railroad. She did not stop there, and continued to make treks to Maryland in order to rescue "her people". On her second trip, she rescued more slaves, including her brother James. Once, she even went to bring her free husband to the North, but had found that he had taken another wife. Undeterred, she brought other African Americans North instead. This was particularly dangerous work, as Tubman and any of the captives she rescued from slavery could be brought back to the South by Northerners and bounty hunters, courtesy of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Because of this, Tubman brought most of her followers to Canada, where slavery had been outlawed. Tubman was sure to carry a gun whenever she made a rescue mission, and threatened to kill any one of the slaves following her who was having second thoughts, fearing that his/her return would threaten the entire group. Making 19 journeys in totality between 1850 and 1860, she rescued approximately 300 slaves, using the North Star as her guiding light.

* When she wasn't leading enslaved African Americans to freedom, Tubman was aiding the abolitionist cause in other ways. She helped John Brown plan his unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, and helped the Union by serving as a nurse during the Civil War. Tubman also led a group of black spies and served as one herself during the war, which was a great help to the North. She was instrumental in the success of the raid at Combahee Ferry in 1863, in which hundreds of slaves were freed. In 1868, abolitionist Frederick Douglass wrote to Tubman and told her that, with the possible exception of John Brown, "I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than you have."

* After the Civil War, Tubman returned to her home in Auburn, New York, which was located on land she had acquired from politician William Seward in 1859. Though she was living in poverty, friends and supporters raised funds so that Tubman could sustain herself. The revenue brought in from biographies written about Tubman by admirers went toward supporting her and her family, who was living with the famed woman in her Auburn home. All the same, she continued to have money woes for the remainder of her life. In 1869, she remarried to Nelson Davis, a Civil War veteran who was working as a bricklayer in Auburn. She dedicated herself to establishing schools for African Americans, who were now free, and became friends with Susan B. Anthony when she started advocating for women's rights. In 1908, the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged was opened on a piece of land that Tubman herself had donated five years prior with the intent of creating a place for aged and debilitated blacks to live. That is where she was staying when she succumbed to pneumonia on March 10, 1913. In respect for her services during the Civil War, she was buried with full military honors.

Spouse: John Tubman (      -1867)
              Nelson Davis (1830-1888)

Last Words:
 "I go to prepare a place for you."

* Due to poor record keeping, no one knows when Harriet Tubman was born. Her grave stone states that she was born around 1820, but that date is not definite. Tubman claimed several other years as her birth year over time, including 1822 and 1825.
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