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Underground Railroad Research Forum

Re: Ancestors of Harriet Tubman

There are many black and white Greene's (Green's) throughout the Eastern Shore, Baltimore, Anne Arundle region during the antebellum period. I have no idea if your Henry Greene, born circa 1830, is related to Harriet Tubman's mother Harriet "Rit" Greene Ross. Araminta was not an uncommon name for blacks or whites during the 17th (mostly white women) through the 19th (both black and white women) centuries. Kessiah, Keziah, Kesiah, was about as common as Araminta, both being old Puritan/Christian names. Ross as a surname was quite widespread throughout the Eastern Shore, too. As for Cape May, NJ, I do know that there was some UGRR activity in that area - some people came by way of Lewes, DE, others by boat from elsewhere south. The trip across Delaware Bay was treacherous, and not taken lightly by those attempting to cross on their own in a small boat. Black migration to New Jersey from the Eastern Shore of Maryland escalated dramatically after the Civil War when job opportunities offered a better life there. Cape May was a resort town that catered to families from Philadelphia and New York, etc., and offered good job opportunities in the summer time (Tubman apparently worked there herself during the summers of 1851-1852). Fugitives were not generally safe there, however, especially after 1850.

We know virtually nothing of Rit Greene Ross's heritage, other than her mother, Modesty, was brought from Africa as a child prior to the American Revolution. The Rev. Samuel Green was a free black farmer and sometimes minister from East New Market in Dorchester County who was an Underground Railroad agent. He helped Tubman and many others escape. We do not know much about his heritage, and do not know if he was related to Tubman's mother Rit. He was arrested in April 1857 under suspicion of aiding in some slave escapes, but was acquitted. He was promptly arrested again, tried and convicted for owning a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin, then considered abolitionist material. He was sentenced to ten years in the MD State prison. He was pardoned in 1864.

Hope this helps in your search.
Best,
Kate Larson

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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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