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Underground Railroad Research Forum

Re: Ancestors of Harriet Tubman
In Response To: Ancestors of Harriet Tubman ()

While working on my biography of Harriet Tubman over the past few years, I have documented many of Harriet Tubman's family members. My biography, "Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero," (due out in December) reveals the identites of Tubman's siblings, nieces and nephews, etc., and will have a family tree to visually present these relationships. In brief, however, Tubman's mother's name was Harriet, or "Rit" Greene, her father was Ben Ross. Rit's mother's name was Modesty, and it is assumed that she was brought directly from Africa. Ben adn Rit were enslaved by different masters. Tubman had 8 siblings, and they are as follows:

Linah, born @ 1808; Mariah Ritty, @ 1811; Soph, @ 1813; Robert, @ 1816; Ben @ 1824; Rachel, @1825; Henry, @ 1830; and Moses, @ 1832. Harriet Tubman was probably born in late February or early March, 1822. This is based on a record for the payment to a midwife on March 15, 1822, to help Rit Green give birth. Two other documents support the conclusion that Tubman was born during this period. She was born in the Harrisville Area, south of Madison and Woolford in Dorchester County, not in Bucktown. She moved there later with her enslaver, Edward Brodess, while her father remained in the Harrisville area, where Tubman and her siblings' maintained strong familial and social relationships.

Linah, Mariah Ritty, and Soph were all sold before Tubman ran away in 1849. Linah, I believe, left behind two children, Kessiah and Harriet. Kessiah, and Kessiah's own two children, were the first people Tubman helped rescue, in 1850, with the help of Kessiah's free husband, John Bowley. They successfully made it to Canada. Young Harriet (daughter of Linah) was sold twice after Tubman ran away, and eventually was separated from her two children, Mary Ann and Sarah, and sent to Texas. Tubman's brother Moses ran away after Tubman did, but what happened to him is a mystery. Her three other brothers escaped with Tubman's help on Christmas Day, 1854. When they went through William Still's office in Philadelphia on December 29, 1854, they changed their last name from Ross to Stewart. Robert became John Stewart, Ben became James Stewart, and Henry became William Henry Stewart. All of them left families behind. Henry's wife, Harriet Ann, did join him in Canada with their son William Henry, Jr., and possibly another, John Isaac, at a later date. Robert's wife, Mary Manokey, and their three children, John, Moses, and Harriet, were unable to break free, and remained enslaved on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Ben, it appears, left behind at least two free children, Ben and David Ross. Their mother (unidentitifed) must have died becasue they were soon indentured to a local white farmer. The Ben Ross in Dorchester County in 1870 may be this boy. Harriet Tubman's sister, Rachel, also had two children, Ben and Angerine (algerine). Tubman spent ten years trying to bring them away, but was unsuccessful. Rachel died in 1859. I do not know the name of the father of the children, Ben and Angerine, nor what happened to them after 1860. Tubman's parents, Ben and Rit, were free (Ben received his freedom in 1840, and he purchased Rit from the Brodesses sometime during 1855)when she brought them North in June 1857.

The John Tubman, 60, in 1860 is probably related to Harriet Tubman's husband, John Tubman, who, after Harriet ran away, married another woman, a free black named Caroline. They had three children together. He was murdered in Seotember, 1867 by a white man, Robert Vincent, in Dorchester County.

Sid Taylor is descended from Martin Ross (or March Ross) who we believe was Ben Ross, Sr., brother. He has a great detailed family tree. March Ross was enslaved by several different owners in Dorchester County. It appears that many of his descendants stayed in the county, particularly the East New Market area.

Best regards,
Kate Larson

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Ancestors of Harriet Tubman
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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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