Arthur Shippee, Len Augsburger, Pablo Hoffman, Anne E. Bentley
and others forwarded this story about the discovery of a coin near a site believed to be the onetime home of abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Thanks, everyone. The article doesn't state the denomination, but it must be a half dollar. Has anyone tried to determine the obverse die?
Archaeologist Julie Schablitsky found the coin with her metal detector along an old, abandoned road in an isolated area of Maryland's Eastern Shore. She dug it out of the ground and scraped off the mud.
She hadn't been finding much as she and her team probed the swampy terrain of Dorchester County last fall searching for the lost site where the famous Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman lived with her family in the early 1800s.
She'd been frustrated that there had been no hint that she was anywhere near the home of Tubman's father, Ben Ross. But as she cleaned the coin, the profile of a woman with flowing hair, and wearing a cap that said, "Liberty," emerged. At the bottom was the date: 1808.
Tuesday morning state and federal officials announced that Schablitsky, guided in part by the coin, believes she has found the site where Tubman lived with her parents and several siblings during her formative teenage years before she escaped enslavement.
It was the spot, experts said, where a long-vanished cabin stood, which had served for a time as Tubman's family home.
The structure, of unknown form, was owned by her father. A timber foreman and lumberjack who had been enslaved, he had been given his freedom, the house where he lived and a piece of land near the Blackwater River by his enslaver.
Officials said bricks, datable pieces of 19th-century pottery, a button, a drawer pull, a pipe stem, old records and the location all pointed to the spot being the likely site of the Ben Ross cabin.
The announcement was made at 10 a.m. at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, in Church Creek, Md.
The find is a crucial piece of Tubman's story, experts said. And it illuminates the role that her father, and her family, played in her development into the fearless Underground Railroad conductor that she became.
The coin was found about a quarter-mile from where the cabin would eventually be located, she said. But it "told us that we were on the right path, that we were getting closer."
A few other artifacts were found at the end of the dig and the team decided to return this March for a more thorough examination.
Last month, as they dug further, more artifacts began to appear — chunks of brick, rusty nails, bits of ceramics with designs patterns that could be dated, she said. Many patterns dated to the "1820s, 1830s, 1840s time period," she said.
"That's when we had our … moment," she said. "That's when we knew that this is it. Because it couldn't be anywhere else. There was nothing else … that dated to that time period."
The combination of records, location and artifacts finally added up, she said. "It's not just one artifact that tells us we have something. It's the assemblage. It's the multiple pieces."
To read the complete articles, see:
Harriet Tubman's lost Maryland home found, archaeologists say
Site of Harriet Tubman's father's home found by archaeologists in Maryland
Archeologists Discover Original Home Of Harriet Tubman On Maryland's Eastern Shore
Wayne Homren, Editor
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