Archaeologists in Maryland are looking for the childhood home of American hero Harriet Tubman.
Tubman led dozens of enslaved people to safety via the Underground Railroad. Dr. Julie Schablitsky told Inside Edition Digital that she thinks her team is getting close to locating the site of a cabin owned by Tubman’s father, Ben Ross, and it could be in a swamp.
The Ross cabin is believed to be somewhere in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
“It's never too late or necessarily too early to begin to look for pieces of our past,” Schablitsky told Inside Edition Digital. “So we have a crew of about a dozen people, and we simply walk through and slog through this wetland with our rubber boots on digging holes, which are very, very wet looking for any evidence of people who have lived there over 200 years ago.”
Tubman was born Araminta Ross and as the leader of the Underground Railroad, she led dozens of enslaved people to freedom in the North. Her story has become the stuff of legends, which in part why Schablitsky said trying to find the remains of her home was so important.
“We know some and a little bit about Harriet Tubman, but we don't know that much about her family. Where did she come from? What was her life like there? What's it like to grow up in this sort of environment?” she said. “And I can tell you right now after excavating and walking through this very wet and isolated place of Maryland, that is indeed the place where she was able to really hone her skills on how to navigate North to freedom using the Underground Railroad.”
Experts say though that trying to find Ben Ross's cabin in the middle of swamp land is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. However, some clues from the era still remain in the area, which have helped put the puzzle together.
“Along the road, we're finding things that are definitely telling us we're in the right time period. Here we have an 1808 50 cent piece. And this was amazing to find because it's in such good shape,” Schablitsky said. “So these little artifacts are, again, in a way are breadcrumbs telling us that we're getting closer and closer.”
Historian Herschel Johnson joined the team to help find Tubman’s home and stressed the importance of finding this key to our American past.
“I can't remember the first time I heard about Harriet Tubman, but it wasn't taught in the school system. For one thing, I guess Harriet was a villain because she took people to freedom, so she was said to be a thief. And so it wasn't taught to us in our school system,” Johnson said. “We as African Americans need to know our history, because our history is so important.