Harriet Tubman, who went by the nickname “Minty” or Araminta, was born on Anthony Thompson’s estate south of the modern-day Madison and Woolford in a place called Peter’s Neck in Dorchester County, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore.
Harriet “Rit” Green and Benjamin Ross, both slaves, had nine children together, with Tubman being the fifth child. Ben Ross was a wood inspector who was in charge of overseeing and managing Thompson’s substantial logging operations on the Eastern Shore.
For this work, he developed a solid reputation as a highly regarded and dependable bondsman. Over forty African Americans were held as slaves by successful farmer and businessman Thompson.
The social and familial environment in which Harriet Tubman and her family lived was made up of this slave group as well as the free and other enslaved black communities that supplied the white planters in the Peters Neck region with work.
Harriet Tubman grandchildren
It is thought that Tubman didn’t have any biological children of her own and that in 1874, when she was already in her middle age, she adopted a newborn girl named Gertie. Although Tubman’s adopted daughter passed away quite soon, she also assisted in raising her siblings’ offspring and grandkids.
Tubman was the sixth of Harriet “Rit” Green and Benjamin “Ben” Ross’ nine slave children to be born in Dorchester County, Maryland. She freed her parents, some of her siblings, her in-laws, and several nieces and nephews from the shackles of servitude. Thus, “Aunt Harriet” has a particular relationship with their descendants.
Because of her ties to her family, Wyatt is especially passionate about preserving Tubman’s place in the history of the country.
When her mother Soph, Tubman’s sister, was sold further south into slavery, her great-great grandmother Anne Marie Ross Stewart was still a baby. She was rescued from Eastern Shore Maryland and relocated to Canada.
Wyatt has campaigned for the establishment of a Harriet Tubman Day and the quick rollout of the Tubman $20 makeover. She most recently made an appearance during a New Year’s celebration this year at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington Cemetery, where 200 bells tolled to mark Harriet Tubman’s 200th birthday.
As a reward for her efforts in pressuring the United States Army Military Intelligence Corps to induct Tubman as a full member and not just an honorary one, which occurred in 2021, Wyatt was granted the honor of ringing the first bell.
Judith G. Bryant, an ancestor of Harriet Tubman from Auburn, New York, would rather that people make deeper connections rather than merely cling to the celebrity status of a heroic figure from the past.
Bryant now resides in the home that her great-grandfather William Henry Stewart, Jr., who was a brother of Tubman’s and one of the brothers she saved from the Eastern Shore of Maryland on Christmas Day in 1854, built.
After gaining their freedom, Tubman’s brothers adopted the Stewart last name and relocated from St. Catherines, Ontario, to Auburn, where Tubman and her family had settled after buying a home there in 1859. Bryant thus doesn’t consider Tubman to be a national icon, but rather just a regular family member.
The Butler family, who has homes in Schenectady, New York, and Boston, remembers that their elderly relatives kept quiet about the past and about Tubman. They are derived from James Stewart, another of Tubman’s brothers who was saved about Christmas 1854 (born Benjamin Ross, Jr.).
Since he just learned about “Aunt Harriet” as a teenager, her son Alan G. Butler, Sr., too wishes he had known about his relationship to Tubman at a younger age.
Wyatt reveals that her family didn’t discuss Tubman much either, which is interesting. Alyda Gaskin Stokes Chaffin, her grandmother, only vaguely recalled Tubman’s sudden dozing off episodes, which was one of the symptoms of her epileptic seizures.