Harriet Tubman Chronology

From "Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero - Bound for The Promised Land"
By Kate Clifford Larson

  • 1785-1790: Harriet Tubman’s parents, Ben Ross and Harriet “Rit” Green, are born in Dorchester County, Maryland. Both are enslaved but by different masters. Ben is owned by Anthony Thompson; Rit is enslaved by Atthow Pattison.
  • 1797: Atthow Pattison dies and leaves Rit to his granddaughter Mary Pattison.
  • 1800: Mary Pattison marries Joseph Brodess of Bucktown, Maryland.
  • 1801: Edward Brodess is born to Mary and Joseph Brodess.
  • 1802: Joseph Brodess probably dies this year.
  • 1803: Mary Pattison Brodess marries widower Anthony Thompson of Madison, bringing Rit and Ben into the same slave community.
  • 1808: Ben and Rit marry about this time.
  • 1810: Mary Pattison Brodess Thompson probably dies during this year, leaving young Edward under the guardianship of his stepfather, Anthony Thompson.
  • 1822: Araminta “Minty” Ross, later known as Harriet Tubman, is born, probably in February or early March on Anthony Thompson’s plantation in the Peters Neck District, south of Madison, near the Blackwater River.
  • 1823-1824: Edward Brodess moves to his ancestral property on Greenbriar Road in Bucktown. He marries Eliza Ann Keene in March 1824. They have eight children over the next twenty years.
  • 1828-1835: Young Minty is hired out by Brodess to various other masters, some cruel and negligent. She is nearly killed when a dry goods store weight is thrown at her head.
  • 1836: Anthony Thompson dies.
  • 1836-1842: Minty is hired out to John T. Stewart of Madison.
  • 1840: Ben Ross is given his freedom through a provision in Anthony Thompson’s will.
  • 1844: Minty probably marries freeman John Tubman in this year. She takes the name Harriet at this time.
  • 1847-1849: Harriet Tubman hires herself out to Dr. Anthony C. Thompson, Anthony Thompson’s son, who lives in both Poplar Neck and Cambridge.
  • 1849: Edward Brodess dies in March, leaving his widow Eliza encumbered with debt. Harriet Tubman runs away from slavery sometime during the late fall after hearing she might be sold.
  • 1850: Fugitive Slave Act is passed. Tubman conducts her first rescue mission by helping her niece, Kessiah, and Kessiah’s two children escape.
  • 1851-1852: Tubman assists several other individuals escape enslavement on the Eastern Shore, including her brother Moses. Returning in the fall of 1851 to bring her husband, John, to Philadelphia with her, he refuses to go. He has remarried and moved on with his life. She rescues several others instead.
  • 1854: Tubman finally succeeds in rescuing her three other brothers on Christmas Day, bringing them to freedom in Philadelphia and then St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. By now Harriet has attracted the attention of abolitionists and Underground Railroad operators Thomas Garrett, William Still, Lucretia Mott, and others.
  • 1855-1860: Tubman makes several more trips to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, trying to bring away her sister and her sister’s children. Through she was unsuccessful, she did bring away other friends and relatives, many of whom settled in Canada. Altogether, Tubman brought to freedom about seventy individuals in approximately thirteen trips.
  • 1857: Tubman brings away her aged parents from Caroline County, Maryland, when she learns her father is at risk of arrest for aiding slaves to run away.
  • 1858: Harriet Tubman meets John Brown at her home on North Street in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
  • 1859: John Brown’s Virginia raid ends in failure in October. Tubman purchases a home and seven acres of land from William H. Seward, President Lincoln’s future secretary of state, in Fleming, New York, in May. It is during this year that Tubman becomes more publicly active, particularly in Boston where she gives many lectures as a heroic Underground Railroad operator. Tubman's sister Rachel dies before she can be rescued.
  • 1860: Tubman is involved in the dramatic rescue of fugitive slave Charles Nalle in Troy, New York, freeing him from the custody of US marshals charged with returning him to his Virginia enslaver under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
  • 1861: The Civil War starts with the firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, in April.
  • 1862-1865: Tubman begins her work as a cook, nurse, launderer, teacher scout, and spy for the United States Army stationed in the Hilton Head district of South Carolina.
  • 1863: Under the command of Colonel James Montgomery, Tubman becomes the first woman to lead an armed raid. On June 2, she leads Montgomery’s forces up the Combahee River, where they rout rebel forces, free over 70 slaves, and burn buildings, crops, and stockpiles of munitions and food.
  • 1865: The Civil War ends, and President Lincoln is assassinated in April. Tubman is hired to provide nursing services to wounded soldiers at Fortress Monroe in Hampton, Virginia. On her way home to New York, she is violently thrown from a passenger train by a racist conductor, and is severely injured.
  • 1867: John Tubman dies.
  • 1869: Sarah Bradford publishes her first biography called, Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman. Tubman marries Nelson Davis at Central Presbyterian Church in Auburn.
  • 1871: Ben Ross, Tubman’s father, probably dies this year.
  • 1873: Tubman is involved in a mysterious “Gold Swindle.”
  • 1874: Tubman and her husband adopt a baby girl named Gertie.
  • 1879: Rit dies. Tubman continues to farm her seven-acre property and run a small brick-making business with Davis.
  • 1880: Tubman's home burns. She rebuilds it with help from the community, using bricks made in her own brickyard.
  • 1886: Sarah Bradford publishes her second biography of Tubman, Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People.
  • 1888: Nelson Davis dies of tuberculosis.
  • 1890s: Tubman becomes more actively involved in the suffrage movement, attending both black and white suffrage conventions.
  • 1896: Tubman purchases the twenty-five-acre parcel next to her property to establish a home and hospital for indigent, aged, and sick African Americans.
  • 1903: Tubman transfers ownership of the twenty-five-acre property to the AME Zion Church.
  • 1908: The Harriet Tubman Home is opened by the AME Zion Church.
  • 1913: Tubman dies on March 10 and is buried next to her brother at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York.

Back to Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park Homepage