Timeline of Harriet Tubman’s Life

The following is a timeline of events in Harriet Tubman’s life:

♦ In 1785-1790, Harriet Tubman’s parents, Harriet Green and Ben Ross, are born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland. Green is owned by Atthow Pattison and Ross is owned by Anthony Thompson.

♦ In 1797, Atthow Pattison dies and leaves Harriet Green to his granddaughter Mary Pattison.

♦ In 1800, Mary Pattison marries Joseph Brodess of Bucktown, Maryland.

♦ In 1801, Joseph Brodess, owner of Harriet Green dies. Harriet and four other slaves are inherited by his widow, Mary Brodess.

♦ Sometime around 1802, Joseph Brodess dies.

♦ In 1803, Mary Brodess marries Anthony Thompson, who owns a slave named Ben Ross.

♦ In 1808, Harriet Green and Ben Ross marry.

In 1810, Mary Brodess Thompson dies and Edward Brodess inherits ownership of Harriet Green and Ben Ross.

♦ Sometime around February or March of 1822, Araminta “Minty” Ross is born to Harriet Green and Ben Ross on Anthony Thompson’s plantation in Peters Neck in Dorchester County, Maryland.

♦ On March 2, 1824, after Edward Brodess marries Elizabeth Anne Keene he moves into her family home in Bucktown and brings Harriet and her children with them but leaves Ben Ross behind.

♦ Between 1828-1835, Araminta is hired out to various Dorchester County farms to work as a nursemaid and laborer.

♦ In 1834, Araminta suffers a serious head injury when an overseer throws a heavy weight at another slave and accidentally hits her instead.

♦ In 1836, Anthony Thompson dies.
♦ In 1836-1842, Araminta is hired out to John T. Steward of Madison, Maryland.

♦ In 1840, Ben Ross is legally freed through a provision in Anthony Thompson’s will.

♦ In 1844, Harriet Ross marries John Tubman, a free black man. Around the same time, she changes her first name to Harriet.

♦ In 1845, Harriet Tubman hires a lawyer to investigate her legal status as a slave and discovers that the will of her mother’s first master, Atthow Pattison, stipulated that her mother was to be freed when she turned 45 years old but had not been so.

♦ From 1847-1849, Harriet Tubman hires herself out to work on the property of Dr. Anthony Thompson, Anthony Thompson’s son, and splits her earnings with her owner.

♦ In March of 1849, Harriet Tubman’s owner, Edward Brodess dies, leaving his widow in debt.
♦ On September 17, 1849, Harriet Tubman escapes with her brothers, Harry and Ben, and heads north after hearing that she might be sold. Soon after, her brothers have second thoughts and the three return to the Brodess plantation.
♦ In October of 1849, Harriet Tubman escapes again by herself, using the Underground Railroad, and later reaches Philadelphia.
♦ On October 3, 1849, a notice is published in the Cambridge Democrat newspaper offering a reward for Harriet’s capture and return.

Reward Notice for Harriet Tubman, circa 1849

Reward Notice for Harriet Tubman, circa 1849

♦ In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 is passed.
♦ In December of 1850, Harriet Tubman makes her first rescue of relatives by helping her niece Kessiah and her children escape slavery.

♦ In the fall of 1851, Harriet Tubman makes a second trip on the Underground Railroad to try and convince her husband to join her in Philadelphia but finds he is remarried and wants to stay in Maryland.
♦ In December of 1851, Harriet Tubman guides a group of 11 fugitives north on the Underground Railroad and crosses the Canadian border for the first time.

♦ On December 25, 1854, Harriet Tubman helps two, possible three, of her brothers escape the Brodess plantation and guides them to Philadelphia and then to Ontario, Canada.

♦ On June 11, 1855, Ben Ross purchases his wife, Harriet Green, from Eliza Ann Brodess for $20. They continue to live in Maryland where they assist fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad.

♦ Sometime between May and July of 1857, Harriet Tubman rescues her parents from Caroline County, Maryland, when she learns her father is at risk of arrest for helping slaves to run away.

♦ In April of 1858, Harriet Tubman meets John Brown at her home on North Street in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

♦ In May of 1859, Harriet Tubman purchases a small plot of land in Auburn, NY from U.S. Senator William H. Seward. She builds a house on the land that becomes a haven for family and friends.

♦ On April 27, 1860, Harriet Tubman rescues Charles Nalle in Troy, New York, freeing him from the custody of US marshals who were trying to return him to Virginia under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

♦ In November of 1861, Harriet Tubman makes her last rescue with the Underground Railroad.

♦ In 1862, Harriet Tubman begins work as a cook, nurse, launderer, teacher scout, and spy for the United States Army stationed in the Hilton Head district of South Carolina.

♦ On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation is passed.
♦ In June of 1863, Harriet Tubman assists Union Colonel James Montgomery and his troops on raids of plantations along the Combahee River in South Carolina.
♦ In July of 1863, journalist Franklin Benjamin Sanborn publishes an article about Harriet Tubman in the Commonwealth newspaper in Boston, Ma. The article is a biographical outline of Tubman’s life.

Woodcut of Harriet Tubman during the Civil War

Woodcut of Harriet Tubman during the Civil War

♦ In 1865, Harriet Tubman is hired to provide nursing services to wounded soldiers at Fortress Monroe in Hampton, Virginia.
♦ In late 1865, Harriet Tubman returns to her home in Auburn, NY after the Civil War ends.

♦ In 1866, Harriet Tubman meets a black soldier named Charles Nelson Davis.
♦ On September 30, 1867, Harriet’s husband, John Tubman, is murdered by a white man named Robert Vince, in Cambridge, Maryland. Vince is acquitted by an all-white jury later that year.

♦ In 1869, Sarah Bradford’s book Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman is published.
♦ On March 18, 1869, Harriet Tubman marries Civil War veteran Charles Nelson Davis.

Harriet Tubman in 1870

Harriet Tubman in 1870

In 1871, Harriet’s father, Ben, dies.

♦ In October of 1873, Harriet Tubman is duped by con men who said they knew of the location of buried Confederate gold but when Harriet is taken to the location she is robbed, beaten and left bound and gagged in a field.

♦ In 1874, Harriet Tubman and her husband adopt a baby girl named Gertie.

♦ In 1879, Harriet’s mother, Harriet Green, dies.

♦ In 1880, Harriet Tubman’s home burns down in a fire. She rebuilds it after receiving help from the community.

♦ In 1886, Sarah Bradford’s second biography of Harriet Tubman, titled Harriet, the Moses of Her People is published.

♦ On October 18, 1888, Charles Nelson Davis dies of tuberculosis and is buried at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, NY.

♦ In 1892, Harriet Tubman is awarded a widow’s pension of $8 a month.

♦ In 1896, Harriet Tubman attends a local auction and successfully bids on a twenty-five-acre property near her house in Auburn, NY, with plans to build a home for elderly and sick African Americans.

♦ In 1897, a petition was made for Tubman to receive a soldier’s pension for her war service, which she received.
♦ Also in 1897, the New England Women’s Suffrage Association honors Harriet Tubman for her charitable work.

♦ In 1898, Harriet Tubman has brain surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to alleviate seizures and headaches stemming for her previous head injury.

♦ In 1903, Harriet Tubman donates her twenty-five-acre property to her church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, on the condition that they build a home for aging African Americans.

♦ In 1904, Susan B. Anthony introduces Harriet Tubman as a “living legend” at the 28th Annual Convention of the New York State Women’s Suffrage Association.

♦ On June 23, 1908, Harriet’s church opens the Harriet Tubman nursing home on the property she donated in Auburn, NY.

♦ In 1910, Harriet Tubman’s health begins to fail and she loses use of her legs.

♦ In 1911, Harriet Tubman’s health continues to decline and she moves into the Harriet Tubman home.

Harriet Tubman in 1911

Harriet Tubman in 1911

♦ On March 10, 1913, Harriet Tubman dies of pneumonia.
♦ On March 13, 1913, Harriet Tubman is buried with military honors next to her brother at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, NY.

Conrad, Earl. “Harriet Tubman.” Harriet Tubman, www.harriettubman.com/tubman2.html
Humez, Jean M. Harriet Tubman: The Life and The Life Stories. University of Wisconsin Press, 2003.
Larson, Kate Clifford. “Harriet Tubman Chronology.” Maryland.gov, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/eastern/tubmantimeline.aspx
McGowan, James A. and William C. Kashatus. Harriet Tubman: A Biography. Greenwood Press, 2011.
Stodghill, Ron. “Harriet Tubman’s Path to Freedom.” New York Times, 24 Feb. 2017, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/02/24/travel/underground-railroad-slavery-harriet-tubman-byway-maryland.html

Timeline of Harriet Tubman's Life
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