Harriet Tubman

c. 1820 – March 10, 1913

Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist and activist who became one of the most famous freer of enslaved people in the 19th Century United States. Her life and legacy made her a true American icon.

Born into slavery in Maryland as Araminta Ross around the year 1820 (the birth year on her grave marker), “Minty” – as she was known – endured all of the hardships that accompanied slaves at the time. Several of her siblings were sold away, she was routinely whipped and – in one instance – was severely injured when an overseer hit her in the head with a heavy metal object. This injury caused life-long issues for her and led to visions and dreams…which she would later claim were revelations from God.

After witnessing her mother stand up to their owners when they tried to sell her younger brother, Minty started to realize that resistance to her situation was possible. This, coupled with her continuing visions led her to a turning point. In 1849, she escaped to Pennsylvania via the Underground Railroad, a secret system of abolitionist homes and other locations that ushered slaves to freedom. In the 11 years that followed, Harriet (as she was now calling herself, in honor of her mother) made more than a dozen trips back to Maryland to aid family members and other enslaved people to their own freedom.

When the Civil War started, Harriet served as a scout and a nurse for the Union army. She felt that a Union victory would be instrumental in abolishing slavery for good. Throughout her service in the war, she helped secure the rescue of more than 700 enslaved people from the Confederacy.

Harriet ultimately settled down in Auburn, New York where she married for a second time. She became involved in the women’s suffrage movement and founded a home for elderly African Americans. By 1911, due to failing health, she herself checked into the facility. Harriet Tubman died two years later. While she was already a notable public figure in life, following her death, she became the legendary historical figure that we know today.


Fort Hill Cemetery – Auburn, NY

Specific Location

West Lawn, C-17; From the main entrance at the north end of the cemetery, enter and stay to the right all the way to the back. When you reach the last left turn take it and Harriet’s grave will be on your left under a very large tree out toward the middle of the West Lawn section.


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