The final stop on our summer vacation last year was to the Harriet Tubman Home. You are probably familiar with the heroics of arguably the country’s leading abolitionist. But the house, and its use, is an interesting story too.
“In 1858 New York Senator William Seward” – the future US Secretary of State who helped the US buy Alaska from the Russians in 1867 – “made Harriet Tubman a proposition. He would sell her his property in Auburn, NY for a reasonable price and flexible terms.” This transaction was technically illegal.
“Auburn had a strong abolitionist group and Seward was a well known supporter of the Underground Railroad who Harriet could depend on for funds and shelter for her people.
“Before the Civil War about 500 slaves passed through Auburn on their way north. Tubman knew Senator Seward well as she had used his house as a station many times. She was encouraged to move to Auburn [from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada] by a long time friend and supporter, Lucretia Mott.
“In 1886 her house was destroyed by fire, none were hurt. Nelson Davis, Tubman’s second husband, was a brick maker and helped rebuild her house. He replaced the original wood structure with brick, making it stronger and longer lasting.
“In order to fulfill her dream to build a home for the elderly Tubman purchased additional land. In 1896 Tubman bought at auction 25 acres of land adjacent to her property located at 182 South Street. The land was sold for $1,450. The AME Zion Church raised funds and with the support of a local bank providing a mortgage Tubman was able to complete the transaction.”
We agree with most of the folk on Trip Advisor, that “The best part of the experience was the gentleman that provided the overview of Harriet Tubman’s life and conducted the tour. He was so very well informed and you could tell truly enjoys what he does in sharing her life with everyone that visits. The tour of the home was good; however, his presentation made this terrific.”