She was born Araminta (Minty) Ross, March of 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland, she married John Tubman in 1844 and changed her first name to Harriet (her mother’s name). She was born enslaved and eventually escaped, using the Underground Railroad (an elaborate secret network of safe houses).
During her 54 years in Auburn, she raised twenty children she had brought home from the city’s children’s asylum. She also worked with the AME Zion Church to create the Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Negroes, which is considered the first nursing home in the U.S. for aging Black individuals.
Cayuga County invites you to explore the many sites in Auburn NY, that tell the story of an amazing hero and to celebrate Harriet Tubman’s life and legacy. Walk in Harriet’s shoes across the streets and the floors of the landmarks that welcomed her to live her life as a free woman. When she died in 1913, she was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery.
2022 marks the 200th birthday of Harriett Tubman, conductor of the underground railroad, Civil War Spy, First African American Women to serve in the military and strong supporter of the women’s rights movement. She believed in the equality of all people, black or white, male, or female and fought for her freedom and for that of others. Harriet Tubman took over 13 trips on the underground railroad and helped over 300 slaves to freedom. She once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass that she “never lost a single passenger.” That is why she is known as, “The Moses of her People”.
Start your journey at the NYS Equal Rights Center. The Center features a state-of-the-art exhibition titled “Seeing Equal Rights in NYS” where New York State’s history supporting equality comes to life through interactive displays. Admire the bronze statue of Harriet Tubman in the courtyard—a photograph opportunity not to be missed. Harriet Tubman National Historical Park rangers conduct “Hike Through the History of Harriet” tours, call for schedule and times.
Next visit The Seward House Museum. Harriet was good friends with the Seward’s. Walk the beautiful gardens and enjoy a guided tour. Be sure to visit the basement, which was used as an actual stop on the Underground Railroad.
A short walk from the Seward House will brings you to Westminster Presbyterian Church where Harriet Tubman married her second husband, Nelson Davis. It was an abolitionist congregation at that time – and today, has even wider doors, welcoming people of every race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, family, and economic status.
A 5-minute walk from the church is Fort Hill Cemetery. The grounds were formally dedicated in 1852. Originally a settlement of early indigenous people, the Alleghans, and later occupied by the Cayuga’s, this land was used for burial mounds as early as 1100 A.D. Located on West Lawn C is Harriet’s headstone, marked Harriet Tubman Davis across the front with a dedication on the back. William H. Seward and his family are also buried in this cemetery along with many other notable people. Maps of the cemetery are available at the entrances.
About one mile up South Street from the Heritage Center is the Harriet Tubman Home. The property is part of Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, a partnership park between the National Park Service and the Harriet Tubman Home, Inc. under the auspices of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Stop into the visitor’s center and walk through a timeline of Harriet’s incredible life’s journey while viewing artifacts from the time. At the same location, you can see the outside of Harriet’s house, take a tour of the Home for the Aged and be immersed and inspired with Harriet’s fascinating life story. The traveling statue “Harriet Tubman — The Journey to Freedom,” a 9-foot-tall work by sculptor Wesley Wofford, will be on display at the Harriet Tubman home, July -August 2022.
Visit the Tour Cayuga website to learn more about the special events and activities that will occur celebrating Harriet Tubman’s 200th Birthday.