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Arguably . . . .


Arguably the first historical landmark to a Black woman was the establishment of the Tubman Home for Aged and Infirm Negroes in Auburn, New York. In 1896, Harriet Tubman bought land to fulfill her vision of building a home for poor and elderly people. She doggedly solicited support and money, and in 1908 her namesake home was opened. The second landmark to a Black woman is the bronze plaque with a bas relief of Harriet Tubman based on an 1890s photograph. Erected by the citizens of Auburn and dedicated on June 12, 1914, the plaque is affixed on the right side of the entrance to the Cayuga County Courthouse. It reads: In memory of Harriet Tubman. Born a slave in Maryland about 1821. Died in Auburn, N.Y. March 10th, 1913. Called the "Moses" of her people during the Civil War. With rare courage, she led over three hundred negroes up from slavery to freedom and rendered invaluable service as nurse and spy.

With implicit trust in God she braved every danger and overcame every obstacle. Withal she possessed extraordinary foresight and judgement so that she truthfully said -

"On my underground railroad I nebber run my train off de track and I nebber los' a passenger."

Harriet Tubman, "General Tubman," is one of the women I wrote about in my book "Spies! Women in the Civil War." One of my research trips for that book took me to Auburn where I photographed the plaque. I also visited the Harriet Tubman Home, then a small museum, now part of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, and photographed her beautiful bed and clock provided by her friends, and her Bible. Unable to read herself, Tubman loved listening to friends read from the Bible. At her grave in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, I met a cemetery caretaker who told me that a small pine tree that was planted by Tubman's grave

was now the most majestic tree in the cemetery, a sign of Harriet Tubman's noble life.


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