Malone group

Members of the Harrisville-Malone Cemetery Maintenance Fund also posted information about their organization at the “Ties that Bind” marker along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway at Malone’s Church in Madison. A number of Harriet Ross Tubman’s relatives worshiped at this church and are buried in the adjacent cemetery.

MADISON — Although it was a cold and rainy day Friday, Dec. 6, several people spoke of the warmth of community Harriet Tubman experienced here more than 150 years ago during the dedication of one of 17 new historical markers being installed along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway through Dorchester and Caroline counties.

The marker is located at Malone Methodist Episcopal Church along White Marsh Road, which ends at property where Tubman was born in 1822, when it was the plantation of Anthony Thompson, who had owned Tubman’s father, Ben Ross.

“Ties that Bind” is the theme of the marker, one of seven installed in Dorchester County. It says Tubman lived here as a very young child, before moving with her mother to the plantation of Henry Brodas in Bucktown.

Harriet returned to the Harrisville area as a young woman, according to the marker, marrying John Tubman, a free black man, here around 1844. The marker reads, in part, “In this place she felt the nurturing bonds of family, faith and community.

Other new markers have been installed at locations in Dorchester including Long Wharf Park and the Stanley Institute. In Caroline County, 10 new markers have been installed at sites including Choptank Landing in Preston, near the later home of Tubman’s parents; at the residence of Jacob and Hannah Leverton, Quakers who operated a safe house and at Linchester Mill.

An audio guide, companion map and interpretive booklet are also available for self-guided tours along the byway. For more information, visit the website HarrietTubmanByway.org.

“These signs are important to the visitor experience,” said Amanda Fenstermaker, director of Dorchester County Tourism. “They share powerful stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. By piquing the interest of our visitors, the experience can lead to longer stays and time to enjoy the area’s lodging, restaurants and other visitor-related bsuinesses.”

There is also information about the Harrisville-Malone Cemetery Maintenance Fund, a group working to preserve the history and heritage of the area, with an emphasis on Malone ME Church.

“This property is an important part of the history of our community,” said Renna McKinney, president of the organization, which is seeking grant funds to preserve the church. “It is deteriorating rapidly.”

The current church was built in 1893, though another building preceded it, with an 1877 map of Dorchestger County showing both a church and school at the site. The adjacent cemetery was used as early as 1830, McKinney said, with many members of the Ross, Tubman and other families related to Harriet Tubman buried here, including the graves of five African-Americans who served in the Civil War as well as the graves of many people who were enslaved at the time of their deaths.

Among the speakers at Friday’s ceremony were John Creighton and Pat Lewis, historical researchers now working to find more about the history of Malone Church.

Malone Church is named for Jeremiah Malone, a free black man who deeded the property to the Malone congregation in 1864. Malone had been enslaved, initially by Thomas Jones and then by his son, James Jones, who gave Malone to Reuben Tall, who freed Malone in 1836, Lewis said.

Among the five trustees who signed the deed for the church property was David Linthicum, Creighton said, explaining one of the community’s many connections to Tubman.

Creighton said Linthicum was married to Harriet Bowley, the sister of John Bowley, a free black man who was married to Tubman’s niece, Kessiah, who Tubman helped find freedom in 1850 in one of the best-known stories of escaping slavery in Dorchester County.

Kessiah Bowley and her two children, including an infant daughter named Arminta, the name Harriet was given at birth, were auctioned at the Dorchester County Courthouse in Cambridge in 1850, during an era of economic depression which caused many people to sell their slaves.

John Bowley was able to bid on his wife and children and secured the top bid, then hid his family in a safe house in Cambridge before escaping by log canoe that evening and sailing to Baltimore. Tubman journeyed back to Maryland to Baltimore to lead the family to freedom in Philadelphia. They eventually settled in Canada.

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