Skip to content

Thanksgiving Meal Inspiration from Harriet Tubman’s Direct Descendant

By: Brittany Lynn, Break the Ice Media

As the holidays approach, the pace of the everyday routine slows so that we don’t miss the magic of the season ahead. It becomes an appropriate time for personal reflection as we move into the final weeks of the year; we gather with loved ones and reconnect over a meal prepared with love; and we tune in to the things we hold most dear and show gratitude.

Cayuga County is honored to be Harriet Tubman’s chosen hometown, and we are always grateful to be tied to such an important, historic legacy. Ms. Tubman’s direct descendants continue walking in her footsteps today, as they also call this region home. During this season of gratitude, we are delighted to share with you a glimpse into their Thanksgiving tradition of fellowship!

Courtesy of great-great-grandniece to Harriet Tubman, Michele Jones Galvin, this blog features the menu of items traditionally found on her Thanksgiving table. We invite you to use these items as inspiration to cook these dishes and pay homage to Harriet Tubman and her family, or you can venture to the Cayuga County restaurants we’ve highlighted to enjoy similarly prepared dishes. 

Get your appetite ready!

Some say the Thanksgiving turkey is the star of the show – others say it’s the sides!

And when it comes to the side dishes on Ms. Jones Galvin’s Thanksgiving table, there are many stars that shine! Flavorful tastes of baked macaroni and cheese, sausage and sage cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, garlic and butter green beans, sweet carrots and buttered corn sparkle among the festive tablescape. You can find similar delectable comfort foods at Lavish Lounge: their lavish sides include glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, rice and cabbage, and they offer several variations of mac and cheese, including jerk chicken mac and cheese, and lobster mac.

When it’s time to carve the turkey, we know everyone’s got their own way of preparing it.

The turkey found on Ms. Jones Galvin’s table is roasted to perfection, yielding a juicy flesh and crisp, golden skin. And those flavorful turkey drippings are used to make a gravy that’s a perfect topping for the turkey and side dishes. If you’re not in the mood to prepare your own, place an order with the Little Yard Farm, which specializes in farm-to-table freshness. 10-10 BBQ offers deep fried and smoked turkey from their catering menu – but get your order in quick, as they’re sure to sell out!

Complete your festive table with breads and sauces. 

Ms. Jones Galvin and her family enjoy dinner rolls and cornbread with their Thanksgiving feast. When visiting Cayuga County, you won’t be hard-pressed to find a restaurant serving these accompaniments, but you can also shop New Hope Mills for mixes and flour to create your own at home! You’ll also find Vidalia onion cranberry pepper jelly at New Hope Mills, which you could use as an homage to the jellied and whole cranberry sauces also featured on the Jones Galvin table.

There’s always room for dessert!

After enjoying a helping (or two!) of the deliciously prepared Thanksgiving meal, Ms. Jones Galvin and her family are ready to settle in for a few more bites to satisfy that sweet tooth. On the menu are apple pie, pumpkin pie and peach cobbler served with Neapolitan ice cream. (And there’s no shame in getting a serving of all three delights – it’s Thanksgiving, after all!)

We’d like to give many thanks to Michele Jones Galvin – great-great-grandniece to Harriet Tubman and co-author of Beyond the Underground: Aunt Harriet, Moses of Her People – for sharing the dishes enjoyed at her family’s Thanksgiving table! You can also hear more from her in the Walk in Her Footsteps: Harriet Tubman’s Life in Auburn, NY podcast.