Hard Working

Harriet Tubman Statue at Equal Rights Heritage Center


Harriet Tubman - Hard Working

Harriet Tubman cultivated many skills throughout her life that helped her various causes. Being industrious and entrepreneurial brought opportunities to raise funds for her philanthropy, freedom missions and provide for the people she loved.

Cook. Harriet Tubman learned how to cook from her mother, who worked in the kitchen of the “big house” on the plantation where Tubman was born into slavery. During the Civil War, Tubman was paid so little, she supplemented her income by running a restaurant in Beaufort, SC where she sold root beer, pies and gingerbread to Union soldiers. She baked and brewed during the night after her long day’s work.

Entrepreneur and Businesswoman. Harriet Tubman negotiated with her enslaver to pay him a yearly fee so she could work for whomever she wanted. She hired herself out, earning enough extra money to buy two oxen and dream of buying her freedom. When she settled in Auburn, NY, she raised and sold pigs, cream and butter, eggs, and vegetables, and bartered with neighbors and Native American women for household items she needed.

Farmer. At a young age, Harriet Tubman was hired out to work as a fieldhand on the plantation. She tended crops and farm animals. After escaping to freedom and settling in Auburn, NY, she owned and operated her own farm where she raised pigs, grew vegetables and tended to her orchard. In addition to growing apples, her favorite fruit, she also had plenty of pear and peach trees on her property.

Landowner. Invited by the Sewards to move to Auburn, NY from St. Catharines in Canada, Harriet Tubman purchased her property from the abolitionists for $1,200. Relatives say she was extremely grateful to God for the opportunity to purchase a home and 32-acres of land, which she revered. It is on this property that she built the Harriet Tubman Residence, which was the family homestead for herself, her husband, family members and, often, other boarders who had fallen on bad times, and eventually the Tubman Home for the Aged.

Naturalist. Ben Ross, Harriet Tubman’s father, was an expert lumberjack and he lived off the land. He taught Tubman how to navigate through forests, fields and waterways, and find food and places to hide. Tubman used this knowledge of the natural environment to survive while traveling along the Underground Railroad.


Discover Harriet Tubman’s Chosen Home

Find out more to see and do around abolition, civil rights and equal rights heritage in our area. Harriet Tubman settled here in her freedom for many reasons, and the community that welcomed her with open arms is a big part of that story.