Benjamin Ross

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Benjamin Ross

Also Known As: "slave of Anthony Thompson"
Death: Died in Auburn, Cayuga, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Harriet Ross
Father of Harriet Tubman; Rachel Ross?; John Stewart (Robert Ross); Linah Ross; William Henry Stewart and 4 others
Brother of Martin? Ross

Occupation: Slave, timber estimator
Managed by: Linda Kathleen Thompson, (c)
Last Updated:

About Benjamin Ross

Benjamin Ross was Harriet Tubman's father. By 1840, Ben, was manumitted, freed from slavery at the age of 45, as stipulated in a former owner's will, though his real age was closer to 55. He continued working as a timber estimator and foreman for the Thompson family, who had held him as a slave.

...As the only woman working in the forests on a timber gang, Harriet Tubman became part of an exclusively male world. Here, beyond the watchful eye of white masters, Tubman's father and others passed along the map of communication networks that were the provenance of black men.... These men communicated with the black mariners whose ships carried the timber to the Baltimore shipyards.... They were part of a larger world, a world beyond the plantation, beyond the woods, to towns and cities up and down the Chesapeake Bay, to Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. They knew the safe places, they knew the sympathetic whites, and, more importantly, they knew the danger. They created an invisible world, a world parallel to the white master's world. A world necessarily unknown, veiled, and secret. - - from Bound for the Promised Land - Copyright © Kate Clifford Larson (1)


  1. It was a wise plan of our sagacious heroine to leave her old parents till the last to be brought away. They were pensioned off as too old to work, had a cabin, and a horse and cow, and were quite comfortable. If Harriet had taken them away before the young people, these last would have been sold into Southern slavery, to keep them out of her way. But at length Harriet heard that the old man had been betrayed by a slave whom he had assisted, but who had turned back, and when questioned by his wife, told her the story of his intended escape, and of the aid he had received from "Old Ben." This woman, hoping to curry favor with her master, revealed the whole to him, and "Old Ben" was arrested. He was to be tried the next week, when Harriet appeared upon the scene and, as she says, "saved dem de expense ob de trial,["] and removed her father to a higher court, by taking him off to Canada.  (Bradford, page 48)
  2. "In 1857 she made her most venturesome journey, for she brought with her to the North her old parents, who were no longer able to walk such distances as she must go by night. Consequently she must hire a wagon for them, and it required all her ingenuity to get them through Maryland and Delaware safe. She accomplished it, however, and by the aid of her friends she brought them safe to Canada, where they spent the winter. Her account of their sufferings there--of her mother's complaining and her own philosophy about it--is a lesson of trust in Providence better than many sermons ....   " (Bradford, page 80)


  2. Larson, Kate C. Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero. New York: Ballantine, 2004. Print.
  3. Name: Benjamin Ross. Home in 1840 (City, County, State): Parsons Creek, Dorchester, Maryland. Free Colored Persons - Males - Under 10: 1. Free Colored Persons - Males - 10 thru 23: 2. Free Colored Persons - Males - 36 thru 54: 1. Free Colored Persons - Females - 24 thru 35: 1. Free Colored Persons - Females - 36 thru 54: 1. Persons Employed in Agriculture: 2. Total Free Colored Persons: 6. Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 6.  Year:  1840; Census Place:  Parsons Creek,  Dorchester,  Maryland; Roll:  165; Page:  92; Image:  190; Family History Library Film:  0013185.
  4. 1850 -United States Federal Census Name: Benjamin Ross Age: 60 Birth Year: abt 1790 Home in 1850: Caroline, Maryland Race: Black Gender: Male Family Number: 1409 Household Members: Benjamin Ross, 60; Henrietta Ross, 55; Mary Ross, 25; Ann Ross, 6;Henry Ross, 15 Source Citation Year: 1850; Census Place: Caroline,  Maryland; Roll:  M432_288; Page:  162B; Image:  326.
  5. [ Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman: Electronic Edition. Bradford, Sarah H. (Sarah Hopkins), b. 1818]
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Benjamin Ross's Timeline

Age 23
Age 26
Age 28
Age 31
March 1822
Age 37
Cambridge, Dorchester, Maryland, USA
Age 38
Virginia, USA
Age 40
Age 45
Age 47