Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, WASHINGTON, DC – On a numbingly cold day in Upstate New York, Judith Bryant was eating a bowl of potato, parsnip and turnip soup at a cafe in downtown Auburn. In between spoonfuls, she talked about the town’s most famous resident, who lived in what is now part of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park. Judith also resides nearby, in a house that Tubman’s nephew built, which was no coincidence.
“My grandmother was Harriet Tubman’s grandniece,” said the vivacious 85-year-old great-great-grandniece of Tubman, one of several descendants in the Finger Lakes area.
Highlight reels of Tubman’s life often focus on the first half of her biography: her escape from slavery in Maryland, her valiant acts as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, her heroic feats as a Black woman in the Civil War. The 2019 film “Harriet,” for instance, ends with the “Moses of Her People” leading Union soldiers in the Combahee River Raid in South Carolina, a military operation that liberated more than 700 enslaved people. However, the more than half a century she spent in Auburn — from 1859, when she purchased seven acres of land from a prominent political family, to 1913, when she died of pneumonia — is equally stirring.