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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Seaford in Sussex County, Delaware — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Gateway to Freedom: The Tilly Escape

 
 
Gateway to Freedom: The Tilly Escape Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, August 24, 2019
1. Gateway to Freedom: The Tilly Escape Marker
Inscription.  In October 1856, famed Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman organized what is considered by Tubman scholars to be "one of her most complicated and clever escape attempts." Working at the request of a fiancé who had escaped to Canada, Tubman located a slave named Tilly in Baltimore. Believing a steamship voyage to Philadelphia too dangerous and expensive, Tubman decided she and Tilly would travel by steamboat to Seaford, first sailing south down the Chesapeake Bay then up the Nanticoke River. Upon landing, most likely at the present-day Riverwalk, Tubman and Tilly spent the night at a hotel located atop the hill — now home to Gateway Park. Nearly arrested by slave traders the following morning, accounts note that the hotel landlord intervened on behalf of the two women. Thanks to Tubman's letter of passage which identified her as a free African American woman from Philadelphia, she and Tilly obtained passes to safely travel north, first by train to Camden, then by carriage to Thomas Garrett in Wilmington. A well-known abolitionist and leader in the Underground Railroad movement. Garrett documented the story in a letter dated October
Gateway to Freedom: The Tilly Escape Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, August 24, 2019
2. Gateway to Freedom: The Tilly Escape Marker
27, 1856. Addressed to Eliza Wigham in Scotland and written three days after the Tilly escape, the letter vividly recounts what Garrett deemed a "remarkable" trip and one which "manifested great shrewdness." Tilly's story is the only documented escape led by Harriet Tubman at the headwaters of the Nanticoke, which border her home county of Dorchester, Maryland. The Tilly escape site was included in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom by the National Park Service in September 2013.
 
Erected 2014 by Delaware Public Archives. (Marker Number SC-233.)
 
Location. 38° 38.51′ N, 75° 36.56′ W. Marker is in Seaford, Delaware, in Sussex County. Marker is on Market Street just south of High Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Seaford DE 19973, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Governor William H. H. Ross (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); St. Luke's Episcopal Church (about 700 feet away); Mount Olivet United Methodist Church (about 700 feet away); Hiram Lodge No. 21 A.F&A.M. (approx. 0.2 miles away); Forty & Eight Boxcar (approx. 0.2 miles away); Killed in Action Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Nanticoke Post No. 6 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Seaford.
 
Categories. Abolition & Underground RRAfrican AmericansWaterways & VesselsWomen
 

More. Search the internet for Gateway to Freedom: The Tilly Escape.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 25, 2019. This page originally submitted on August 25, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 41 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 25, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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