Kentucky Ravine and Muddy Shore

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape



Douglass wrote:

“The old cabin, with its rail floor and rail bedsteads upstairs, and its clay floor downstairs, and its dirt chimney, and windowless sides, … was MY HOME–the only home I ever had; and I loved it, and all connected with it.  The old fences around it, and the stumps in the edge of the woods near it, and the squirrels that ran, skipped, and played upon them, were objects of interest and affection.  There, too, right at the side of the hut, stood the old well.”  (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch. 2)

“[My grandmother] was a good nurse, and a capital hand at making nets for catching shad and herring; and these nets were in great demand, not only in Tuckahoe, but at Denton and Hillsboro, neighboring villages.”   (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch. 1) 
 

Markers in the Landscape

In 1806 [Anthony] acquired the 41 acres of wild and untillable land called “Kentucky”, near where Betsey Bailey’s cabin stood, for virtually nothing. (Young Frederick Douglass, p. 27)

1808 map shows “Kentucky” parcel near river at right.
[Isaac and Betsey Bailey, Douglass’s grandparents] set up housekeeping, not in the communal quarter, but in a little cabin in a woods clearing not far from the bank of the Tuckahoe… Outside was a shallow well into which a bucket was dipped by means of a wooden beam suspended in the fork of a dead tree. There was also a nearby spring, in a wild ravine known as “Kentucky”, and a path that led down to the creek bank at a spot called “muddy shore”, the fishing ground where shad and herring were trapped in seine nets during their annual spring runs to spawn in the fresh upper reaches of the Tuckahoe.  (Young Frederick Douglass, p. 17; note 52) 

Share Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *