- May 12, 2019
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The Bayly cabin has been standing in Cambridge, Maryland, in its current form for more than 150 years. Courtesy of MDOT
Archaeologists found muskrat, turtle, and other edible remains in Harriet Tubman Country.
Important sources include the autobiographies of Frederick Douglas and Underground Railroad conductor William Still’s “Journal C,” a log book where he kept details of escapees’ journeys.
In these accounts, travelers on the Underground Railroad eat whatever they can carry, beg, forage, or filch. Some common dishes enslaved people ate on plantations became staples of the journey. For example, in one of his autobiographies, Frederick Douglass describes ash cake, a staple food made by wrapping a paste of cornmeal and water in oak leaves and steaming the packet in hot ash. Cohen cites one account from two freedom seekers from North Carolina who, lacking any bowls, mixed cornmeal and water in their hats.