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Remembering Harriet Tubman and Thomas Garrett

Harriet Tubman portrait showing head and shoulders
Harriet Tubman
portrait of Thomas Garrett
Thomas Garrett

During this celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us pause to remember two earlier well-known liberators in the history of our region:  Harriet Tubman and Thomas Garrett.

Thomas Garrett, a Quaker hardware store owner in Wilmington, Delaware, and Harriet T,\ubman, a fugitive slave from Dorchester County, Maryland, conspired with a host of abolitionists along an escape route called the Underground Railroad. Tubman made numerous return trips on foot at great danger in order to guide to safety approximately seventy enslaved family and friends. Wilmington was the last “station” before reaching free territory in Pennsylvania. Thomas Garrett recruited many Quakers among his family and friends to staff the Underground Railroad. They hid freedom seekers in secret compartments in their homes and barns, and transported them by wagon, often at night.

Thomas Garrett was a member of the Wilmington Friends Meeting located at 4th and West Streets in Wilmington. He is buried there in the cemetery, a simple headstone marking his grave, following the Quaker testimony of simplicity.

headstone of Thomas Garrett in cemetery at Wilmington Friends Meeting
headstone of Thomas Garrett
Thomas Garrett portrayed by enactor, George Sellers
Bob Seeley portraying George Sellers, relative of Thomas Garrett


Bob Seeley is a distant relative of Thomas Garrett, who many say resembles him. Even more so in the costume he has donned for twenty years to portray Thomas Garrett for modern audiences. In this post you can listen below to a short presentation given by Seeley as he portrayed another relative of Garrett’s, George Sellers Garrett, who wore a beard. (Thomas Garrett did not).


meeting house of Wilmington Friends' Meeting
Wilmington Friends Meeting House

The presentation with slides was given on January 17, 2016, in conjunction with the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, to a gathering of Friends in the Wilmington Friends meeting house.   Some of them remember the families mentioned in Seeley’s talk who once worshiped there.


  1. Mary Ellen Green Mary Ellen Green

    Thank you for the opportunity of sharing your journey.

  2. Ralph Ralph

    Very uplifting. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Robert E. Seeley Robert E. Seeley

    Thank you for recording and sharing an important part of our American History.

  4. Robert E. Seeley Robert E. Seeley

    After review the full recording wanted to correct a senior moment ! LOL…..Riverview home where Thomas was born was finished in 1688, Our family arrived in 1682………..

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