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  • Writer's pictureT. Brookshire

Minty Ross: From Bondage to Freedom, A Life of Courage

Updated: Jan 3



Araminta “Minty” Ross was born into slavery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in Dorchester County in 1822. She was the daughter of Harriet Green and Benjamin Ross. Minty’s father was also enslaved, but was freed at the age of 45 due to his owner’s wishes after his death.


Family

Minty had 9 siblings. Three of them, Mariah Ritty, Linah, and Soph, were sold to slavery in the Deep South and lost forever to the family.


Minty was a primed field hand, described as a “small, muscular woman” standing at 4’11”, yet carrying half cords of wood like any other man in the fields. She was often seen with her skirt looped around her waist and a vividly colored bandanna tied around her head. At an early age, she was also hired out to work for other families as a muskrat trapper, weaver, and nurse.

When she was 5 or 6 years old, she was hired her out as a nursemaid to a woman named "Miss Susan". Minty was ordered to care for the baby and rock the cradle as it slept. If the baby woke up and cried, Minty would receive lashings. She later recounted a particular day when she was whipped five times before breakfast. She carried the scars for the rest of her life. She found ways to resist… such as running away for 5 days, wearing layers of clothing as protection against beatings, and fighting back.


Tragedy Strikes


Early signs of her resistance to slavery and abhorrence to its evils came at age of 12. She was sent to perform what should have been a harmless chore. Minty was sent to a dry goods store on an errand and encountered another slave there, a boy fugitive, her age, who had left his plantation without permission. When the slave’s overseer demanded she help restrain him, a defiant Minty refused. The violent exchange culminated in the overseer throwing a 2-pound iron weight at the fleeing young fugitive. But the iron weight fell short and instead of it hitting the boy, the weight struck Minty on the forehead, leaving her bloodied and unconscious. Denied medical care, Minty developed a forehead deformity and scar that is associated with a depressed skull fracture, in medical terms. Minty later said that the injury would probably have killed her if her thick hair had not helped to cushion the blow.





Seizures & Epileptic Episodes

The accident left Minty with substantial injuries and a lifetime of severe headaches. There was also a nagging “buzzing” that would frequently occur in her head. Minty would fall into sudden sleeps in the middle of day, which may be diagnosed today as the chronic sleep disorder called narcolepsy.


In addition to her sudden attacks of sleep and absence seizures, she also experienced vivid religious dreams and hallucinations throughout her life. But this injury left her anything but impaired…


Exercising Her Faith

Rather than a roadblock, Minty’s head injury became a propellant fueling her faith. Her mother told her Bible stories in her youth, and thus she was always a devout Christian. But after the incident, she began reporting vivid dreams and powerful “visions” that she believed were revelations and premonitions from God, urging her to follow his teachings… and do his will by freeing the enslaved.


Minty’s narcolepsy was the catalyst that inspired her to flee slavery. But she leveraged those visions and spiritual revelations to return back and help three of her younger brothers, Ben, Henry, and Robert escape… as well as her parents.


As God spoke to her and guided her path, she would become known as the “Moses of her People”. Along with freeing her family members, she’s renowned for leading close to 1000 enslaved people to freedom via the Underground Railroad.


Moses of Her People

We know this young, resilient lady … with the severe disability… as HARRIET TUBMAN

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