Emily Thomas Tubman House

Historical Marker # 2236 in Frankfort notes the location of philanthropist Emily Harvie Thomas Tubman's summer home.

Emily Harvie Thomas Tubman lived an extraordinary life for a nineteenth century woman. Born in 1794 in Hanover County, Virginia, Tubman moved to Kentucky with her family. Her father, Edmund Thomas, was the registrar of the Kentucky Land Office. When Edmund died around 1804, Emily came under the legal protection of Henry Clay, who was a family friend, and grew up in Frankfort.

In 1818, while visiting Georgia, Emily met and then married Richard Tubman, a wealthy Georgia planter. When Richard died in 1836, she obtained his estate. That estate included more than 140 slaves. Richard had made provisions in his will to free his slaves, but the Georgia legislature did not allow them to remain in Georgia. Emily arranged to have the slaves that wished to be transported to Liberia sent there, and those who wished to remain with her could. About half of the slaves chose to go to Liberia and the others chose to stay with Tubman.

Being wealthy by way of her inheritance and continued good business sense in running her husband's estate, Tubman was able to give generously to various causes. She donated funds to schools in Georgia and Kentucky, as well as Disciples of Christ congregations in both states. For example, when the Frankfort Christian Church burned in 1870, she donated almost $30,000 to rebuild the structure.

Tubman died in 1885 at her Augusta, Georgia, home. She was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. A statue in Augusta, and Tubman's Frankfort home on Washington Street, both stand as testaments to her generous community service and philanthropy.