Beyond the Underground: Aunt Harriet, Moses of Her People

Cover Design by Elizabeth Milhaltse Lindy


For the first time, the relatives of Harriet Tubman tell the story of the famed abolitionist within the context of their family lineage. This creative nonfiction work is an intricate mix of family lore, memoir and historical reconstruction. It captures the lives of the family and friends of the Greatest Conductor of the Underground Railroad in a way that separates it from academic works. The book depicts a family, from which an American heroine is born, that survives slavery, gains freedom and begins the journey of creating a new life beyond the shackles of human bondage.

Beyond The Underground

Joyce Stokes Jones learned that she was related to Harriet Tubman as a young girl growing up in Auburn, New York in the 1930’s. As an adult, she realized that her grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles actually knew Tubman, the Moses of Her People. Interviewing her relatives was not enough.  Jones wanted to know more. She wanted to know exactly how she was related to Harriet Tubman. She needed to know whether her great grandmother, Ann Marie Ross Stewart Elliott, was the sister or niece of Harriet Tubman.

Her research took her as far south as Maryland, as far north as St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, and to Ghana, West Africa. She met with the descendants of former slave masters.  She left no stone unturned until she was satisfied that she was able to create a tapestry of the lives of the Green Ross Tubman Stewart Gaskin Stokes lineage that revealed a story never told before.

While she set out to document her findings for her children and their children, she later thought that others might want to know what she found. Thus, the makings of a book were born.

 Beyond the Underground: Aunt Harriet, Moses of Her People  begins with the remembrances of a young black girl who frequented the Booker T. Washington Community Center in Cayuga County, New York; delves into the memories of her grandmother, Mary Elliott Gaskin; discloses a new discovery about Harriet’s nephew in- law, Thomas Elliott (renown escaped slave);  and reveals that Harriet Tubman’s grandmother, Modesty, was a slave on the Eastern Shore of Maryland who gave birth to the daughter of a white man.  The daughter, named Henrietta Green, would become Harriet Ross Tubman’s mother. It answers the long sought question about Ann Marie Ross Stewart Elliott.

The saga tells the story of seven generations of women of African descent tied by bloodline to Harriet Tubman.  Harriet, herself, is showcased as an ordinary woman who did extraordinary things. Tubman was an abolitionist, liberator, and humanitarian whose service to others was a testament to her values of commitment to faith, family, fortitude and freedom.

This book is the authors’ tribute to their Aunt Harriet and all of those who came before them, upon whose shoulders their freedom was won.

Site by Ashtian Holmes