Betsy Bailey

Betsy Bailey was the grandmother of Frederick Douglass. She was an enslaved woman who cared for the young Douglass during his early childhood, until the day she was forced to drop him off at the Wye House Plantation to begin his life as a slave.

“Living here, with my dear old grandmother and grandfather, it was a long time before I knew myself to be a slave. I knew many other things before I knew that. Grandmother and grandfather were the greatest people in the world to me; and being with them so snugly in their own little cabin–I supposed it be their own–knowing no higher authority over me or the other children than the authority of grandmamma, for a time there was nothing to disturb me…”[1]

Betsy Bailey died in 1845 at about the age of 71. She was likely buried on a slave graveyard on Holme Hill Farm. No trace of the cemetery exists today nor did it when Douglass returned there in 1878. This pin marks the entrance to the Holme Hill Farm. Betsy Bailey’s cabin once stood not far from this spot.

GPS coordinates: 38.887685, -75.960973

[1] Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom, ed. David W. Blight (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), 33.

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