Malone’s Church rehab project underway

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Sarah Kinser, left, and Renna’ McKinney are working to restore historic Malone’s Church in Madison. The structure and its area are part of the Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad Byway.

MADISON — A project has begun to rehabilitate a historic African-American house of worship. Malone’s Church was established by free and enslaved blacks in 1864, and is now found on the Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad Byway Tour, as Stop 8.

“For decades before the Civil War, four nearby communities, connected by footpaths through the woods, provided a strong social network among free and enslaved blacks,” according to a guidebook published by the Maryland Department of Tourism. “Malone’s Methodist Episcopal Church was the first African-American church to be established by these communities on the eve of emancipation, indicating that strong faith communities existed long before freedom came.”

Sarah Kinser and Renna’ McKinney are two supporters of the project. They distributed materials on the site during the Groove City Culture Fest in Cambridge on Aug. 17. “We know Harriett Tubman was in that area,” Ms. Kinser said.

Research shows that Araminta Ross, or “Minty,” later known as Harriett Tubman, was probably born in 1822 at Anthony Thomas’ farm on nearby Harrisville Road. “Oral tradition suggests that Harriett Tubman worked and lived near the historic Malone’s Methodist Episcopal Church with her free husband, John Tubman,” the guidebook says.

The church is no longer used for worship. “We are dedicated to rehabbing the building,” Ms. Kinser said, for use as a historical interpretation center.

Now, the supporters are looking for volunteers and donations.

“All donations go to support the rehabilitation of the church and cemetery,” a statement from the group said. “We are happy to accept in-kind donations of materials and services.”

Willing hands are also welcome to join the job, as are visitors.

“Come see the site,” the statement said. “Contact us first, and we can go with you.”

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