The Rev. Josiah Henson published three separate autobiographies about his daring escape from slavery in North Bethesda in the 19th century, but none gained the same acclaim as the novel that changed the face of the American slave trade.
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 work “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was based in part on Henson’s quest to bring his family to a free blacks’ settlement in northern Canada and, in August, the PBS television series “Time Team America” will profile Josiah Henson Park in North Bethesda to uncover more details about one of Maryland’s best know abolitionists.
Researchers from PBS and the Montgomery County Parks Service spent three days in 2012 filming at the park and conducting an archeological dig on the site of Henson-era structures thought lost to suburban development, according to a news release.
Part of that dig discovered three layers of earth flooring in the kitchen of the standing log cabin at the park, indicating to researchers the cabin was built on the same footprint Henson describes in his first autobiography in 1849.
The Montgomery Parks Foundation will conduct a $2 million fundraising campaign to bolster the educational aspects of Henson Park. The County Council will match those funds with $4.85 million.
“Time Team America, The Search for Josiah Henson” airs on PBS on August 19 at 8 p.m. Preview the episode online here.