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Road Trip to Baltimore: Josiah Henson - the real man behind the fictional character!

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

We got on the road and headed to Maryland to spend time with family....a 10 hour drive from Atlanta. Along with spending quality time with family, we planned educational and cultural activities.

Although Maryland is filled with so much rich history, we decided to visit and explore the newly opened Josiah Henson Museum and Park.

Josiah Henson Museum & Park is the former plantation property of Isaac Riley where Reverend Josiah Henson was enslaved. Newly opened in April 2021 and located in North Bethesda, Maryland, the museum tells the story of Rev. Henson’s early life experiences with interactive audio and video presentations. Archaeological displays throughout the grounds teaches about the 19th century plantation. Our visit started with a video presentation which was followed by an introduction and self guided tour exploring the grounds. The tour ended with emotional personal reflections.


Video Presentation


So who is the real man behind the Fictional Character - Uncle Tom? Born on a plantation in Maryland, Josiah Henson experienced the brutality of slavery at a young age.

As documented in the museum, Josiah's father tried to defend his mother from an overseer and he witnessed his father enduring 100 lashes, having an ear cut off and being sold off further south as punishment. Josiah never saw or heard from his father again!

Josiah himself was passed through several owners before being bout by Isaac Riley in Montgomery County, Maryland. Because Josiah became a trusted overseer, in 1825, he was tasked with transporting slaves to Riley brother's plantation in Kentucky. Although there were many chances to escape, Josiah delivered on his task. A few years later, Isaac Riley agreed to free Josiah for $450, but drastically increased the price after Josiah raised most of the money by preaching. After learning of Isaac Riley's plan to sell and separate him from his wife and children, Josiah and his family fled to Canada. They received help from safe houses along the Underground Railroad. Once he was established in Canada, Josiah led over 100 slaves to freedom along the underground railroad.

Although Josiah Henson's legacy continues through his decedents, there are little to no teachings of him in classrooms nor has his story been told on television or film. Josiah Henson's life is another heroic story waiting to be told! What are we waiting for?


The Entrance


Interactive audio presentations



The museum was very educational. I hope that they will teach about Josiah Henson in school because I would probably know nothing about him of it weren't for this museum. ~ Jayde Brown


More information

For more information about the Josiah Henson Museum and Park visit

Tickets are required and should be purchased in advanced.

Open Friday through Sunday 10am-4pm

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