The Governor Ross Mansion and Plantation
By Thurman W. Ross
I am totally fascinated about the civilian side of what went on during the Civil War. What I mean by this is, what was life like on the plantations, in the homes, in the slave cabins, and life in general for both colored and white. In the late 1990s, President Bill Clinton placed The Governor Ross Mansion and Plantation here in Seaford, Delaware, on the list of two hundred and some places in the United States used by the Underground Railroad. This was approved by the U. S. Congress and is on record at the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C. At The Ross Plantation we found the original slave cabin in the woods at the back of the Plantation. The cabin is made of whole logs and then covered in clapboard. The University of Delaware came and examined the cabin, declaring it, "the only log slave dwelling in existence in the State of Delaware." We have a Kent Mutual Insurance policy map covering the Plantation and all of its buildings dating from the 1850s. The policy has a map of the Plantation and the exact placement in feet of each building in relation to the Plantation Mansion. The slave quarters were only 24 feet from the Southeast corner of the Mansion's dining room. I did research as to why the quarters were so close to the entrance of the Governor's Mansion and found that 1) the slaves would be near if needed by the Ross family, 2) the Governor could keep an eye on the slaves and 3) (the most disgusting of all) by having the slave quarters so close to the front entrance of the house, visitors to the Plantation and the Governor's Mansion would see how many slaves the Governor had, a sign of his wealth and prosperity. The 23 room home my wife and I live in is actually on the far Northwest corner of the original 1,400 acre Governor William Ross Plantation.
I have always felt that one must learn all of our history. Some people like to ignore parts and others gloss over or glorify some parts. We must learn of both the good and the bad parts of our history. Only by learning of both the follies and triumphs of our history will we be prepared for the future and the battle to eliminate prejudice. As I told you before, I am not proud of my family's past involvement in slavery but it is something I feel that must be exposed and talked about. Only by doing this will we be able to learn and to avoid the pitfalls that lie before us in our future. History is our greatest teacher. What you are doing is a great service to our present day generations. There are not many people who try to present the whole truth.