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Owner of property hopes to preserve slave cabin

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By John Barnhart

According to the census of 1860, there were 10,176 slaves laboring in Bedford County. A tangible reminder of these men and women is on the verge of crumbling into oblivion.

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    Ivy Cliff is a historic house in New London. It’s more than 200 years old and was once the home of a family that owned a tobacco plantation. Near the house, one of the plantation’s slave cabins is still standing and Chris Gulluscio, the current owner of Ivy Cliff, wants to save it.

    The cabin is a small log house with two stone chimneys. The reason it has two chimneys is that it is actually a duplex of sorts. It consists of two separate one-room dwellings under one roof. What initially looks like the doorway, as you approach the cabin, is actually the opening of the breezeway between the dwellings. There’s a stairway in the breezeway that  leads to a loft. Next to this cabin is the stone foundation of a second cabin of similar size.

    Mosselle Miles doesn’t remember slaves, although as a young woman she knew an elderly man who had been a slave. Miles came to Ivy Cliff when she married in 1946 and remained there until she sold it in 2006.

    “There were seven on the hillside," she said. The one still standing was an eighth.

    At one time, there were probably more. According to Gulluscio, the plantation originally covered 3,400 acres and was worked by 100 slaves.

    Miles said that her husband’s father had all the old slave cabins, except the one still standing, demolished. A caretaker lived there while her future husband was in the Navy during World War II.  She said people continued living in it up until the 1950s.

    The former slave she knew was a man named Ed Moss. According to Miles, Moss had been sold to a plantation in Georgia but returned to Bedford County after the War Between the States. At that time, the owner of of Ivy Cliff gave each former slave family 40 acres of land.

    When Miles knew Ed Moss, he was an old man with white hair and a white beard. He died shortly after she came to the house and she doesn’t know how old he was.

    “I doubt he even knew how old he was,” she said.

     Gulluscio believes the slave cabin was built in the early 19th century. He said that Dr. Douglas Sanford, professor of historic preservation at Mary Washington University, came down with a class to document the building.

     Gulluscio would like to see the slave cabin preserved, but has no money to do so. Some work has been done to stabilize it, but Gulluscio needs help to do more.

    “If anybody wants to contact us and help save it on this property, we’d love to hear from them,”  Gulluscio said.

    Chris  Gulluscio can be contacted via e-mail at chris@historicivycliff.com.