The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.
Missouri law required slaves to carry a written pass if they traveled without their owner. Though barely legible, this handwritten document was official enough to allow for the safe passage of a slave named Barney to Columbia, Missouri. Barney used the pass to attempt an escape, but he was captured. According to a Howard County court document dated June 2, 1852, “Joseph Mattose makes oath and says that he apprehended a negro man about 19 or 20 years old…he calls himself Barney and says he belongs to Samuel Grove of Ray County.” Slave escapes had been a problem for slaveholders since Missouri’s territorial days. Numerous laws were passed to prevent enslaved people from running away, but none of them proved to be effective.