The Civil War in Missouri

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Money Box from Bernard M. Lynch’s Slave Pen

ca. 1861
MHM Collections

Bernard M. Lynch had already fled South when Federal authorities recovered this oak box from his slave pen at Myrtle and Fifth streets in September 1861. Lynch may have used the box to hold money from the sale of slaves—a healthy man in his twenties could bring as much as $1,200. St. Louis was a major center for the slave trade in the years leading up to the Civil War. As many as 30 slave dealers were accounted for in 1850, but by 1859 Bernard M. Lynch was one of only two left. In an ironic twist of fate, the Federal authorities converted Lynch’s building into a prison and used it to confine those deemed sympathetic to the Confederacy. The St. Louis Missouri Democrat dubbed the prison the “Hotel de Lynch,” but it was more commonly known as the Myrtle Street Prison.