The Civil War in Missouri

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Iron Dividers Made by a Slave of Tilman Cullom

ca. 1850
MHM Collections

This tool was reputedly made by a slave of Tilman Cullom of Warren County, Missouri. Cullom moved there from Kentucky in about 1831 and quickly became one of the leading men in the community. In 1833 he was one of three judges in the first session of the first county court in Warren County. The 1850 slave schedule indicates that Tilman enslaved 15 people—6 males and 9 females—ranging in age from 8 weeks old to 45 years old. Some of the slaves would have helped to raise Cullom’s large family and do agricultural work, but this tool represents the diversity of other jobs that slaves in Missouri performed. A skilled blacksmith made the tool, which would have been used by someone, possibly another slave, trained in carpentry or woodworking.