The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.
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. Lynch may be among the group of unidentified men shown here standing in front of his slave market, which was located at 100 Locust Street. Rev. Galusha Anderson, a Baptist minister, described the quarters inside which held men and women offered for sale: “The room was in the shape of a parallelogram…. And had one small window high up near the ceiling. There was no floor but the bare earth…. There were seven slaves there, both men and women, herded together, without any arrangement for privacy.” Lynch had a larger facility a few blocks away at the corner of Myrtle and Fifth streets, which, according to Anderson, held children aged 5 to 16. Federal authorities confiscated this slave pen in the first year of the war and converted it into a military prison. In an ironic twist of fate the Myrtle Street Prison detained those deemed sympathetic to the Confederacy.