Slave Shackle.

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Kansas State Historical Society:

Slave shackle This shackle (pictured on display in the museum's) was donated to the Kansas State Historical Society in the late 19th century. The method by which the donor acquired the shackle was explained in the following letter, dated Feb. 7, 1893, written to F.G. Adams, then Secretary of the Society.

My Dear Sir,

I send you today by Ex. [express] a shackle cut from the leg of a slave by Robert McFarland, since 1877 a resident and business man of Wichita . . . .

In 1859, Mr. McFarland owned a foundry at Lexington, MO. A slave owner named James Hicklin owned a slave man, about 50 years of age who was disposed to run away. To prevent this Hicklin had made at a Blacksmith shop a shackle to which was attached part of a log chain, four feet long, and riveted to that an iron ball weighing 20 or 25 pounds. This shackle was riveted around the Negro's ankle. He had worn it until it had cut deep into the flesh, making a loathsome sore. Mr. McFarland, as a humane man, took the Negro to the forge shop of his foundry in the night, cut the rivet, pried open the shackle and set the Negro free. The ball and chain was thrown into a slave holder's well about 1/4 of a mile distant, while the shackle was buried near the foundry where it remained until after the close of the war when McFarland dug it up and has kept it until today. He presented it to me with a wish to have it preserved in the collection of the State Historical Society as a relic of barbarism.

    Very truly yours,
      J.R. Mead

P.S. Mr. McFarland established the first foundry in Wichita in 1877 and has carried it on successfully to the present time and is a valuable and reliable citizen.

Robert McFarland volunteered as a foundryman during the Civil War (1861-1865), making shot for the Union forces. At the end of the war, Olive Edwards McFarland (Robert's wife) operated a school for African American children in the basement of their house in Lexington, Missouri. The McFarland family moved to Kansas in 1871, eventually settling in Wichita where Robert opened a foundry and machine shop known as McFarland & Son.

© 1998 Kansas State Historical Society

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