Museum open house to focus on the making of slave collars
Allison-Antrim Museum, 365 S. Ridge Ave., Greencastle, will host a Sunday open house from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 10. The museum is also open weekly on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from noon to 4 p.m. and on Tuesdays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
In the early 1820s, Ben was a young slave who was owned by Andrew Kauffman, Greene Township, Franklin County. After running away three times and threatening to kill Kauffman, Ben was taken to a local blacksmith where a two pound six ounce iron collar was made for him. The collar was made as a marker in case Ben tried to escape to freedom a fourth time. After three years passed, Kauffman sold Ben to a neighboring farmer, at which time the iron collar was removed from around Ben’s neck. The collar was kept for four generations in the Kauffman family until the spring of 2007 when Courtland C. Kauffman donated it to the Allison-Antrim Museum.
This year, between February and August, the iron collar was part of the “Rome and America” exhibit at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. It was displayed alongside an ancient Roman slave collar. Ben’s iron collar has also been shown to the historians at Colonial Williamsburg (CW). On Sept. 25, a reproduction of Ben’s collar was introduced into one of CW’s African American programs, “What Holds the Future.” This special presentation depicts slaves who lived in Colonial Williamsburg and who were about to be sold on the auction block. During the first week of September, CW’s master blacksmith Ken Schwarz also made two other reproduction slave collars which were given to Allison-Antrim Museum. A video was made of Schwarz during the smithing process. This video, “The Making of a Slave Collar,” will be shown throughout the Sunday, Oct. 10 open house time.
Ben’s original collar will be on exhibit as well as the two reproduction collars. Guests to the museum will be permitted to handle the two reproductions so that they can begin to better understand the horrible plight of slaves.
Additional exhibits of interest are sabers and swords of Greencastle-Antrim Civil War veterans, a long rifle and pistol that were made in Greencastle, an original banner from the Corp. William Rihl GAR post in Greencastle, an exhibit about the Timothy Anderson UGRR site and a special yellow ware exhibit.
For information, visit www.greencastlemuseum.org or call 717-597-9010.