Twenty-Seven Years a Free Man

The Journal of Gabriel Bibbard Moore Project 2019-2020

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” – Amendment XV

Here was a former slave living in the “free state” of California since being brought to California by the Glenn family. Once he arrived in 1853 he was a free black man. Gabe began farming and ranching, he amassed a considerable amount of property and wealth. But when he tried to exercise his newly granted rights, Gabe was met with a County Clerk that refused to acknowledge the power of the federal government over the State of California. The clerk argued that since California had not ratified the Fifteenth Amendment and the California Constitution did not allow black people to vote, he was not obligated to recognize Gabe’s rights. Despite the rule of law in his favor, the attitude of Henry St. John Dixon was echoed by the community and Gabe was turned away.

Despite this obvious slap in the face, Gabe continued to farm and raise his cattle along the Kings River. He did eventually register to vote. In 1880 his life ended tragically while crossing the Kings river with his cattle. The newspaper reported Gabe had left an estate worth $15,000, a huge sum by the standards of the time. He is buried in the simple Akers Cemetery outside of Centerville under a stone that was vandalized in the 1960’s.


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