Nova Scotia Archives

African Nova Scotians in the Age of Slavery and Abolition

Gabriel Hall

When this picture was taken Hall was about 92 years old. This is the only known image of an African American refugee who came to Nova Scotia after the War of 1812.

Gabriel Hall was an escaped slave from the Chesapeake Bay area (coastal Maryland or Virginia). He was born about 1800. His age at the time of emigration was given on an official list as 17. He settled at Preston, most likely in 1816. In 1824 he petitioned unsuccessfully for land at Preston. He mentioned in his petition that he was too young to have received land during the original settlement. He gave his age as 21 and his occupation as farmer. He petitioned again for land in 1841. Again he was unsuccessful; the 1842 general Preston land grant was only for those who had received licences of occupation in 1815. Not one to give up, in 1854 Hall purchased 250 acres of land at Preston for £10.

Based on census returns, Hall and his wife Lucinda appear to have had three children. In 1838 they are listed with two children. In 1851 they had a son and a daughter living at home. The son was over 20. The daughter was under 10, making her too young to be one of the two children in 1838. Perhaps one of them had already left home by 1851. All of the Hall's children had left home by 1861. We do not know any of their names. Hall's wife Lucinda died sometime in the 1880s. He then hired a farm servant, who was able to read, to run his farm and handle his affairs. Gabriel Hall died sometime in the mid-to-late 1890s.

Date: March 1892

Photographer: George H. Craig

Reference: George H. Craig  Nova Scotia Archives  accession number 1988-387 negative number: N-728

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