online book
Colonel Allensworth
Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California



A.M.E. Church
Noted Individuals

Historic Sites
Selected References


A History of Black Americans in California:

Gabriel Moore Ranch
Centerville, Fresno County

A Black man, Gabriel Moore, believed to be one of the first settlers to take water out of the Kings River for irrigation, arrived in Centerville, Fresno County, in 1853. Centerville was then a prosperous settlement and remained so until the advent of the railroad in the Central Valley. A native of Alabama, Moore came to the upper Kings River with the Akers Wagon Train. Within four years of his arrival, Moore, who appears on the 1857 tax rolls, had become a rancher of importance in the Kings River area.

His 40-to-5O-acre ranch was located along the Kings River bottom, a long narrow agricultural belt that came under cultivation during the last half of the nineteenth century. Like other prosperous ranchers, Moore had cattle. White southern neighbors drove herd for him, although he also hired Black men. Two Black laborers, Frank Hinds and John Wiley, were listed in the 1880 census as Moore's boarders.

Moore's ownership of property and his status as a registered voter suggest that a Black man enjoyed full citizenship in Fresno County during the latter half of the nineteenth century, with equal access to the valley's resources. On the contrary, however, statements made by the County Court in the disposition of an estate belonging to one of Moore's neighbors is clear evidence of the discrimination that permeated the valley. John Baker, a Black man, died in 1879, leaving five orphaned children; the eldest was 16 years of age. Rather than holding the estate for the heir, the probate judge liquidated Baker's property, stating as his reasons: "it appearing to the satisfaction of this court that the said property in its present condition is of no available use to the said family under their present circumstances, they being of inferior race of mixed blood."

Moore's name also disappeared from the county property maps within 11 years after his death, even though he was survived by a wife, a son, and five adopted children.

This area has since been subdivided.

NEXT> Hairdressing and Shaving Saloon

online book Top

Last Modified: Wed, Nov 17 2004 10:00:00 pm PDT

ParkNet Home