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Young authors press on in face of virus

For The Madera Tribune

Angela Lindsay, far left, stands with her 8th grade class in Chowchilla. Having led her students in researching the Chowchilla kidnapping, Lindsay now has them writing the biography of an ex-slave from primary sources. All of their work is being done on-line because of the school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Local school doors may be closed for now, but that’s not stopping one class of eighth graders from pressing on to complete the book on which they have been working.

Angela Lindsay’s eighth grade class at Dixieland, had just started writing their biography of Gabriel Bibbard Moore when the Madera Unified school board decided for safety’s sake to temporarily close the district’s schools because of the corona virus. Armed with modern electronic devices, the teacher talked the kids into pressing on with their project at home.

Lindsay is sending the students different segments of Moore’s life to write about. Each assignment is then completed, put on their special website, and edited. The students then receive their next assignment, which is edited and graded as well.

Most of the material for the book comes from primary sources and were located on the Internet. It includes census reports, tax rolls, old newspaper articles, and probate records. It even includes records from an old pioneer store in which Moore had a charge account.

Moore was an ex-slave whose masters brought him to California in 1853, which made him a free man. Somehow Moore was able to secure a homestead and some livestock. By the time of his death in 1880, Moore’s estate was valued at $15,000, a sizable sum for those times.

Of particular interest to the students are a couple of legal scrapes Moore got into.

One occurred in 1857, when he was accused of attacking one of the local Indian women whom he caught trying to steal some of his watermelons. He was tried in a justice court and found innocent.

Gabe’s next tangle with the law came when he shot one of his field hands in 1879. A coroner’s inquest found the death justifiable homicide.

Gabe Moore died the next year trying to move a herd of cattle cross the Kings River in May. He was swept off his horse and his body was found the next day downstream.

Moore was buried in the Aker’s cemetery at Centerville.

The students are planning a ceremony in May in honor of the forgotten pioneer and to present their book on his life to the public.

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