Born into slavery before the American Revolution, Jude Hall fought valiantly in several of the war’s most crucial battles, earning the nickname “Old Rock” for his strength and heroism. Yet while he would gain his freedom after the war, and a small plot of land in Exeter, New Hampshire on which to raise his family, Hall couldn’t shield his children from the many perils that befell people of color in early America—from the ever-present burden of poverty to the terrifying possibility that they might be abducted and sold into slavery. Kidnapping free blacks to transport south was a lucrative business, as southern plantation owners were hungry for laborers. And African Americans rarely had documentary proof of their status, much less legal standing to question the word of a white man in court. Children and teens made especially attractive targets.
Three of Hall’s sons would be kidnapped and shipped south, never to return home.