Interviewee: Daniel Leek
Interviewer: Dr. Mary Louise McCarthy-Brandt
Location: Rockwood Park, Saint John, NB
Courtesy of Fredericton Region Museum, 2020.
Daniel Leek talks about his great-great-grandmother, Sabinah Grant of Springhill, New Brunswick. She was enslaved to Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Allen.
Seated in front of Lily Lake in Rockwood Park, Saint John, Daniel Leek on the left and Mary Louise McCarthy-Brandt on the right.
[Mary Louise McCarthy-Brandt (MLMcC-B)] The word is Sabinah Grant, and how does she play in your… DNA, in your family history?
[Daniel Leek (DL)] You could probably look at this as being both a good and bad thing, right? But… Sabinah Grant gave birth to two sons: one Samuel McCarty, and George Leek. Her… the father of those sons would be, and I make a joke with it, because when you, when you look at the history and read about it, you say George is an illegitimate son of Lieutenant [-Colonel] Isaac Allen who fought in the [American] Revolutionary War and… well, we’ll say that the, that the British side lost, and it’s funny though… I was doing some research on the one, I’ll get back to you in a minute…
[DL] But anyway, he moved where he had a home and land in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, once the war was over, to Nova Scotia. Eventually, they did not get along with some of the legislatures or whatnot in Nova Scotia, and they formed what was, which became New Brunswick. He was responsible for a number of cases, I can probably get into more legit, but I want to get right into Sabinah.
[DL] So, Sabinah was one of his slaves. He would have fathered two children, as I mentioned, right in Springhill New Brunswick, I believe. Yes. I know she was a strong woman; I know, I know a lot of people in that line of Leeks, including myself, have a very strong… it’s got to be a strong gene I guess, right? It probably would have to be. You, you went through a lot of… atrocities and… deprivation and whatnot, right? So, it builds, it builds you up, to a better person. And they survived it. Like they… they went through a lot, and they… they endured I guess, right? So that alone in your DNA, and stuff right, makes it, shapes you like. It’s almost [like] the spirit of Sabinah is still in us, you know, today.
[MLMcC-B] Like 250 years maybe because… from our shared research we discovered she arrived in 1783 to Nova Scotia, and then of course when, as you said, Isaac Allen was one of the forming… forming lawyers for the Province of New Brunswick, and that was July, 1784.
[MLMcC-B] So… Sabinah, like, I agree with you, she must have had such, such tenacity. But the question here is, do you believe, or do you feel, that Sabinah and George were treated fairly?
[DL] Fairly? I don’t know. When you, when you think of fairly… and you, you put that in the same context of slaveowner/slave, you know, it’s hard to put the word fairly in there at all, right? But that was a different era that they lived in and stuff, right? So… I think in in the [American] States they considered slaves three-fifths of a human. They were property, I guess, right? So, that, this was the norm, I guess, right? So as much as today it’s so crazy to even think of it, right? Now, right…
[DL] Yes, it’s so weird. So, I was like, you know, like I even hear some Black people [say] “I wouldn’t put up with that, I tell you…” You know, you would. You’d be chained, and you know, you couldn’t. It was a different era.
[DL] So… based on what I read today about the relationship between Isaac Allen, who was the slaveowner of my great-great-grandmother, I think it was a good relationship for some reason. Right, based on her being a slave, I’m sure it wasn’t all good, right, but… I kind of, I kind of compare it to a story that I… remember on Oprah years ago, about Thomas Jefferson the President [of the United States]. He… actually had a relationship with one of his slaves, I guess, right? So she got kind of, I guess, I guess it did happen sometimes: the slaveowner fell in love with… the slave, or had… maybe it wasn’t all rape you know, right? So I kind of feel like it was one of those good relationships, I guess, right? I don’t know if they were in love, right, but it was the norm, when you look at someone as being your property, I guess, right? So, I think there were good elements to it, I guess, right, you know, like but the bad as well. If we look at it from a different era, and say like, “how could you see any good in that. She was a slave, right?” So, I think she was a strong woman. I think she had, I think she had a good standing there, right? Within that family tree. And I say that too, because I did a little bit of a, I did a little bit of research and stuff, right? When Isaac Allen, the slaveowner, the lieutenant[-colonel], who fought in the Revolutionary War, [when] he died somewhere in the early 1800s…
[DL] 1806… he left a will with his daughter one of his probably eight children, and in that will he made sure that she [Sabinah] had, she got part of the will. So did… Samuel and, and, George as well. I read that it was two pounds each, and I don’t know how that… translated into…
[MLMcC-B][Correction: the will of] his daughter, Anne Allen. Yes that was a few [years later] about 30 years later [in] 1832. He [Isaac Allen] died in 1806.