After Emancipation: Wilson Rantous and Douglaston

Discover the grassroots movement of a 19th-century free Black community in Jamaica, Queens.

After Emancipation: Wilson Rantous and Douglaston

Queens, New York 11692, United States

Created By: King Manor Museum

Tour Information

In 1827, the year slavery officially ended in New York State, a free Black man named Wilson Rantous purchased about $250 worth of land in the Village of Jamaica, Long Island. His purpose? To develop a space for the local Black community to come together and prosper through fellowship, education, and civic engagement. Find out more about the life of Wilson Rantous and discover a grassroots movement in the early years of the United States, working toward one of the first Black voting rights conventions in New York State and whose echoes are still felt in the community today.

Researcher: Michael Colon
Educators: Brittany Lester and Roberto Chavez

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

King Manor (built 1755, 1790, 1810) On February 9th, 1799, and March 20th, 1799, both the Assembly & Senate of New York State passed the Act of the gradual abolition of slavery. With this act, New York State began abolishing the institu... Read more
Tree of Life (2019) This mural is a work directed by artist Marissa Molina, with Peach Tao and Will DeNatale, through The Thrive Collective, painted throughout the summer and unvieled in August of 2019. Read more about the artwork and Thr... Read more
Loew's Valencia Theatre (1929) Once called the "Showplace of Queens," the Valencia was the heart of the vibrant commercial center in Jamaica, Queens  -- the borough's largest and most famous remaining movie palace. Designed by theater ar... Read more
Wilson Rantous (1807-1861) Not much is known about the free Black community in Jamaica directly following emancipation, but we do know that Troy and Catherine Rantous and their sons, Wilson & Troy were part of it. Wilson Rantous is sa... Read more
Information on the development of Douglaston during its earlier years is sparse, as the dominant white owned newspapers rarely covered the community, but the emergence of Black-centric newspapers began to change that. On January 7, 1837, ... Read more
Union Hall Academy  Union Hall Academy itself no longer exists, but its historic site is now across the street from a York College entrance and the location of what was the Union Hall Street Station on the Long Island Railroad. Today, Uni... Read more
Grace Episcopal Church (founded 1733; current building, 1862) This Gothic Revival church building was built during the American Civil War, but the church itself is much older and its buildings have been on this location since 1733. Burials ... Read more
The Legacy of Black Activism in Jamaica, Queens Today King Manor Museum's mission is to interpret founding father Rufus King’s political legacy and antislavery history to teach critical thinking for a healthier democracy -- something we... Read more


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