Bits of a Brooklyn hamlet named for a freed slave

Ephemeral New York

In 1839, Brooklyn was booming—and changing.

The former village had become an actual city just five years earlier. The growing population of approximately 40,000 residents included free black men and women, as slavery had been abolished statewide in 1827.

Amid this transformation, the Lefferts family, one of Kings County’s biggest landowners, began selling off farmland in the Bedford section of the city.

In 1838, an African-American named Henry C. Thompson purchased 32 lots. A year later, he sold two lots at Dean Street and Troy Avenue to James Weeks, a Virginia-born stevedore thought to have been a freed slave.

WeeksvilleBHSmap

So began the settlement of Weeksville, a village of African Americans with its own school, churches, businesses, baseball team (the Weeksville Unknowns), and newspaper, the Freedman’s Torchlight.

Weeksville also had a main street on a former Indian trail called Hunterfly Road. On the map above, part of Hunterfly…

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