San Diego, CA – Dolores’s parents had passed for white never told Dolores the truth about her black ancestry. Dolores eventually discovered both her parents had a black parent.
When she was 17, Dolores stumbled on the Nile River on a map of Africa. After many years of research, she found in her family tree William Van Rensalier, a direct descendant of this Prince Abdul. William had been a conductor on the Underground Railroad and boarded with a wealthy spice merchant, his friend Josiah Huntoon.
“Before and during the Civil War, both black and white abolitionists risked their lives hiding fugitive slaves in the cellars as part of the famed Underground Railroad,” says Dolores.
In 1995, Dolores’ documentation would help save and historically preserve the Huntoon Van Rensalier Underground Railroad site at the vacant lot at 125 Broadway in Paterson, NJ.
“When I went to the site thinking the house was still there. I was so excited because I would be able to actually touch my hand on the walls where my black ancestor once lived,” recalls Dolores. “When I found it was by then a vacant lot, it devastated me. I vowed to publicly honor this hidden, great man.
Dolores would later become founder and president of the Huntoon Van Rensalier Underground Railroad Foundation, leading the board to fund and build a beautiful monument at this sacred site. It was completed in 2014. The story is recounted in Dolores’ book Bridge Street to Freedom.
For more information on Huntoon-Van Rensalier Underground Railroad Foundation, visit www.hvugrr.org
Bridge Street to Freedom: Landmarking a Station on the Underground Railroad is available on Amazon