Who was Private Cuff Liberty?

In 2020, the Daughters of the American Revolution launched the E Pluribus Unum Educational Initiative in order to increase awareness of under represented patriots, including indigenous, African American, and female patriots. Connecticut’s African American patriots are currently named in some of their publications, including Forgotten Patriots. Yet, there is much more to their stories.

According to the Compiled Military Service Records available on Fold3, Private Cuff Liberty served in the 6th, the 4th and 2nd Regiments of the Connecticut Continental Line. The pattern – particularly the placement in Captain Humphrey’s segregated company of the 4th – was common among African Americans serving on the Continental Line. He enlisted in 1778 and was discharged in 1783. He later applied for and received bounty land.

Outside of his service, was the history of Private Liberty? According to a Hartford Courant article, he was enslaved by William Ward of Middletown and manumitted in 1776 after purchasing his freedom. The same article indicates that he lived in Middlefield parish until his enlistment. These manumissions are now online and should be accessible by using the FamilySearch catalog to search the Middletown deeds (affiliate access only).

Where did he go after the War? As of right now, we don’t know. He registered his bounty land in 1800, indicating that he lived at least that long. It would be helpful to know on what property he paid taxes (the records of which are still at the Middletown town clerk)- any land sales might indicate next steps.

Published by Bryna O'Sullivan

Proprietor of Charter Oak Genealogy, Bryna O'Sullivan specializes in assisting clients with lineage society applications and with French to English genealogical translations.

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