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Chapter 22

Remember Liss Banner


“Free Elizabeth”

Liss, now using her given name of Elizabeth, joined a church and eventually began working as a free woman in the grand Fort Neck House—one of the largest and most elegant estates on Long Island. She appears in the 1790 United States census as “Free Elizabeth,” though she still did not have her legal manumission. Harry, meanwhile, was sold to a local man with very specific provisions to help him achieve his freedom ahead of the dates now established by gradual abolition laws in New York. Eventually, though there were many barriers caused by their dual ownership by both Samuel and James Townsend, Liss and her sister Hannah finally gained their freedom under the law on September 3, 1803. Record show that Liss continued living in Oyster Bay as a free person for the rest of her life.