Bailey As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 61,125 black Americans with Bailey as their last name. That represented 22% of the total of 277,845 entries.

This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Bailey.

We end with a review of early records of black military service in the United States.

After The Civil War

The 1870 census was the first survey after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1850 and 1860, only free African Americans were recorded in the census. The many enslaved were omitted.

From 1870 onward, all black Americans were included.

5,524 people named Bailey were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 910 as mixed.

There was a total of 41,009 people with the name.

Bailey In The 1900 And 1940 Census

The mixed category was dropped from the census in 1900, so we just need to look at the black numbers this time.

The 1900 census recorded 13,564 people with the last name Bailey as black within a total of 80,160 that year.

By the way, the mixed category returned in the 1910 and 1920 censuses. It was dropped again in 1930, but replaced with extra categories for colored and non-white in a way that seems confusing now.

This changed again in 1940 and we can simply focus on one black category.

The 1940 census recorded 21,938 people named Bailey as black within a total of 142,876.

Historic Black Figures With The Bailey Surname

Here are some notable African Americans in history with Bailey as their last name.

Leonard Bailey

  • Born: 1825
  • From: Washington D.C.
  • Died: 1918

Leonard Bailey was born into an impoverished but free family. He worked as a barber and set up several barbershops in Washington D.C.

He was a successful inventor and established patents on several inventions. This included a folding camp bed and a hernia truss that were used in the army and a stamping machine used by the Postal Service.

The revenue from his inventions made him a wealthy man. He co-founded the Capital Savings Bank in Washington, one of the first black-owned banks in country.

Other pioneering black bankers

These African Americans were also the early founders of banks:

Walter Bailey

  • Born: 1882
  • From: Kewanee, Illinois
  • Died: 1941

Walter Bailey studied at the University of Illinois and graduated in 1904 with a degree in architectural engineering.

He worked for several architectural firms before taking a position at Tuskegee University. While teaching there, he designed a college hall and student dormitory.

Bailey moved to Memphis in 1916 and designed several buildings commissioned by the Knights of Pythias, a black fraternal association.

His largest commission was the National Pythian Temple in Chicago. The building was demolished in 1980.

Bailey In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Bailey surname from three different military services:

  • Buffalo soldiers
  • Black civil war sailors
  • Tuskegee airmen

Buffalo Soldiers

Five regiments for black soldiers were formed during the Civil War. They were known as the Buffalo Soldiers.

Their records are part of the national archive of military monthly returns. The information includes the year and place of birth, where they enlisted, their occupation, and their height.

One of the earliest military entries for Bailey was in December 1867. John Bailey was a Recruit in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in December 1867 at Washington D.C..

One of the later entries was in May 1915. Mack Bailey was a Corporal in the Ninth Cavalry.

If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on and

You have to create an account on either website, but you do not need to pay for the Buffalo Soldiers archive.

Black Civil War Sailors

The National Parks Service has a free archive of African American sailors during the Civil War.

The information includes their age, height, rank, occupation, and where and when they enlisted. It also includes every ship that they served on.

You can search the database on the National Parks website.

Richard W. Bailey

One of the earliest entries for Bailey was for Richard W. Bailey from Middle River, Maryland. He enlisted in October 1861 at New York when he was aged 37.

The record shows that Richard W. was assigned on January 1863 to the ship Pembina.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Servant. His naval rank was Landsman.

“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.

Gabriel Bailey

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at White River Station in September 1864. Gabriel was aged 18 and was from Limestone County, Alabama.

He was assigned to the ship Naumkeag on March 1865.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.

“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.

Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen were military personnel who served at the Tuskegee Army Airfield or related programs.

Nearly one thousand black pilots graduated from the Tuskegee Institute. They flew single-engine fighter planes or twin-engine bombers. 352 fought in combat.

Charles Bailey graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in April 1943. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Charles was from Puntagorda, Florida.

His combat credits said: Downed 1 Fw-190 on January 27, 1944; Downed 1 Fw-190 on July 18, 1944

Terry Bailey came from Richmond, Virginia. He graduated in May 1945 as a fighter pilot.

You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.