Barnes As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 63,900 black Americans with Barnes as their last name. That represented 29% of the total of 218,241 entries.

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

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.

5,590 people named Barnes were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 741 as mixed.

There was a total of 38,015 people with the name.

Barnes 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 13,067 people with the last name Barnes as black within a total of 66,765 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 21,549 people named Barnes as black within a total of 109,933.

Historic Black Figures With The Barnes Surname

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

Margaret Elizabeth Barnes

  • Born: 1879
  • From: Monticello, Kentucky
  • Died: 1947

Margaret Sallee graduated from Kentucky State College in 1900 and worked as a schoolteacher in Harrodsburg. She married James Barnes and and settled in Oberlin, Ohio.

Margaret Barnes was a co-founder of the Ohio Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs in the 1930s. One such club was named in her honor and gave scholarships to black students to attend college.

She was made a trustee of Wilberforce University in 1939 and a building on the campus is named after her.

Ernest Barnes

  • Born: 1938
  • From: Durham, North Carolina
  • Died: 2009

Ernie Barnes was introduced to classic art in the wealthy house where his mother worked as a housekeeper. As well as loving to sketch and paint in school, he was captain of the football team.

He went to North Carolina College on a football scholarship. After he graduated, he played professional football in the 1960s.

When Barnes retired from football, the owner of the New York Jets hired him as an artist. Barnes became renowned as a painter of all kinds of sports. He was named the Sports Artist of the 1984 Olympic Games.

Aside from sport, one of his paintings of a dancing scene was used by Marvin Gaye for his 1976 album I Want You. Eddie Murphy owns the original.

Other black artists

Here are some other notable African American painters:

Barnes In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Barnes 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 Barnes was in August 1867. Henry S. Barnes was a Recruit in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1867 at Fort Riley, Kansas and Washington D.C..

One of the later entries was in May 1915. Simon C. Barnes was a Cook in the Tenth 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.

Prince Barnes

One of the earliest entries for Barnes was for Prince Barnes from Edenton, North Carolina. He enlisted in June 1862 at New Bern when he was aged 24.

The record shows that Prince was assigned on June 1863 to the ship Albermarle.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Carpenter. His naval rank was Contraband.

Contraband was a term for black sailors who fled from slavery under the Confederacy.

Michael Barnes

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Plymouth, North Carolina in May 1863. Michael was aged 20 and was from Bertie County, North Carolina.

He was assigned to the ship Whitehead on March 1865.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Farmer. 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.

Gentry Barnes graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in April 1944. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Gentry was from Lawrenceville, Illinois.