Barnett As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 16,715 black Americans with Barnett as their last name. That represented 17% of the total of 95,681 entries.

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

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.

2,018 people named Barnett were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 291 as mixed.

There was a total of 13,079 people with the name.

Barnett 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 4,513 people with the last name Barnett as black within a total of 28,194 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 6,546 people named Barnett as black within a total of 50,662.

Historic Black Figures With The Barnett Surname

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

Ferdinand Lee Barnett

  • Born: 1852
  • From: Nashville, Tennessee
  • Died: 1936

Ferdinand Barnett’s father bought his freedom in 1852. With the advent of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the family moved over the border to Canada in 1859. They returned to Chicago ten years later where Ferdinand attended school.

He qualified as a lawyer in 1878. The previous year, he co-founded the Conservator, a civil-rights journal, along with other notable black leaders like Alexander Clark.

Barnett became known as a public speaker for the advancement of black Americans. He married his fellow journalist and anti-lynching activist, Ida Bell Wells, in 1895.

The following year, Ferdinand was appointed Assistant State Attorney of Illinois, the first African American to hold this position.

Ida Bell Wells Barnett

  • Born: 1862
  • From: Holly Springs, Mississippi
  • Died: 1931

Ida Bell Wells was born into slavery but was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation at an early age. When her parents died from yellow fever, the sixteen-year-old Ida worked as a teacher to keep her siblings together.

An outspoken proponent of black and women’s rights, she sued the railroad company that had thrown her out of a first-class carriage. While working as a teacher, Ida wrote newspaper articles under a pen-name that attacked Jim Crow laws. She co-founded a black newspaper in 1889.

Ida married Ferdinand Barnett in 1895. After a friend was shot by a mob, she started writing strong editorials against lynching. White newspapers published threats against her.

A white mob destroyed her newspaper’s office. She moved to New York and continued to write detailed investigations of lynching.

Barnett In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Barnett surname from 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 Barnett was in December 1876. Hensley Barnett was a Recruit in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in December 1876 at Fort McKavett, Texas.

One of the later entries was in March 1907. George E. Barnett was a Sergeant in the U.S. 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.

John Barnett

One of the earliest entries for Barnett was for John Barnett from Baltimore, Maryland. He enlisted in April 21 1863 at Boston when he was aged 31.

The record shows that John was assigned on April 1 1864 to the ship Princess Royal.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer/Cook. His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.

An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.

Henry Barnett

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at New York in September 11 1864. Henry was aged 21 and was from Savannah, Georgia.

He was assigned to the ship Lancaster on December 31 1865.

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

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

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.

Herman Barnett graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in August 1945. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Herman was from Lockhart, Texas.