Bass As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 13,992 black Americans with Bass as their last name. That represented 25% of the total of 57,044 entries.

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

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

After Emancipation

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.

1,786 people named Bass were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 496 as mixed.

There was a total of 7,911 people with the name.

Bass 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 4,115 people with the last name Bass as black within a total of 15,811 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 5,773 people named Bass as black within a total of 29,722.

Historic Black Figures With The Bass Surname

Here is a notable African American in history with Bass as their last name.

Charlotta Spears Bass

  • Born: About 1880
  • From: Sumter, South Carolina
  • Died: 1969

During her twenties, Charlotta Spears made a living in Rhode Island by selling subscriptions for a local black newspaper. She moved to California for health reasons and started selling subscriptions for the California Eagle, another black newspaper.

When the editor died, she took over role and eventually took out a loan to buy the newspaper for 50 dollars.

Charlotta hired a new editor in 1912 called Joseph Bass. They married, and together they built up the Eagle to be the the biggest black newspaper on the West Coast.

Charlotta Bass was a committed activist for civil rights and was threatened by the KKK with violence and lawsuits.

As well as being the first black woman to own a newspaper in the U.S., she also became the first to be nominated for Vice President by the left-wing Progressive Party.

Bass In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Bass surname from military service.

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 Bass was in February 1876. Emmanuel Bass was a Private in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in February 1876 at Rancho Hills, Texas.

Another entry was in October 1913. Walter Bass was a Private 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.

Holloway Bass

One of the earliest entries for Bass was for Holloway Bass from Camden County, North Carolina. He enlisted in August 1859 at Norfolk when he was aged 23.

The record shows that Holloway was assigned on to the ship .

His naval rank was Landsman.

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

William Bass

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Nashville in November 1863. William was aged 19 and was from Wilson County, Tennessee.

He was assigned to the ship Reindeer on March 1864.

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

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