Bates As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 18,072 black Americans with Bates as their last name. That represented 19% of the total of 95,622 entries.

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

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.

2,514 people named Bates were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 300 as mixed.

There was a total of 21,849 people with the name.

Bates 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 5,200 people with the last name Bates as black within a total of 34,623 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 6,955 people named Bates as black within a total of 53,355.

Historic Black Figures With The Bates Surname

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

Daisy Bates

  • Born: 1914
  • From: Huttig, Arkansas
  • Died: 1999

When Daisy Gatson was an infant, her mother was murdered by a group of white men who were not brought to justice. She grew up determined to fight for civil rights.

She and her future husband, Lucius Bates, moved to Little Rock and started a weekly newspaper in 1941, the Arkansas State Press. They married a year later.

Daisy Bates joined the NAACP in Little Rock. She was elected president of the Little Rock branch in 1952 and focused the organization’s attention on school desegregation.

Bates personally guided the nine young black students, the Little Rock Nine, who were the first to enroll in a white school in the city in 1957. The Governor sent the National Guard to stop their entry.

Bates arranged for black ministers to escort the students and helped reassure their parents as the children eventually entered the school. To counter the Governor, President Eisenhower sent troops to ensure their safe passage.

Bates was harassed and arrested by officials through her career but never yielded.

Members of the Little Rock Nine

Here are some of the members:

Bates In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Bates 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 Bates was in September 1867. Richard Bates was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in September 1867 at Fort Riley, Kansas, and Washington D.C..

Another entry was in June 1915. Charlie Bates was a Cook in the U.S. 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.

David Bates

One of the earliest entries for Bates was for David Bates from Jefferson County, Kentucky. He enlisted in August 1863 at Vicksburg when he was aged 26.

The record shows that David was assigned on October 1864 to the ship Tyler.

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

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

George Bates

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at New York in September 1864. George was aged 41 and was from New York.

He was assigned to the ship Yucca on June 1865.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Mariner. His naval rank was Seaman.

A seaman in the Navy is a sailor who is not an officer.

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.

George Bates graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in March 1946. He qualified as a bomber pilot. George was from Chicago, Illinois.