Bowman As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 14,301 black Americans with Bowman as their last name. That represented 14% of the total of 105,007 entries.

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

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.

2,197 people named Bowman were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 399 as mixed.

There was a total of 21,088 people with the name.

Bowman 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 3,972 people with the last name Bowman as black within a total of 35,750 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 5,369 people named Bowman as black within a total of 58,097.

Historic Black Figures With The Bowman Surname

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

Amos Bowman

  • Born: 1911
  • From: New York
  • Died: 1987

Amos Bowman obtained his law degree from Howard University in 1941. He opened a legal practice and was also the legal counsel for the New York branch of the NAACP.

Bowman was appointed an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan in 1951. He became a Civil Court Judge in 1959. He was elected to the state Supreme Court ten years later in 1969. He was re-elected in 1982 and died a few years before his fourteen-year term expired.

His daughter, Janice Bowman Windham, became a Housing Court judge in 1985. This made them the first African American father and daughter to be judges simultaneously.

Bowman In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Bowman 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 Bowman was in July 1874. William Bowman was a Sergeant in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in July 1874 at Fort Stockton, Texas.

Another entry was in August 1914. John Bowman 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.

William Bowman

One of the earliest entries for Bowman was for William Bowman from Mount Holly, New Jersey. He enlisted in October 1861 at New York when he was aged 20.

The record shows that William was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Powhatan.

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

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

Cornelius Bowman

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Yorktown in May 1864. Cornelius was aged 26 and was from Charles City, Virginia.

He was assigned to the ship Mystic on January 1865.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Boatman. His naval rank was also Landsman.

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.

James Bowman graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in February 1944. He qualified as a fighter pilot. James was from Des Moines, Iowa.

Leroy Bowman came from Sumter, South Carolina. He graduated in March 1943 as a fighter pilot.

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