The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 3,951 black Americans with Brewster as their last name. That represented 20% of the total of 19,564 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Brewster.
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.
307 people named Brewster were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 38 as mixed.
There was a total of 4,214 people with the name.
Brewster 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 628 people with the last name Brewster as black within a total of 6,150 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 1,242 people named Brewster as black within a total of 9,526.
Historic Black Figures With The Brewster Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Brewster as their last name.
- Born: 1930
- From: Muskoga, Oklahoma
Xernona Brewster married Ed Clayton in 1957. Both she and her husband worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, and Xernona was a close friend of Coretta Scott King.
Xernona was behind the scenes as an organizer of civil rights programs to push desegregation in Atlanta in the 1960s. Under her influence, a Georgia Grand Dragon (a high leadership position within the KKK) denounced the Klan.
She hosted a television talk show called the Xernona Clayton Show and then worked for Turner Broadcasting in senior management.
Brewster In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Brewster surname from military service.
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 Brewster was in October 1868. William Brewster was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in October 1868 at Fort Arbuckle.
One of the later entries was in August 1880. Richard Brewster was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry.
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.
One of the earliest entries for Brewster was for Frederick Brewster from Granby, Connecticut. He enlisted in September 11 1863 at New York when he was aged 30.
The record shows that Frederick was assigned on January 1 1864 to the ship Ino.
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.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Natchez in January 28 1864. Alfred was aged 34 and was from Natchez, Mississippi.
He was assigned to the ship Benton on March 31 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Cook. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.