Bryant As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 69,398 black Americans with Bryant as their last name. That represented 36% of the total of 192,773 entries.

This article compares census numbers before and after the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Bryant in the last three centuries.

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 onwards, all black Americans were included.

6,149 people named Bryant were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 710 as mixed.

There was a total of 26,873 people with the name.

Bryant 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 16,103 people with the last name Bryant as black within a total of 51,181 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 26,556 people named Bryant as black within a total of 91,970.

Historic Black Figures With The Bryant Surname

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

Isabella Bryant

  • Born: 1890
  • From: Hamilton, Ontario
  • Died: Kentucky

Isabella Bryant left Canada in 1915 to live near her sister in Rochester, New York. The Department of Labor tried to deport her two years later as an “undesirable alien” (she was unmarried with two children).

But Isabella knew that her father was from Kentucky and had been emancipated. Despite moving to Canada, he hadn’t taken Canadian citizenship. Therefore, emancipation made him a U.S. citizen.

Isabella hired a lawyer who successfully argued her case in 1919 that she was an American citizen.

William Bryant

  • Born: 1911
  • From: Wetumpka, Alabama
  • Died: 2005

William Bryant graduated with the highest marks from Howard University Law School in 1936. He fought in World War II and left the army in 1947 as Lieutenant Colenel. He served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C. in the early 1950s

He practiced as a criminal defense lawyer through the late 1950s and early 60s. while also teaching law at Howard.

Bryant became the first black Chief Judge of D.C.’s district court. He was the first judge to order Nixon to surrender the Watergate audio tapes.

Bryant was twenty-five years older than Barbara Jordan, an African American lawyer who entered politics. She was a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of Richard Nixon.

Bryant In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Bryant surname from three 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 Bryant was in August 1867. Jessey Bryant was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1867 at Fort Riley, Kansas.

One of the later entries was in December 1914. Melvin Bryant was a member of the 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 Bryant

One of the earliest entries for Bryant was for William Bryant from Washington, D.C.. He enlisted in August 1861 at Boson when he was aged 23.

The record shows that William was assigned on January 1863 to the ship Flag.

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

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

Richard Bryant

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at New Orleans in May 1864. Richard was aged 27 and was from Savannah, Georgia.

He was assigned to the ship Tallapoosa on December 1865.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Farmer. 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.

Grady Bryant graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in June 1945. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Grady was from Los Angeles, California.

Joseph Bryant came from Dowagiac, Michigan. He graduated in August 1945 as a bomber pilot.

There was one more Bryant there. You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.