The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 11,330 black Americans with Buchanan as their last name. That represented 17% of the total of 66,648 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Buchanan.
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.
1,111 people named Buchanan were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 152 as mixed.
There was a total of 9,697 people with the name.
Buchanan 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 2,181 people with the last name Buchanan as black within a total of 18,012 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 3,348 people named Buchanan as black within a total of 32,433.
Historic Black Figures With The Buchanan Surname
Here is a notable African American in history with Buchanan as their last name.
- Born: 1940
- From: Fuquay, North Carolina
- Died: 2015
Beverly Buchanan’s father was the dean of the Agriculture School at South Carolina State College. She would accompany him when he traveled around the state to advise rural farmers.
She graduated in 1962 with a science degree and obtained a masters in public health. Buchanan was accepted to medical school but decided to pursue her artistic interests.
She attended an art class in 1971 taught by Norman Lewis, a notable black painter. He became one of her mentors. Later in the 1980s, Buchanan started to sculpt in cement and concrete.
Her best-known works are stone pedestals and sculptures depicting shacks – the typical dwellings of the rural poor.
Buchanan In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Buchanan 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 Buchanan was in July 1879. Christopher Buchanan was a Sergeant in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in July 1879 at Tularosa, New Mexico.
Another entry was in January 1915. Hogue Buchanan 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 Buchanan was for James Buchanan from Philadelphia. He enlisted in June 1860 at Philadelphia when he was aged 17.
The record shows that James was assigned on October 1863 to the ship Oneida.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was a rank generally given to seamen in training, who performed various manual tasks and duties aboard a ship under supervision. This could prepare them for promotion to the rank of ordinary seaman.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at New York in June 1865. Simon was aged 20 and was from Philadelphia.
He was assigned to the ship Colorado on October 1866.
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.