Burgess As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 13,802 black Americans with Burgess as their last name. That represented 19% of the total of 73,931 entries.

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

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.

1,139 people named Burgess were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 124 as mixed.

There was a total of 11,015 people with the name.

Burgess 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 2,262 people with the last name Burgess as black within a total of 19,774 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 4,029 people named Burgess as black within a total of 37,034.

Historic Black Figures With The Burgess Surname

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

Frank Burgess

  • Born: 1935
  • From: Eudora, Arkansas
  • Died: 2010

Frank Burgess was a talented basketball player at college and in the Air Force. He was an All- American and all-time leading scorer at Gonzaga University when he graduated in 1961.

He returned to Gonzaga a few years later and obtained a law degree. Burgess worked in private practice for over a decade while also serving as a Magistrate for the Western District of Washington.

President Clinton nominated him as a district judge in 1993. He rose to senior status in 2005.

Burgess In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Burgess surname from military service.

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 Burgess was in August 1890. Jesse Burgess was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1890 at Fort Grant.

Another entry was in October 1914. Charles Burgess was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry.

If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.

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.

Isaac Burgess

One of the earliest entries for Burgess was for Isaac Burgess from Rapides Parish, Louisiana. He enlisted in July 1862 at New Orleans when he was aged 33.

The record shows that Isaac was assigned on March 1863 to the ship Miami.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Pastry Cook. His naval rank was Officers Cook.

James Burgess

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Philadelphia in October 1864. James was aged 19 and was from Charleston, South Carolina.

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.