The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 29,909 black Americans with Burton as their last name. That represented 27% of the total of 110,529 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Burton.
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.
3,673 people named Burton were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 550 as mixed.
There was a total of 18,444 people with the name.
Burton 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 8,081 people with the last name Burton as black within a total of 33,948 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 11,278 people named Burton as black within a total of 56,266.
Historic Black Figures With The Burton Surname
Here is a notable African American in history with Burton as their last name.
Walter Moses Burton
- Born: 1840
- From: North Carolina
- Died: 1913
Walter Moses Burton was born enslaved in North Carolina. He was sent to Texas when he was ten to work on a plantation in Fort Bend County. He was able to save part of his earnings and buy some of the plantation land when he was emancipated.
Burton joined the Republican Party and was elected as a sheriff in 1869. He was the first African American to be elected as sheriff in the entire country.
He was then elected to the Texas state senator and served for nearly ten years. When he returned to farming in 1883, there wouldn’t be another black Texas state senator until Barbara Jordan in 1966.
Burton In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Burton 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 Burton was in September 1867. John Burton was a Recruit in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in September at Fort Riley, Kansas, and at Baltimore, Maryland.
A later entry was in May 1915 during the First World War. Columbus E. Burton was a Corporal 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 Burton was for Peter Burton from Philadelphia. He enlisted in September 1861 at New Bedford when he was aged 37.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Ship Cooper. His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.
An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at New York in October 1861. Isaiah was aged 27 and was from Brooklyn, New York.
He was assigned to the ship Nyack on October 1861.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Seaman/Cook. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.