Calhoun As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 14,245 black Americans with Calhoun as their last name. That represented 33% of the total of 43,180 entries.

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

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.

1,758 people named Calhoun were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 200 as mixed.

There was a total of 6,819 people with the name.

Calhoun 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 3,088 people with the last name Calhoun as black within a total of 11,066 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 5,518 people named Calhoun as black within a total of 21,307.

Historic Black Figures With The Calhoun Surname

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

Moses Calhoun

  • Born: About 1830
  • From: Georgia
  • Died: Unknown

Moses Calhoun was born enslaved in Georgia. His family was owned by Andrew Calhoun, a nephew of Vice President John C. Calhoun who was staunchly pro-slavery.

Moses was unusual in that he was literate, and he secretly taught his sister and mother to read and write. This was illegal in Georgia.

After emancipation, Moses established several businesses in Atlanta and sent his children to missionary schools. But many of his descendants went north to escape increasing oppression in southern states.

His later descendants include Lena Horne, the renowned black film star. Lena’s daughter has written an acclaimed book about the Calhoun family.

Calhoun In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Calhoun surname from 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 Calhoun was in July 1879. Jessie Calhoun was a Private in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in July 1879 at Fort Stanton.

Another entry was in June 1914. Elijah Calhoun was a Private in the U.S. 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.

John C. Calhoun

One of the earliest entries for Calhoun was for John C. Calhoun from . He enlisted in January 1864 at when he was aged 22.

The record shows that John C. was assigned on December 1864 to the ship A. Houghton.

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.

Henry Calhoun

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Baltimore in May 1864. Henry was aged 28.

He was assigned to the ship Ino on April 1865.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer. 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. Three hundred and fifty-two fought in combat.

James Calhoun graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in March 1944. He qualified as a fighter pilot. James was from Bridgeport, Connecticut.