Cannon As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 17,415 black Americans with Cannon as their last name. That represented 25% of the total of 71,085 entries.

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

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.

2,039 people named Cannon were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 299 as mixed.

There was a total of 12,548 people with the name.

Cannon 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 4,206 people with the last name Cannon as black within a total of 22,266 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 6,753 people named Cannon as black within a total of 37,248.

Historic Black Figures With The Cannon Surname

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

Rufus Cannon

  • Born: 1847
  • From: Arkansas
  • Died: 1950

Rufe Cannon was sworn in as a U.S. Deputy Marshall in 1891 at Fort Smith, Arkansas. He served most of his law enforcement career in Oklahoma where he was one of a select few African American law officers. Cannon was part Cherokee which was an advantage when communicating with the native tribes in the region.

The year he became a Marshall, the notorious criminal Captain Willie killed a Marshall out of Oklahoma City. Rufe Cannon was part of the posse that captured the fleeing outlaw.

Some years later, Cannon was one of the posse that pursued Bill Doolin, the leader of the Doolin-Dalton Gang (also known as the Wild Bunch). They tracked him down and shot him in 1896.

Cannon In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Cannon 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 Cannon was in April 1887. William Cannon was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in April 1887 at Fort Thomas.

Another entry was in February 1915. Claudius Cannon was a Private in the U.S. Tenth 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.

George W. Cannon

One of the earliest entries for Cannon was for George W. Cannon from Philadelphia. He enlisted in December 1862 at Philadelphia when he was aged 30.

The record shows that George W. was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Lodona.

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

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

Warren Cannon

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Cairo in March 1863. Warren was aged 34 and was from Williamson County, Tennessee.

He was assigned to the ship Pinkney on March 1865.

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.