Carpenter As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 11,028 black Americans with Carpenter as their last name. That represented 8% of the total of 129,898 entries.

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

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.

1,782 people named Carpenter were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 279 as mixed.

There was a total of 31,538 people with the name.

Carpenter 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 3,540 people with the last name Carpenter as black within a total of 48,581 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 4,343 people named Carpenter as black within a total of 72,981.

Historic Black Figures With The Carpenter Surname

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

Eliza Carpenter

  • Born: 1851
  • From: Virginia
  • Died: 1924

Eliza Carpenter was born enslaved and was sold twice before getting her freedom after emancipation. As a teenager, she worked for a race horse trainer in Kentucky.

She then spent some time in Kansas before settling in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Carpenter owned, trained, and rode race horses in Ponca.

She won several races as a jockey, a profession that was highly unusual for a woman in that era – let alone a black woman.

She also trained thoroughbreds for other owners. She ran her own stables, making her one of few black stable owners in the region.

Carpenter In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Carpenter 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 Carpenter was in January 1867. Louis H. Carpenter was a Captain in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in January 1867 at Louisville, Kentucky.

Another entry was in August 1914. Donaldson Carpenter 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 H. Carpenter

One of the earliest entries for Carpenter was for George H. Carpenter from Brandywine, Delaware. He enlisted in June 1864 at Philadelphia when he was aged 27.

The record shows that George H. was assigned on September 1865 to the ship John Adams.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Butcher/Laborer. His naval rank was Landsman.

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

William H. Carpenter

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Providence in October 1862. William H. was aged 31 and was from Charlestown, Rhode Island.

He was assigned to the ship Sabine on January 1865.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Mariner. His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.

An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.