The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 450 black Americans with Churchwell as their last name. That represented 16% of the total of 2,758 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Churchwell.
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 onwards, all black Americans were included.
124 people named Churchwell were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 45 as mixed.
There was a total of 463 people with the name.
Churchwell 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 140 people with the last name Churchwell as black within a total of 739 that year.
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 140 people named Churchwell as black within a total of 1,368.
Historic Black Figures With The Churchwell Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Churchwell as their last name.
- Born: 1917
- From: Clifton, Tennesse
- Died: 2009
Robert Churchwells’ family moved from Clifton to Nashville in his youth. He wrote for his high school newspaper and gained a keen interest in journalism.
After serving in the army duing WWII, Churchwell studied English at Fisk University.
When he was hired by the Nashville Banner in 1950, he became the first black journalist working for a major Southern newspaper. He was known as the Jackie Robinson of Journalism for breaking that color barrier.
In the early years, Churchwell wasn’t allowed sit in the newsroom. He wrote at home and walked to the office with his articles.
But he covered the Civil Rights Era with tenacity. The Nashville Chapter of the NAACP honored him in 1981 when he retired.
Here are some more notable black journalists:
Churchwell In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research.
I couldn’t find anyone of the name of Churchwell in the archives of the Buffalo Soldiers – the black army regiments that were formed during the Civil War.
However, I located one entry in the archive of African American sailors that is kept by the National Parks Service.
The information in this archive includes tage, 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.
The entry I found was for Robert Churchwell from Portsmouth, Virginia. He enlisted in October 1858 at Norfolk when he was aged 28.
His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.