The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 16,144 black Americans with Cobb as their last name. That represented 25% of the total of 65,125 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Cobb.
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.
2,872 people named Cobb were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 364 as mixed.
There was a total of 14,534 people with the name.
Cobb 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 5,062 people with the last name Cobb as black within a total of 22,999 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 7,161 people named Cobb as black within a total of 36,685.
Historic Black Figures With The Cobb Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Cobb as their last name.
- Born: 1943
- From: Washington D.C.
Charles Cobb was raised in Springfield, Massachussetts. He attended Howard University from 1961 where he got involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
Cobb started working as a journalist in the early 1960s and worked for black newspapers like the Southern Courier. He wrote extensively on social justice and civil rights.
Cobb was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Black Journalists in 2008.
Here are just a few other notable black journalists in the Hall Of Fame:
Jewel Plummer Cobb
- Born: 1924
- From: Chicago, Illinois
- Died: 2017
Jewel Plummer Cobb’s father was the first black medical student to graduate from Cornell University’s medical school. Her father’s father in turn had become a pharmacist after gaining his freedom from slavery.
Jewel made the most of these educational riches. She studied biology at Talladega College and gained her PhD from New York in cell physiology in 1950.
Her many academic positions include being the first black Dean at Connecticut College. She became President of California State University in 1981.
Cobb’s research on melanin and skin damage greatly contributed to cancer research.
Cobb In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Cobb surname from three different military services:
- Buffalo soldiers
- Black civil war sailors
- Tuskegee airmen
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 Cobb was in December 1898. Rufus E Cobb was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry.
One of the later entries was in April 1899. Andrew Cobb was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry.
If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
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 Cobb was for Jack Cobb from Sonoval, Tennessee. He enlisted in November 1861 at Memphis when he was aged 19.
The record shows that Jack was assigned on October 1863 to the ship New Era.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Waiter. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at St Inigoes in May 1864. Lewis was aged 32 and was from Essex County, Virginia.
He was assigned to the ship Resolute on April 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Cartman. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
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. 352 fought in combat.
Wilson Cobb graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in June 1945. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Wilson was from Gordonsville, Virginia.