Colbert As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 10,433 black Americans with Colbert as their last name. That represented 45% of the total of 22,940 entries.

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

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.

866 people named Colbert were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 98 as mixed.

There was a total of 3,266 people with the name.

Colbert 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 2,205 people with the last name Colbert as black within a total of 5,983 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 3,341 people named Colbert as black within a total of 9,651.

Historic Black Figures With The Colbert Surname

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

William Colbert

  • Born: 1835
  • From: Arkansas
  • Died: 1933

It’s believed that Bill Colbert was part African American and part Choctaw. Colbert was appointed as U.S. Deputy Marshall in 1875 to serve in what was then “Indian Territory” in Arkansas.

He was stationed at Fort Smith and tracked outlaws throughout the region. Colbert was part of the federal posse that tracked the Christian brothers’ gang, a marauding group of gangsters in the territory.

Colbert and five other marshalls surrounded the gang’s hideout in 1896 and engaged in a shootout that killed two of the outlaws. Colbert eventually retired to Oklahoma and lived out a long life in Atoka.

Colbert In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Colbert 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 Colbert was in September 1867. Allen Colbert was a Recruit in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in September 1867 at Fort Riley, Kansas, and Boston, Massachussets.

Another entry was in June 1915. Sheldon Colbert was a Corporal 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.

William H. Colbert

One of the earliest entries for Colbert was for William H. Colbert from Washington, D.C.. He enlisted in September 1862 at Washington when he was aged 20.

The record shows that William H. was assigned on June 1865 to the ship Bermuda.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Head Waiter. His naval rank was Landsman.

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

Henry Colbert

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Baltimore in December 1863. Henry was aged 28 and was from Baltimore, Maryland.

He was assigned to the ship Winona on February 1864.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Hostler. 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. 352 fought in combat.

William Colbert graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in February 1944. He qualified as a fighter pilot. William was from Cumberland, Maryland.