Cox As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 31530 black Americans with Cox as their last name. That represented 12% of the total of 261,231 entries.

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

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.

5,829 people named Cox were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 827 as mixed.

There was a total of 48,107 people with the name.

Cox 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 9,592 people with the last name Cox as black within a total of 85,606 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 12,165 people named Cox as black within a total of 146,486.

Historic Black Figures With The Cox Surname

Here are some notable African Americans in history with Cox as their last name.

Elbert Frank Cox

  • Born: 1895
  • From: Evansville, Indiana
  • Died: 1969

Elbert Cox was a talented young violinist and was offered a scholarship to the Prague Conservatory of Music. But his greater love was mathematics, which he entered Indiana University Bloomington to study. He also studied the sciences, languages, philosophy, and history. The straight-A student graduated in 1917.

Cox enlisted and fought in World War I. After the war, he taught maths at high school. In 1919, he secured the position of professor of natural sciences at Shaw University in North Carolina.

Cox enrolled in Cornell University’s doctoral program in 1922. When he was awarded a Ph.D. in 1925, he was the first African American to gain one in mathematics.

He joined the faculty at Howard University in 1930. Of his many graduate students, William Claytor was the third black American to get a Ph.D. in mathematics.

Other Black Mathematicians

Here are some other early mathematicians:

Benjamin Elton Cox

  • Born: 1931
  • From: Whiteville, Tennessee
  • Died: 2011

Elton Cox had to leave high school to help support his family of fifteen siblings. After he got his diploma when he was twenty, he studied sociology at an AME college in North Carolina and got a degree in divinity from Howard University.

Cox became a pastor in High Point, North Carolina, in 1958. He was active in the NAACP’s campaign to desegregate the local schools and was a strong proponent of non-violent protest. The NAACP leaders asked him in 1960 to help organize the Freedom Rides.

The Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode on segregated buses in the South from 1961. They sat in mixed groups to challenge seating segregation. If they weren’t arrested on the bus, they would disembark and sit in segregated cafes and terminals.

The activists endured violent arrests from local police who would also let gathering mobs attack them. Many of the Freedom Riders were young college students.

Cox arrived in Washington wearing his official pastor attire to show that divine guidance was present. As Cox traveled around the South to preach non-violent protest, the preacher became known as Beltin’ Elton.

Cox was part of the Freedom Ride from Missouri to Louisiana in July 1961. He was arrested later that year in Baton Rouge. His arrest was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court.

Cox In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Cox 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 Cox was in August 1867. James Cox was a Sergeant in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1867 at Fort Harker.

One of the later entries was in April 1914. Randolph N. Cox was a Private in the U.S. Ninth 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.

Isaac Cox

One of the earliest entries for Cox was for Isaac Cox from Washington, District of Columbia. He enlisted in May 17 1861 at New York when he was aged 25.

The record shows that Isaac was assigned on January 1 1900 to the ship .

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

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

Landon Cox

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Jacob Bell/Washington in May 18 1864. Landon was aged 16 and was from Richmond Co., Virginia.

He was assigned to the ship Jacob Bell on March 31 1865.

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.

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.

Hannibal Cox graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in April 1944. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Hannibal was from Chicago, Illinois.