Craig As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 14,014 black Americans with Craig as their last name. That represented 15% of the total of 92,507 entries.

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

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.

2,150 people named Craig were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 368 as mixed.

There was a total of 18,857 people with the name.

Craig 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 4,139 people with the last name Craig as black within a total of 33,289 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 5,566 people named Craig as black within a total of 52,954.

Historic Black Figures With The Craig Surname

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

Nellie Craig

  • Born: 1881
  • From: Oxford, Ohio
  • Died: 1969

Nellie Craig attended college for two years at what was then called the Ohio State Normal School. The institution was founded in 1902 as a teacher education school. It is now part of Miami University.

Nellie graduated with a teaching degree in 1905. This made here the first African American to graduate from Miami University.

Nellie taught in Oxford’s public schools. When she married James Walker in 1911, the couple settled in Cleveland and established a tire business.

In 2020, Miami University honored the Nellie by renaming one of their buildings the Nellie Craig Walker Hall.

This old photo of her at college is very grainy – that’s because it is from a newspaper in the early 1900s:

Craig In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Craig 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 Craig was in January 1867. Abraham Craig was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in January 1867 at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.

Another entry was in June 1915. Willie Craig 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 L. Craig

One of the earliest entries for Craig was for George L. Craig from Shelby County, Kentucky. He enlisted in January 1863 at Cincinnati when he was aged 24.

The record shows that George L. was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Prairie Bird.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Boatman. His naval rank was 2nd Class Fireman.

Firemen in the Navy worked in the engine room and with other machinery.

Caleb Craig

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Tallahatchi River in March 1864. Caleb was aged 22 and was from Black Bayou, Mississippi.

He was assigned to the ship Romeo on March 1863.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Cotton Picker. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.

“1st Class Boy” was a rank generally given to seamen in training, who performed various manual tasks and duties aboard a ship under supervision. This could prepare them for promotion to the rank of ordinary seaman.

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.

Charles Craig graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in February 1944. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Charles was from Detroit, Michigan.

Lewis Craig came from Ashville, North Carolina. He graduated in April 1944 as a fighter pilot.

You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.