The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 395 black Americans with DeCosta as their last name. That represented 12% of the total of 3,280 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named DeCosta.
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.
22 people named DeCosta were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 3 as mixed.
There was a total of 189 people with the name.
DeCosta 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 52 people with the last name Decosta as black within a total of 523 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 123 people named DeCosta as black within a total of 1,441.
Historic Black Figures With The DeCosta Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Decosta as their last name.
Anna DeCosta Banks
- Born: 1869
- From: Charleston, South Carolina
- Died: 1930
Anna DeCosta married Isaiah Banks in the late 1880s while studying at Hampton Institute in Virgnia. After graduating, she studied at Hampton’s nurse training hospital.
She became hugely influential in healthcare for African Americans in Charleston and beyond. Anna served as the Superintendent of Nurses at the training hospital for thirty-two years.
DeCosta In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Some of the earliest for African Americans date back to the Civil War.
President Lincoln authorized the use of “colored troops” in combat in the Union Army in 1863, although some black units had fought before then.
The records show that George W DeCosta was in the 54th US Colored Infantry. He was aged 30 in a military record of May 1863.
DeCosta In The Freedmen’s Bureau Records
The Freedmen’s Bureau was established after the Civil War to help newly freed African Americans. You can read more in our article on researching the Freedmen archives.
There is a handful of records for DeCosta in the archives. Here are some of the first names: