Dickson As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 5,964 black Americans with Dickson as their last name. That represented 17% of the total of 35,312 entries.

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

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.

2,801 people named Dickson were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 393 as mixed.

There was a total of 11,750 people with the name.

Dickson 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 5,237 people with the last name Dickson as black within a total of 18,330 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 5,269 people named Dickson as black within a total of 25,401.

Historic Black Figures With The Dickson Surname

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

Moses Dickson

  • Born: 1824
  • From: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Died: 1901

Moses Dickson spent three years in his teens working as a barber on steamships traveling through the South where he gained his strong anti-slavery views. In 1846, he co-founded an abolitionist group called the Knights of Liberty in St Louis. The aim was to start a slave revolt.

While they planned for a rising, they raised funds for the Underground Railroad and actively helped fugitives escape. One of the men they assisted was Henry “Box” Brown, who was shipped in a wooden box to freedom.

The Knights of Liberty planned an armed insurrection rising for ten years, but Dickson decided that it was prudent to postpone. Dickson also tried to dissuade John Brown from his failed raid on Harpers Ferry.

After joining the Union Army in the Civil War, Dickson became Grand Master of Missouri’s Prince Hall Masons. He co-founded several schools for black children. Along with James Milton Turner, he was a co-founder of the institute that is now known as Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

Dickson In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Dickson 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 Dickson was in August 1882. Philip Dickson was a Recruit in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1882 at Fort Davis, Texas.

One of the later entries was in May 1910. Benjamin J Dickson was a Private in the U.S. 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.

James Dickson

One of the earliest entries for Dickson was for James Dickson from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in August 9 1862 at Philadelphia when he was aged 22.

The record shows that James was assigned on April 1 1863 to the ship New Ironsides.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Barber/Waiter/Brickmaker. 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.

Lawrence Dickson graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in March 1943. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Lawrence was from Bronx, New York.

DeWitt Dickson came from New York, New York. He graduated in December 1944 as a fighter pilot.

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

Dickson 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 are over 4,260 records for Dickson in their archives. Here are some of the first names:

  • Cordelia
  • Edmon
  • Julius
  • Pooley