The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 62,197 black Americans with Dixon as their last name. That represented 39% of the total of 159,480 entries.
This article compares census numbers before and after the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Dixon in the last three centuries.
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 onwards, all black Americans were included.
4,136 people named Dixon were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 636 as mixed.
There was a total of 20,278 people with the name.
Dixon 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 10,677 people with the last name Dixon as black within a total of 39,491 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 20,691 people named Dixon as black within a total of 72,727.
Historic Black Figures With The Dixon Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Dixon as their last name.
- Born: 1818
- From: Caroline County, Virginia
- Died: 1907
George Dixon was born into slavery. He worked as a drayman and was a devout member of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Fredericksburg. During the Civil War, he and his family escaped to Washington D.C.
Ordained as a Minister in Washington, he returned to Fredericksburg in 1865 to take the position of pastor at the Shiloh Church.
Dixon traveled around Virginia raising funds to restore the church and help the black community. He used the pulpit to promote education and voting.
- Born: 1934
- From: Washington D.C.
- Died: 2000
Although born in D.C., Julian Carey Dixon moved to L.A. in his young teens. He joined the army in 1957 and was a Sergeant when he left three years later. After graduating with a degree in science, he studied law.
Dixon served three terms in the California State Assembly and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1978. He quickly earned a reputation as a shrewd behind-the-scenes negotiator.
He was selected as chair of the House Ethics Committee in 1985 and held the position for six years.
Dixon In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Dixon surname from three different military services:
- Buffalo soldiers
- Black civil war sailors
- Tuskegee airmen
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 Dixon was in February 1867. Charles Dixon was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in February 1867 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
One of the later entries was in December 1914. Harry Dixon was a Private in the Ninth 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.
One of the earliest entries for Dixon was for Chesterfield Dixon from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in July 1861 at Portsmouth when he was aged 28.
The record shows that Chesterfield was assigned on October 1862 to the ship Vandalia.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Steward. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Baltimore in December 1865. William was aged 28 and was from Baltimore, Maryland.
He was assigned to the ship Waxsaw on December 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer. His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.
An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.
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.
Edward Dixon graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in August 1944. He qualified as a bomber pilot. Edward was from Hartford, Connecticut.
Virgil Dixon came from Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated in January 1944 as a bomber pilot.
You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.