The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 91,458 black Americans with Evans as their last name. That represented 26% of the total of 355,593 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Evans.
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.
8,127 people named Evans were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 1,550 as mixed.
There was a total of 58,063 people with the name.
Evans 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 20,355 people with the last name Evans as black within a total of 108,803 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 33,227 people named Evans as black within a total of 186,212.
Historic Black Figures With The Evans Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Evans as their last name.
- Born: 1848
- From: Fayette County, Tennessee
- Died: 1914
Greene E. Evans was born on a plantation of a wealthy slave owner in Tennessee. As a boy during the Civil War, he encountered a group of Union soldiers who helped him get to freedom in Indianapolis.
He returned to Memphis after Emancipation and attended Fisk University. He funded his studies by working as a groundskeeper.
At college, Evans toured as a member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in the early 1870s. After he graduated, he worked in Memphis as a deputy wharf-master and as a census taker. These were both prestigious posts that required political patronage.
Evans was elected as a city councilman in 1877 and was also a mail agent for the Robert E. Lee steamship company. He was elected to the State Assembly in 1884. He and his family eventually moved to Chicago.
Other early Tennessee Assemblymen include Leon Howard (elected in 1882).
- Born: 1872
- From: Aiken, South Carolina
- Died: 1935
Matilda Evans grew up working the fields in South Carolina. She went to a school established by the Quaker abolitionist Martha Schofield, who spotted her intellectual talents.
Schofield helped Evans financially to attend Oberlin College. After she graduated in 1891, Evans attended the Woman’s Medical College in Philadelphia, again with help from Schofield.
Evans qualified as a doctor in 1897 and opened a practice in Columbia, South Carolina. She was the first black woman to run a practice in South Carolina.
Evans’ services included gynecology and obstetrics. She was able to treat white women of means for enough fees to cover the treatment for her black patients for a nominal amount.
Matilda Evans founded St Luke’s Hospital and Nurse Training School in Columbia. The School of Nursing is still in operation today.
Here are some other black female pioneers in medicine:
Evans In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Evans 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 Evans was in August 1867. Isaac Evans was a Recruit in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1867 at Fort Leavenworth and Washington D.C.
One of the later entries was in January 1915. Ellwood Evans was a Major in the 1st Squadron.
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 Evans was for Arthur Evans from . He enlisted in May 1861 at New York when he was aged 1839.
The record shows that Arthur was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Wabash.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Turner. That means his work included assembling tools and machinery.
His naval rank was Landsman. “Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
William W. Evans
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at New London in July 1862. William W. was aged 17 and was from New London, Connecticut.
He was assigned to the ship Susquehanna on June 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Steward. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.
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.
Frank Evans graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in June 1944. He qualified as a bomber pilot. Frank was from Los Angeles, California.