The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 12,148 black Americans with Farmer as their last name. That represented 17% of the total of 69,617 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Farmer.
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.
1,637 people named Farmer were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 208 as mixed.
There was a total of 12,017 people with the name.
Farmer 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 3,205 people with the last name Farmer as black within a total of 20,642 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 4,600 people named Farmer as black within a total of 37,381.
Historic Black Figures With The Farmer Surname
Here is a notable African American in history with Farmer as their last name.
- Born: 1920
- From: Marshall, Texas
- Died: 1999
The Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode on segregated buses in the South from 1961. They sat in mixed groups to challenge seating segregation.
If they weren’t arrested on the bus, they would disembark and sit in segregated cafes and terminals. The activists endured violent arrests from local police who would also let gathering mobs attack them.
Jim Farmer was a founding member of CORE who was appointed director of the organization in February 1961. He revived a 1947 strategy of using travel to peacefully break segregation laws and devised the term “Freedom Ride”.
Farmer was on the first ride from Washington D.C. but had to leave the group to attend his father’s funeral.
Despite the onslaught of violence, Farmer rejoined in Montgomery, Alabama. He was arrested and imprisoned in Jackson, Mississippi.
Farmer In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Farmer surname from military service.
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 Farmer was in October 1867. William Farmer was a Recruit in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in October 1867 at Washington, D.C..
Another entry was in September 1912. Charles C. Farmer was a Captain in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry.
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 Farmer was for Stephen Farmer from Newark, New Jersey. He enlisted in July 1863 at New York when he was aged 22.
The record shows that Stephen was assigned on July 1864 to the ship Lackawanna.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Mariner/Chairmaker. His naval rank was Seaman.
A seaman or “able seaman” in the Navy is a sailor who is not an officer.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at New York in June 1863. Charles was aged 40 and was from New Bedford, Massachusetts.
He was assigned to the ship Water Witch on September 1863.
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.