Fleming As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 20,638 black Americans with Fleming as their last name. That represented 23% of the total of 90,677 entries.

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

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.

2,065 people named Fleming were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 232 as mixed.

There was a total of 14,710 people with the name.

Fleming 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 3,937 people with the last name Fleming as black within a total of 27,303 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 7,736 people named Fleming as black within a total of 54,106.

Historic Black Figures With The Fleming Surname

Here is a notable African American in history with Fleming as their last name.

Louise Fleming

  • Born: 1862
  • From: Fleming Island, Florida
  • Died: 1899

Louisa Fleming was born enslaved on a plantation in Clay County a few years before emancipation. She was an exceptional student and graduated at the top of her class from Shaw University.

After teaching for several years in Florida, she travelled to teach in the Congo in 1887. She returned to the U.S. in 1891 to study medicine.

She graduated as a doctor in 1895 and travelled again to the Congo to practice. She died after contracting sleeping sickness.

William Fleming

  • Born: 1934
  • From: Durham, North Carolina

William Fleming graduated with a degree in mathematics from North Carolina Central University in 1956.

He joined the maths faculty at Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis in 1957 and spent 15 years there. During that time, he received a PhD from the University of Idaho.

In 1972, he was appointed chairman of the maths department of his undergraduate college. He spent twenty-five years building the maths and computer science departments.

Fleming In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Fleming 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 Fleming was in November 1867. Peter Fleming was a Recruit in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in November 1867 at Wilmington, Delaware.

Another entry was in January 1915. Robert J. Fleming was a Major 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.

Joseph Fleming

One of the earliest entries for Fleming was for Joseph Fleming from Norfolk, Virginia. He enlisted in December 1863 at Norfolk when he was aged 21.

The record shows that Joseph was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Commander Morris.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer/Steward. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.

“1st Class Boy” was a rank generally given to seamen in training, who performed various manual tasks and duties aboard a ship under supervision. This could prepare them for promotion to the rank of ordinary seaman.

James Fleming

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Philadephia in August 1864. James was aged 24 and was from Baltimore, Maryland.

He was assigned to the ship Constitution on April 1866.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Cook. 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.

Rutledge Fleming graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in March 1945. He qualified as a bomber pilot. Rutledge was from Nashville, Tennessee.