Fortune As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 4,324 black Americans with Fortune as their last name. That represented 37% of the total of 11,748 entries.

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

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.

438 people named Fortune were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 130 as mixed.

There was a total of 1,817 people with the name.

Fortune 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 1,001 people with the last name Fortune as black within a total of 3,278 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 1,117 people named Fortune as black within a total of 5,546.

Historic Black Figures With The Fortune Surname

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

Robert Fortune

  • Born: 1865
  • From: Bowling Green, Virginia
  • Died: 1938

Robert Fortune was first appointed as a field deputy marshal in 1895 in the Western District. He served until 1907. He later became an attorney and opened a law practice in Oklahoma in 1917.

Fortune lobbied for voting rights in the state. He petitioned for anti-lynching laws and for better treatment of black troops during WWI.

He moved to Phoenix in 1920 and continued to pratice law and lobby for civil rights.

Timothy Thomas Fortune

  • Born: 1856
  • From: Marianna, Florida
  • Died: 1928

Timothy Thomas Fortune was a prominent journalist, editor, and civil rights activist who played a crucial role in the development of the Black press in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Born into slavery in Marianna, Florida, he moved to New York City after the Civil War. Fortune attended Howard University briefly before beginning his journalism career.

Fortune became the editor of notable newspapers such as the New York Globe, the New York Freeman, and the New York Age. He worked with the black church leader Bishop William Derrick on a newspaper and civil rights council.

His editorials and writings were widely circulated, and he earned the nickname “the Dean of Negro Journalists.”

Fortune’s work extended beyond journalism. He co-founded the Afro-American League in 1890. This was a civil rights organization dedicated to fighting against lynching, segregation, and disenfranchisement of African Americans.

The National Association Of Black Journalists recently inducted him into their Hall Of Fame with the special status of legend.

Here are just a few other notable black journalists in the Hall Of Fame:

Fortune In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Fortune surname from several different military services.

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 Fortune was in June 1896. William H Fortune was a Corporal in the Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in June 1896 at Fort Robinson, Nebraska.

One of the later entries was in February 1915. James T Fortune was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry.

If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on and

You have to create an account on either website, but you do not need to pay for the Buffalo Soldiers archive.