Garner As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 16,960 black Americans with Garner as their last name. That represented 23% of the total of 74,324 entries.

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

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.

1,911 people named Garner were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 258 as mixed.

There was a total of 10,263 people with the name.

Garner 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 4,525 people with the last name Garner as black within a total of 20,074 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 6,780 people named Garner as black within a total of 37,794.

Historic Black Figures With The Garner Surname

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

Barbara Garner

Barbara Garnder was one of the founding members of the National Black Nurses Association.

She met with a leading group of nurses in 1970 to agree over a dinner of fried chicken on the formation and terms of the new ogranization.

Garner In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Garner surname from military service.

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 Garner was in June 1892. Peter H Garner was a Private in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in June 1892 at Camp Bettens, Wyoming.

Another entry was in November 1914. Cornelius Garner was a Private in the U.S. 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.

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.

Walter Garner

One of the earliest entries for Garner was for Walter Garner from Newport, Virginia. He enlisted in May 1859 at Philadelphia when he was aged 44.

The record shows that Walter was assigned on to the ship .

His occupation before enlisting was as a Coachman. His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.

An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.

John Garner

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Washington in January 1864. John was aged 18 and was from Washington, D.C..

He was assigned to the ship Fuchsia on September 1864.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Teamster. His naval rank was 2nd Class Boy.

A teamster in the 19th century was someone who drove a wagon behind a team of horses, mules, or oxen.

“2nd 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 1st class boy and then to ordinary seaman.