Gates As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 10,056 black Americans with Gates as their last name. That represented 19% of the total of 52,569 entries.

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

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.

1,486 people named Gates were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 148 as mixed.

There was a total of 13,918 people with the name.

Gates 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 3,044 people with the last name Gates as black within a total of 21,071 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 4,256 people named Gates as black within a total of 30,772.

Historic Black Figures With The Gates Surname

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

Sylvester Gates

  • Born: 1950
  • From: Tampa, Florida

Sylvester Gates attended a segregated school in Orlando where he discovered a love of physics in the 11th grade.

He enrolled in MIT where he followed two degrees with a PhD on supersymmetry.

Gates In Black Military Records

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

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.

James Gates

One of the earliest entries for Gates was for James Gates from Knoxville, Tennessee. He enlisted in July 1864 at Ohio River when he was aged 21.

The record shows that James was assigned on June 1865 to the ship Victory.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Cook. His naval rank was Seaman.

A seaman or “able seaman” in the Navy is a sailor who is not an officer.

William H. Gates

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Washington in February 1864. William H. was aged 16 and was from Georgetown, D.C..

He was assigned to the ship Fuchsia on September 1864.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Waiter. 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.