Gibbs As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 18,406 black Americans with Gibbs as their last name. That represented 28% of the total of 65,064 entries.

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

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.

3,009 people named Gibbs were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 390 as mixed.

There was a total of 14,264 people with the name.

Gibbs 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 5,658 people with the last name Gibbs as black within a total of 22,704 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 7,276 people named Gibbs as black within a total of 34,054.

Historic Black Figures With The Gibbs Surname

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

Jonathan Gibbs

  • Born: 1821
  • From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Died: 1874

Jonathan Gibbs was the eldest son of a methodist minister. His father died when he was ten and he and his brother Mifflin converted to Presbyterian.

His church sent him to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where he became only the third black graduate in 1848.

He became a minister in 1856 in New York where he worked with Frederick Douglass on the abolitionist cause.

Gibbs settled in Florida in the late 1860s and became involved in politics. He was ultimately appointed as Secretary of State, being the first African American to hold that office.

Gibbs In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Gibbs 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 Gibbs was in December 1867. Lawrence Gibbs was a Private in the United States Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in December 1867 at Fort Larned, Kansas.

Another entry was in June 1915. Arthur L. Gibbs was a Private in the United States 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.

John Gibbs

One of the earliest entries for Gibbs was for John Gibbs from Norfolk, Virginia. He enlisted in July 1863 at Hampton Roads when he was aged 20.

The record shows that John was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Roanoke.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Butler. His naval rank was Landsman.

“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.

York Gibbs

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Mobile Bay in August 1865. York was aged 22 and was from Hyde County, North Carolina.

He was assigned to the ship Tennessee on March 1865.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer. His naval rank was Coal Heaver.

Coal heavers in the Navy shoveled coal into the furnace in the engine room.