Hairston As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 13,008 black Americans with Hairston as their last name. That represented 81% of the total of 16,090 entries.

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

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.

1,716 people named Hairston were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 338 as mixed.

There was a total of 2,172 people with the name.

Hairston 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 2,489 people with the last name Hairston as black within a total of 2,925 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 2,314 people named Hairston as black within a total of 4,720.

Historic Black Figures With The Hairston Surname

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

Jester Hairston

  • Born: 1901
  • From: North Carolina
  • Died: 2000

Jester Hairston went to high school on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. While studying landscaping, he gained some local renown from singing in choirs. A church organist gave him the funds to study music at Tufts University.

Hairston arranged and composed spirituals for church choirs and for Hollywood films. He was inspired by the spirituals from his childhood when he listened to his grandmother and her friends.

His best known song is “Mary’s Boy Child”. This is popular worldwide as a Christmas carol. Harry Belafonte made it a hit record in 1957.

Hairston In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Hairston 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 Hairston was in August 1900. Dennis Hairston was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1900 at Fort Ringgold, Texas.

Another entry was in May 1902. William Hairston 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.

Hairston In The Freedmen’s Bureau Records

The Freedmen’s Bureau was established after the Civil War to help newly freed African Americans. You can read more in our article on researching the Freedmen archives.

There are several Court records for Hairston in the archives. Here are some of the first names:

  • Burrell
  • Emmanuel
  • Martin
  • Ruth