The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 74,209 black Americans with Henderson as their last name. That represented 34% of the total of 218,393 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Henderson.
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.
9,023 people named Henderson were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 1,399 as mixed.
There was a total of 38,511 people with the name.
Henderson 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 21,259 people with the last name Henderson as black within a total of 72,616 that year.
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 30,294 people named Henderson as black within a total of 116,118.
Historic Black Figures With The Henderson Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Henderson as their last name.
- Born: About 1858
- From: Nashville, Tennessee
- Died: 1918
James Henderson entered the University of Chicago in 1875 where he studied medicine. He was a co-founding of Chicago’s first black newspaper, the Chicago Conservator, while he was a student.
Henderson was one of two black students who graduated from the Chicago’s Medical College in 1883, the first two to do so. The other student was Daniel Hale Williams, who went on to become a pioneering heart surgeon.
Henderson opened a successful medical practice in Springfield, Illinois, in the 1890s. Local newspapers spoke about him with high regard. One even noted that he had one of the largest cars in the city that served his practice well.
Henderson used his influence to speak and advocate for the black community. He became increasingly militant as he got older. The toll of attention from the newly created FBI during the First World War became too much for him and took his own life.
Other early doctors
Here are some other notable black doctors in the 19th and early 20th century:
- Born: 1877
- From: Chicago
- Died: 1957
When Olive Henderson was young, she attended the dental practice of Ida Gray Nelson for treatment. Ida was the first black female dentist in Chicago, and she inspired Olive to follow in her footsteps.
Henderson graduated from Northwestern University in 1908 with her degree in dentistry and became the second black female dentist in the city. She established a dental practice in the South Side and worked for forty years.
Her husband, Thomas Officer, was a doctor in the city.
- Born: 1883
- From: Washington D.C.
- Died: 1977
Edwin Henderson studied at Howard University and later at Columbia University. While working as a teacher and gym instructor, he spent summers at Harvard University studying physical education.
Harvard introduced him to the new sport of basketball, which he brought back to the black YMCA in Washington. E.B. Henderson is known as the Father Of Black Basketball for spreading the sport amongst the African American community.
As well as a long history as a pioneer in sports and physical education in schools, Henderson was an activist against segregation. He led a successful picket in boxing that resulted in the integration of boxing in D.C.
E.B. and his wife, Mary Ellen, founded the first chapter of the NAACP in Falls Church, Virginia.
Henderson In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Henderson surname from three different military services:
- Buffalo soldiers
- Black civil war sailors
- Tuskegee airmen
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 Henderson was in February 1867. Edward Henderson was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in February 1867 at Fort Learmouth, Kansas.
One of the later entries was in December 1914. Robert C. Henderson was a Private in the Ninth Cavalry.
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.
One of the earliest entries for Henderson was for Robert Henderson from Richmond, Virginia. He enlisted in December 1862 at Cincinnati when he was aged 38.
The record shows that Robert was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Black Hawk.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Tobacconist. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Newport in February 1865. Albert was aged 22 and was from Georgetown, Maryland.
He was assigned to the ship Santee on June 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Waiter. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
The Tuskegee Airmen were military personnel who served at the Tuskegee Army Airfield or related programs.
Nearly one thousand black pilots graduated from the Tuskegee Institute. They flew single-engine fighter planes or twin-engine bombers. 352 fought in combat.
Eugene Henderson graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in November 1944. He qualified as a bomber pilot. Eugene was from Jacksonville, Florida.