Moss As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 19,003 black Americans with Moss as their last name. That represented 25% of the total of 76,908 entries.

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

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.

2,112 people named Moss were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 419 as mixed.

There was a total of 11,504 people with the name.

Moss 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 5,417 people with the last name Moss as black within a total of 22,718 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 8,310 people named Moss as black within a total of 44,479.

Historic Black Figures With The Moss Surname

Here are some notable African Americans in history with Moss as their last name.

Thomas Moss

  • From: Memphis, Tennessee
  • Died: 1892

Thomas Moss was a postman and respected member of the black community in Memphis. He joined with ten other businessmen to launch a grocery store known as the People’s Grocery in 1889. This became a business threat to a local white grocer, who instigated a raid by deputies.

Moss and two of his employees, Calvin McDowell and Henry Stewart, were dragged from jail by a mob and shot. Moss was a good friend of the black journalist Ida Bell Wells.

Wells threw herself into investigating the events and other lynchings in the South. She wrote extensively on lynching, greatly raising awareness in the North about these atrocities.

Annie Lee Moss Crawford

  • Born: 1905
  • From: South Carolina
  • Died: 1996

Annie Lee Crawford was born in South Carolina, but her family moved to North Carolina when she was young. When she married Ernest Moss and started a family. Annie had worked as a laundress and a cook, before securing a job as a clerk within the federal government.

She was a widow when she moved to work as a communications clerk in the Pentagon in 1949. Anne Lee Moss was one of a list of people named as a communist during Senator McCarthy’s witchhunt (otherwise known as the House Un-American Activities Committee).

The televised interrogation of the elderly soft-spoken lady was part of turning public opinion against McCarthy. Annie Lee was defended by the noted black lawyer George Hayes.

Moss In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Moss 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 Moss was in August 1867. Joel M Moss was a Recruit in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1867 at Fort Riley (Kansas), Indianapolos.

One of the later entries was in May 1914. Charlie Moss was a Cook 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.

John Moss

One of the earliest entries for Moss was for John Moss from Baltimore, Maryland. He enlisted in July 31 1862 at Washington when he was aged 40.

The record shows that John was assigned on April 1 1863 to the ship Mount Washington.

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

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