Parker As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 83,349 black Americans with Parker as their last name. That represented 25% of the total of 336,221 entries.

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

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.

10,758 people named Parker were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 1,696 as mixed.

There was a total of 65,051 people with the name.

Parker 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 22,575 people with the last name Parker as black within a total of 109,051 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 31,194 people named Parker as black within a total of 175,587.

Historic Black Figures With The Parker Surname

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

John Parker

  • Born: 1827
  • From: Norfolk, Virginia
  • Died: 1900

John Parker was born into slavery and was sold as a boy a physician in Alabama. He later persuaded one of the doctor’s patients to purchase him. She eventually allowed him to buy his freedom in 1845.

He soon moved to Ohio, where he married and raised a family. Parker got involved with the Underground Railroad and frequently traveled to Kentucky to slaves escape.

The Underground Railroad was a network of safe houses and travel routes organized by many church and community leaders, civil rights activists, and abolitionists.

Parker was instrumental in getting fugitives across the river. Slaveholders placed a $1,000 bounty on his head.

After Emancipation, Parker built up a successful foundry company. He patented several industrial inventions in 1884 and 1885.

Alice Parker

  • Born: 1895
  • From: Morristown, New Jersey
  • Died: Unknown

Alice Parker attended Howard University and graduated with honors in 1910. While living with her husband in New Jersey, she was unhappy with how inefficient her fireplace was at heating her home.

This was before the advent of central gas heating. Parker set out to address her own heating problems by designing a home furnace powered by natural gas.

Her system had a collection of separate burner units that fed heat into different areas of a building.

Parker filed a patent for her revolutionary design in the 1920s. The design paved the way for modern gas central heating systems.

Other early black inventors include:

Parker In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Parker surname from three different military services:

  • Buffalo soldiers
  • Black civil war sailors
  • Tuskegee airmen

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 Parker was in September 1867. Henry Parker was a Recruit in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in September 1867 at Fort Gibson, Connecticut.

One of the later entries was in January 1914. John H. Parker was a Corporal in the Ninth 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.

Peter Parker

One of the earliest entries for Parker was for Peter Parker from Philadelphia. He enlisted in October 1861 at New York when he was aged 28.

The record shows that Peter was assigned on October 1861 to the ship Galena.

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.

William Parker

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Newport in February 1865. William was aged 21 and was from Washington D.C..

He was assigned to the ship Santee on June 1865.

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

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

Tuskegee Airmen

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.

Frederick Parker graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in January 1944. He qualified as a bomber pilot. Frederick was from Chicago, Illinois.

George Parker came from Youngstown, Ohio. He graduated in May 1945 as a fighter pilot.

You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.