Payne As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 32,270 black Americans with Payne as their last name. That represented 23% of the total of 142,601 entries.

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

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.

3,768 people named Payne were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 683 as mixed.

There was a total of 20,388 people with the name.

Payne 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 9,330 people with the last name Payne as black within a total of 42,026 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 12,402 people named Payne as black within a total of 73,808.

Historic Black Figures With The Payne Surname

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

Ethel Payne

  • Born: 1911
  • From: Chicago, Illinois
  • Died: 1991

Ethel Payne became known as the “First Lady of the Black Press.” She began her career in journalism during the 1950s after serving as a hostess in a military service club during World War II.

In 1951, she joined the Chicago Defender, one of the most prominent African American newspapers in the country.

As a journalist for the Chicago Defender, Payne reported on key events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the 1963 March on Washington.

In 1972, she became the first African American woman to be accredited as a television journalist and served as a commentator for CBS.

Throughout her career, Payne focused on social justice issues, civil rights, and the experiences of African Americans, using her platform to amplify their voices and advocate for change.

The National Association Of Black Journalists inducted her into the Hall Of Fame as a member with legendary status.

Here are just a few other notable black journalists in the Hall Of Fame:

Christopher Payne

  • Born: 1845
  • From: Monroe County, Virginia
  • Died: 1925

Christopher Payne was born to freed slaves in Western Virginia. His mother taught him to read and write. He attended night school in his twenties while working as a farmhand.

Payne was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1877 and founded the Second Baptist Church. He also established three newspapers in the state: West Virginia Enterprise, The Pioneer, and Mountain Eagle.

He was elected to the West Virginia legislature in 1896. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him as Consul General to the Danish West Indies in 1903.

Payne In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Payne 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 Payne was in December 1870. Jesse Payne was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in December 1870 at Fort Sill, Indian Territory.

One of the later entries was in March 1914. Robert A Payne was a Saddler Sergeant in the 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.

Joseph Payne

One of the earliest entries for Payne was for Joseph Payne from Norfolk, Virginia. He enlisted in March 1864 at Mare Island when he was aged 27.

The record shows that Joseph was assigned on April 1864 to the ship Narragansett.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Cook. His naval rank was Officer’s Cook.

Washington Payne

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Baltimore in February 1864. Washington was aged 24 and was from Baltimore, Maryland.

He was assigned to the ship Wyoming on April 1865.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Brickmaker. 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.

Turner Payne graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in November 1943. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Turner was from Wichita Falls, Texas.

Verdelle Payne came from Mamaroneck, New York. He graduated in April 1945 as a fighter pilot.

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