Rowan As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 983 black Americans with Rowan as their last name. That represented 7% of the total of 13,993 entries.

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

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.

179 people named Rowan were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 34 as mixed.

There was a total of 2,277 people with the name.

Rowan 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 331 people with the last name Rowan as black within a total of 4,895 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 569 people named Rowan as black within a total of 9,089.

Historic Black Figures With The Rowan Surname

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

Carl T. Rowan

  • Born: 1925
  • From: Ravenscroft, Tennessee
  • Died: 2000

Carl Rowan served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After service, he attended Oberlin College and earning a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota.

In 1950, he began his journalism career at the Minneapolis Tribune. In 1961, he was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs by President John F. Kennedy.

He became the U.S. Ambassador to Finland in 1963. Rowan later served as the Director of the United States Information Agency under President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Rowan then moved back into journalism. He wrote a nationally syndicated column, published numerous books, and appeared regularly as a television commentator.

She was inducted into the Hall Of Fame of the National Association Of Black Journalists in 1990.

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

Other ambassadors

Here are some other African American ambassadors in history:

Charles Rowan

  • From: Unknown
  • Died: 1830s

Charles Rowan was a freed slave who worked as a teamster and a barber. He moved to San Bernardino Valley in California where he met Lizzy Flake, also a freed slave. They married in 1860.

The couple built a house near downtown San Bernardino where Lizzy took in laundry. Charles ran a barbershop near his home. Charles and Lizzy educated all their children.

The Rowan family were pillars of the black community in their area and played their part in the early civil rights movement.

Rowan In Black Military Records

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

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 Rowan was in August 1867. John Rowan was a Recruit in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1867 at Fort Leavenworth, Edmington, and Indiana.

One of the later entries was in March 1911. Clarence F Rowan was a Private 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.

Charles Rowan

One of the earliest entries for Rowan was for Charles Rowan from . He enlisted in March 1863 at Washington when he was aged 20.

The record shows that Charles was assigned on June 1863 to the ship Jacob Bell.

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.

William S. Rowan

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Fortress Monroe in August 1863. William S. was aged 20 and was from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

He was assigned to the ship Stepping Stones on December 1864.

His naval rank was also that of Landsman.