The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 80,784 black Americans with Stewart as their last name. That represented 25% of the total of 324,957 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Stewart.
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.
8,817 people named Stewart were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 1,695 as mixed.
There was a total of 59,894 people with the name.
Stewart 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 17,101 people with the last name Stewart as black within a total of 100,511 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 27,715 people named Stewart as black within a total of 169,847.
Historic Black Figures With The Stewart Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Stewart as their last name.
- Born: 1893
- From: Clark County, Virginia
- Died: 1987
Ella Phillips was born to a sharecropper family in Virginia. She was an outstanding pupil in grade school.
She worked as a bookkeeper in a pharmacy in Pittsburgh. This led to her enrolling in the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy.
When she graduated in 1916 and got her certification, she was the first black female pharmacist in Pennsylvania.
Ella married William Stewart, a fellow pharmacist, in 1920 and they opened a successful pharmacy in Toledo.
As well as being a businesswoman, Stewart was an activist for civil rights and the betterment of black women. In later life, she worked for UNESCO in the 1960s.
Other notable black pharmacists include:
Bennett McVey Stewart
- Born: 1912
- From: Huntsville, Alabama
- Died: 1988
Bennett Stewart graduated from Miles College in Birmingham in 1936. He returned to the college as a professor of sociology two years later.
He entered the insurance world in the 1940s. Stewart spent nearly two decades with the Atlanta Life Insurance Co in Chicago.
He was active in the Democratic Party, and gained election as a city alderman in 1971. He served several terms as an alderman and a ward committeeman. Stewart’s highest electoral achievement was election to the 96th Congress.
Stewart In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Stewart 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.
This photo is of 2nd Lieutenant Frank R. Stewart of the 8th US Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War at about 1899.
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 Stewart was in April 1867. William Stewart was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in April 1867 at Fort Leavenworth and Washington D.C..
One of the later entries was in July 1914. Harmon Stewart was a Sergeant 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 Stewart was for Lewis Stewart from King George County, Virginia. He enlisted in December 1861 at Washington when he was aged 34.
The record shows that Lewis was assigned on January 1865 to the ship Potomac.
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.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Jacob Bell in April 1864. Peter was aged 22 and was from Baltimore, Maryland.
He was assigned to the ship Casco on May 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer. His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.
An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.
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.
Harry Stewart graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in June 1944. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Harry was from Corona, New York.
His combat credits said: Downed 3 Fw-190s on April 1, 1945
Nathaniel Stewart came from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated in November 1943 as a fighter pilot.
You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.