The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 4,206 black Americans with Towns as their last name. That represented 54% of the total of 7,760 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Towns.
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.
599 people named Towns were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 79 as mixed.
There was a total of 1,694 people with the name.
Towns 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 1,294 people with the last name Towns as black within a total of 2,716 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 1,645 people named Towns as black within a total of 3,809.
Historic Black Figures With The Towns Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Towns as their last name.
Grace Towns Hamilton
- Born: 1907
- From: Atlanta, Georgia
- Died: 1992
Grace Towns’ parents were educated community activists in Atlanta. Grace married Henry Hamilton in 1930, a year after she obtained a master’s in psychology from Ohio State University. That was where she first experienced segregation.
Grace led the Atlanta Urban League in its efforts to gain better housing and education for Atlanta’s black communities. She also launched voter registration drives in the 1940s and 50s. She served on many state and national organizations in the early 1960s.
She was the first black woman to be elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 1966. She focused on electoral reform and voting rights during her near twenty-year tenure.
- Born: 1934
- From: Chadbourn, North Carolina
Ed Towns Jr. graduated with a sociology degree from North Carolina A&T in 1956. He spent four years in the army and became a Baptist Minister. After he was discharged, he worked in administration at Beth Israel Medical Center.
He took a masters from Adelphi University in 1973 and taught at Medgar Evers College and Fordham University. Towns’ first election was for the New York Assembly in 1970, but he was defeated twice.
He later won a seat for the Democrats in a Brooklyn district. He would go on to win successive elections against strong opposition.
Towns In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. 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 Towns was in October 1878. Alexander Towns was a Private in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in October 1878 at In Field.
One of the later entries was in June 1914. Edward W Towns was a Private in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry.
You have to create an account on either website, but you do not need to pay for the Buffalo Soldiers archive.
Towns In The Freedmen’s Bureau Records
The Freedmen’s Bureau was established after the Civil War to help newly freed African Americans. You can read more in our article on researching the Freedmen archives.
There are over 310 records for Towns in the archives. Here are some of the first names: