The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 40,471 black Americans with Tucker as their last name. That represented 24% of the total of 167,446 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Tucker.
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.
5,176 people named Tucker were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 827 as mixed.
There was a total of 30,690 people with the name.
Tucker 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 10,714 people with the last name Tucker as black within a total of 52,766 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 14,293 people named Tucker as black within a total of 87,805.
Historic Black Figures With The Tucker Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Tucker as their last name.
- Born: 1927
- From: Philadelphia
- Died: 2005
Delores Nottage’s parents were from the Bahamas. She married William Tucker in 1951 and worked in real estate. Delores Tucker got heavily involved in civil rights activism. She walked on the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 with Dr Luther King.
The Governor of Pennsylvania appointed her as Secretary of State in 1971. She was the first African American woman to be a Secretary of State in the country. Pennsylvania was one of the first states to enact the Equal Rights Amendment under her watch.
In the latter stage of her life, Tucker became vehemently opposed to explicit and misogynistic lyrics in rap. She campaigned to have some of the songs removed from the shelves, which brought a backlash from some prominent rappers.
- Born: 1924
- From: Oklahoma
- Died: 1990
Both Walter Tucker’s parents were high school teachers and ensured their eight children got a good education. Two of his brothers became doctors and the other five achieved masters degrees.
Walter attended dentistry college in Nashville. He moved to Compton in California and opened a dental practice in the 1950s.
Walter ran several times for the position of mayor of Compton. He won the election in 1981. Walter was mayor of Compton until he died from illness in 1990.
Other notable black dentists
Here are some other notable African Americans who were dentists:
Tucker In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Tucker 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.
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 Tucker was in June 1867. Daniel Tucker was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in June 1867 at Fort Arbuckle.
One of the later entries was in February 1914. Nathan Tucker was a Private in the Ninth Cavalry.
If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
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 Tucker was for James Tucker from Flushing, Long Island, New York. He enlisted in June 26 1862 at New Bedford when he was aged 23.
The record shows that James was assigned on April 1 1864 to the ship Massachusetts.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Cook & Steward/Mariner. His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.
An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Lexington/Mississippi River in September 1 1862. Bedford was aged 22 and was from Henderson Co., Tennessee.
He was assigned to the ship Lexington on March 31 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
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.
Lemuel Tucker graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in December 1943. He qualified as a Liaison pilot. Lemuel was from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Paul Tucker came from Detroit, Michigan. He graduated in April 1945 as a fighter pilot.
You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.