Vance As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 6,095 black Americans with Vance as their last name. That represented 13% of the total of 47,324 entries.

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

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.

888 people named Vance were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 108 as mixed.

There was a total of 8,125 people with the name.

Vance 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 1,908 people with the last name Vance as black within a total of 14,300 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 2,358 people named Vance as black within a total of 23,971.

Historic Black Figures With The Vance Surname

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

Jim Vance

  • Born: 1942
  • From: Ardmore, Pennsylvania
  • Died: 2017

James Howard Vance studied English at Cheyney State College, and joined WRC-TV in 1969 as a news writer. When he was promoted to anchor in 1972, he was one of the first black news anchors at a major network.

Vance spent over forty years covering major stories like Watergate, the attempted assassination of President Reagan, and 9/11.

Vance was active with the National Association of Black Journalists and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also the recipient of Emmy Awards in five different years.

Here are some other members of the Hall Of Fame of the National Association Of Black Journalists:

Mariah Vance

  • Born: 1819
  • From: Springfield, Illinois
  • Died: 1904

Mariah Vance was a housekeeper to Abraham Lincoln during the 1850s.

Vance is known for being cited as the source for a book about Lincoln called “Lincoln’s Unknown Private Life”. This book and its supposed revelations have been largely debunked.

But there’s no doubt that Mariah was a real person. One of her sons became a cook and another became a barber. Mariah eventually lived with her widowed daughter.

In her later years, Mariah liked to proclaim that she was the oldest person born in the county. She claimed to be 92 but she was really about eighty.

Nevertheless, she was well known and respected in her community. When she died in 1904, the local newspaper put her obituary on the front page. This was rare for a black woman in that era.

Vance In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Vance 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 Vance was in October 1876. Emanuel Vance was a Private in the Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in October 1876 at Fort Stanton, New Mexico.

One of the later entries was in December 1906. John N Vance was a Trumpeter 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.

Isaac Vance

One of the earliest entries for Vance was for Isaac Vance from Newberry, South Carolina. He enlisted in August 1862 at Natchez when he was aged 40.

The record shows that Isaac was assigned on December 1864 to the ship Benton.

His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.

“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.

Joseph Vance

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Red River in March 1864. Joseph was aged 49 and was from Laurens County, South Carolina.

He was assigned to the ship Fort Hindman on March 1864.

His naval rank was that of 1st Class Boy.