The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 32,221 black Americans with Webb as their last name. That represented 19% of the total of 168,878 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Webb.
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.
4,450 people named Webb were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 660 as mixed.
There was a total of 28,540 people with the name.
Webb 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 9,375 people with the last name Webb as black within a total of 51,730 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 12,753 people named Webb as black within a total of 89,167.
Historic Black Figures With The Webb Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Webb as their last name.
- Born: 1828
- From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Died: 1894
Frank Webb was born to free parents in Philadelphia. His maternal grandmother was a Haitian/Indian governess to the children of Aaron Burr, the third Vice President of the United States. DNA has proven Webb’s lineage.
Webb’s father was active in the Philadelphian black community., but died when Frank was a child.
Frank married Mary Espartero in 1845, and his wife became a major figure in the Philadelphia arts scene. Harriet Beecher Stowe (the writer of Uncle Tom’s Cabin) sponsored her tour to London to deliver dramatic readings of work by Longfellow (a fan) and Shakespeare.
Meanwhile, Frank wrote a novel in his late twenties. “The Garies and Their Friends” was set amongst free African American families in the North. When Harriet Beecher Stowe had it published in 1857, it was only the second published novel by a black author.
He didn’t write another novel, but his poems and novellas were published in the New Era, a weekly gazette acquired and published by Frederick Douglass.
Other Early Novelists
The first African American novel may still be undiscovered. However, this is what is known:
- William Wells Brown – published in London in 1853
- Harriet Wilson – published in the U.S. in 1859
- Julia Collins – novel serialized in a U.S. newspaper in 1865
- Born: 1923
- From: Mobile, Alabama
- Died: 1992
Alfreda Johnson completed a science degree in the Tuskegee Institute in 1940. She continued at the Institute to study veterinary medicine. When she graduated from the veterinary school in 1949, she became the first African American woman licensed as a veterinarian in the United States.
Johnson went on to teach anatomy at Tuskegee. She also married her husband, Burleigh Webb, who was teaching agriculture at the Institute. Dr. Alfreda Webb joined the faculty of the North Carolina State University in 1959 where she was a professor of biology for nineteen years.
Dr. Webb was a prominent member of the North Carolina Democratic Party and served on many committees. Her interests included minority affairs and sickle cell syndrome.
Webb In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Webb surname from 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 Webb was in January 1870. Charles Webb was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in January 1870 at Camp Supply, Indian Territory.
One of the later entries was in March 1914. Moses Webb 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.
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 Webb was for James Webb from Boston, Massachusetts. He enlisted in June 15 1861 at Boston when he was aged 26.
The record shows that James was assigned on April 1 1863 to the ship Kanawha.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Cook/Caulker. 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 Fort Pillow in May 10 1862. Charles was aged 22 and was from Nashville, Tennessee.
He was assigned to the ship Black Hawk on March 31 1864.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Fieldhand. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.
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.
Rhohelia Webb graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in June 1944. He qualified as a bomber pilot. Rhohelia was from Baltimore, Maryland.