Abstract of Military Service for John Watkins



Dublin Core


Abstract of Military Service for John Watkins

Alternative Title

Abstract of World War I Military Service


World War, 1914-1918
World War, 1914-1918--African Americans


The abstract of military service for John D. Watkins (1889-1918). The card includes Watkins' name, race, date and place of birth, units and ranks, death date and cause, and who was notified of his death. Though the card designates Watkins as white and lists his unit as the 153rd Depot Brigade, he was, in fact, African American and actually served in the 807th Pioneer Infantry.

John Watkins was born on February 22, 1889 to James and Sarah Watkins in Ocala, Florida. Little is known about his life before the war. At age 29, he was inducted into the United States Army in Tampa, Florida on June 21, 1918. He was then sent to train at Camp Dix in New Jersey, as a Private in the 807th Pioneer Infantry, an all-black segregated unit. On September 4, 1918, the 807th departed from Hoboken, New Jersey to France aboard the USS Siboney. Soon after arrival in Europe, Watkins was promoted to the rank of Corporal, likely because he could read, write, and drive. Though the 807th served in a non-combatant role, they were often in the thick of battles, such as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the last major engagement of the war, building and repairing infrastructure. Watkins survived the war and remained in France, continuing to repair roads and bury the dead. Within a month, on December 8, 1918, Watkins died of pneumonia, likely caused by the influenza epidemic. He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery at Plot H Row 6 Grave 23.

In 2017, the University of Central Florida was one of three universities selected to launch the National Cemetery Administration’s Veterans Legacy Program Project. The program engaged a team of scholars to make the life stories of veterans buried in the Florida National Cemetery available to the public. The project engages UCF students in research and writing and fosters collaboration between students, faculty and local Central Florida schools to produce interactive curriculum for k-12 students. The corresponding website exhibit uses RICHES Mosaic Interface to create a digital archive of related data. The public can use the project-developed augmented-reality app at more than 100 gravesites at the Florida National Cemetery, where they can access the UCF student-authored biographies of veterans.


General Adjutant's Office


Digital reproduction of original typewritten abstract of military service card, December 8, 1918: World War I Army Card Roster, 1924
Florida, Box 15.


General Adjutant's Office

Date Created

ca. 1918-12-08


Watkins, John




52 KB


1 typewritten abstract of military service card






Dunedin, Florida

Accrual Method



History Teacher


Originally created and published by the General Adjutant's Office.

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O'Neil, Rhiannon

Source Repository

External Reference

Abney, Barb. "VA Selects UCF Historians to Archive Stories of Deceased Veterans. UCF Today, March 13, 2017. Accessed August 9, 2017. https://today.ucf.edu/va-selects-ucf-historians-archive-stories-deceased-veterans/.
American Battle Monuments Commission. "John D. Watkins." ABMC. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://www.abmc.gov/node/338687#.W79L02hKi01.
Cromwell, Benedict and Robert Forrest Wilson. The Road to France II, Transportation of Troops and Military Supplies 1917-1918. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1921.
Dalessandro, Robert J. and Gerald Torrence. Willing Patriots: Men of Color in the First World War. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2009.
Florida Department of Military Affairs. "John D Watkins." Online database with images, FloridaMemory. Dunedin, Florida. Army Box 15. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/227495.
Keene, Jennifer D. World War I: The American Soldier Experience. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2011.
Litwack, Leon. Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1998.
Office of the Quartermaster General. "John Watkins." Online database with images, Fold3. Accessed March 1, 2018. https://www.fold3.com/image/604170947.
Selective Service System. "<a href="https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=try&amp
h=26881" target="_blank">John Watkins." U.S. Lists of Men Ordered to Report to Local Board for Military Duty, 1917-1918. Online database with images, Ancestry.com. Hillsborough, Florida. Record Group 163, NAI Number 1159403. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=try&amp
Shofner, Jerrell H. "Custom, Law, and History: The Enduring Influence of Florida's "Black Code"." The Florida Historical Quarterly 55, no. 3 (1977): 279. https://www.jstor.org/stable/30149151.
U.S. Census Bureau. "<a href="https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=try&amp
h=8072960" target="_blank">John Walkins." 1900 United States Federal Census. Online database with images, Ancestry.com. McIntosh, Marion, Florida. Enumeration District 0088. NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1240173. Accessed October 11, 2018. https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=try&amp
United States War Department. "Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1913: Corrected to April 15, 1917. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1918.


General Adjutant's Office. “Abstract of Military Service for John Watkins.” RICHES of Central Florida accessed December 6, 2023, https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/omeka/items/show/10437.



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