Florida Fallen Stories

Photo courtesy of Mark Krancer

Albert Anderson

Scroll 3 Page 1 #824

Anderson was born in Pinewood, Florida, on April 15, 1890, son of John and Lucinda Anderson, farm laborers, who in 1900 lived in Milton, Santa Rosa County, along with their four other children, ages 12 through 4, and their 15-year-old daughter and her husband. John Anderson had been born a slave in Alabama in January 1833. He married Lucinda Jackson in Santa Rosa County on January 19, 1878. In 1910, now widowed, Lucinda was living in Bagdad, Florida, several miles south of Milton. Residing with her were three of her sons, J C (age 12), Joseph Walter (age 10), Albert (age 20), and Thomas Buggs, a 55-year-old widower who in 1913 would marry Lucinda.

Albert Anderson listed Pinewood as his home address on June 15, 1917, when he registered for the draft.  He was employed by Bay Point Mill Company, a sawmill in Pinewood, which like Bagdad was a company town located on Blackwater Bay in Santa Rosa County. He was also married to Rosanna  (Rosa) Gonzalez, a native Floridian whose father was born in Brazil. Albert and Rosa wed at Milton on February 3, 1913.


WWI Draft Registration, Santa Rosa County, Florida, Albert Anderson.


On August 3, 1918, Albert Anderson was ordered to report for military duty at Milton, where he was inducted into the Army and sent via train to Camp Devens, Massachusetts.


Anderson’s name is listed last on this page of draftees at Milton.


After nearly a month of military training, he was ordered to U.S. Army Engineers Training School at Camp A. A. Humphreys, in Fairfax, Virginia (Fort Belvoir, today). Here he remained for approximately three weeks, when on September 25, 1918 he boarded the troopship RMS Scotian at Hoboken, New Jersey to England. On the day before he was to ship out, Anderson’s mother died.

Onboard with Anderson were other members of the 546th Engineers Service Battalion, a mostly all-black unit (excluding a handful of white sergeants and officers) comprised of three companies (A, B, C), and HQ and Medical detachments, totaling some 591 men. Anderson was in Company B, numbering 215, of whom 91 were from Florida. There were an additional 201 black soldiers in various companies from Camp Merritt, New Jersey. Yet the largest contingent on the Scotian was the all-white 73rd Artillery CAC, comprised of 1423 officers and enlisted, more than half of the 2,413 troops being transported across the Atlantic.


Partial manifest of “Colored” troops aboard the Scotian. Albert Anderson is # 5 on the list.


But Anderson never made it to England. He died aboard the Scotian on October 4, 1918. Official cause of death was influenza complicated by pneumonia, and he was buried at sea. Five other Floridians in Company B also died on the Scotian while at sea—Privates Henry Dade, Andy Gordon, David Harris, Arthur Haywood, and Will Pryor—and their names are on the Scroll as well. Dade died on the same date as Anderson, October 4, as did Floridians Sandy Robinson Bellamy and Hamon Long of Company C, and John Johnson of Company A. Dock Pinsett of Company A died on October 3 and Shelly Brown of Company C died on October 5. All eleven were among Florida’s Fallen, victims of the Great Influenza pandemic of 1918-19 who died onboard the RMS Scotian and were buried at sea.


Pre-war postcard for the Royal Mail Ship Scotian, whose maiden voyage between Rotterdam and New York occurred on August 24, 1898.


Since Anderson’s mother was deceased, his widow, Rosa Gonzalez Anderson, was eligible for an all-expense paid  trip to Europe funded by the Government. In 1929 Congress passed legislation authorizing the secretary of war to allow Gold Star Mothers and widows with next of kin buried overseas to travel as guests of the nation. The notoriously frugal Calvin Coolidge signed this legislation shortly before he left office in March 1929. The administrations of Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt re-authorized these pilgrimages from 1931 to 1933, even as the Great Depression raged and federal government reduced expenditures in the face of deficits.

Although Anderson was buried at sea, his name was included among the 974 missing inscribed on bronze tablets on the chapel walls at the Suresnes American Cemetery, located high on the slopes of Mont-Valérien overlooking western Paris. The War Department offered Rosa Anderson an opportunity to visit the cemetery from 1930 through 1933. But each year she declined the honor.


Coordinates given for Anderson’s burial at sea were roughly 450 nautical miles due west of Ireland.


Albert Anderson’s Florida “Death” Card, as issued by the U.S. Adjutant General’s office.