Burnett Watson

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Photograph of Burnett Watson in military uniform, taken by Rufus W. Holsinger in 1919. Reproduced from Jefferson's University.

Burnett Watson was a Black resident of Albemarle County who served in World War I and had his portrait photograph included within the Holsinger Studio Collection.


Watson was born on January 6, 1897 to William and May Watson (the former of whom worked as a farmer) in Albemarle County. He grew up in the area alongside his siblings Louis, Lizie, Sarah, Chapman, Cora, Jane, Mary Lou, and James and attended school until fifth grade.

At an unknown date, Watson moved to Campbell, Virginia. He worked at Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy, first on a Virginia boardwalk and then on a boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On September 25, 1918, he registered for the World War I draft in Albemarle County at 21 years old, briefly serving in that conflict as a corporal before being discharged due to injuries he sustained in the line of duty. On January 14, 1919, he was photographed in his military uniform by Rufus W. Holsinger, with this picture later forming a part of the Holsinger Studio Collection.[1]

At an unknown date, Watson married Marian Watson and had five children with her named Lillian, Raymond, Sylvia, Burnett, and Pauline. The family lived at 102 N. Michigan Ave in Atlantic City, where Watson worked first as a waiter and then as a soda fountain manager at the Soda and Candy Company. In 1942, he registered for the World War II draft in Atlantic City at 45 years old.

Watson died on February 12, 1972 in Atlantic City. He was buried there at the Egg Harbor City Cemetery.


  1. Web. Watson, Burnett, Jefferson's University, 02/28/2022