Past Treasure of the Month – April 2017

Herbert Allaire Robertson (1877 – 1920)
Captain Herbert A. Robertson (1877 - 1920)Captain Herbert A. Robertson (1877 – 1920)

This month marked the 100th Anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. Rosenberg Library honored Captain Herbert Allaire Robertson of Galveston as its Treasure of the Month and exhibited items related to this fallen Galvestonian during April. The Library also opened a larger WWI exhibit on its fourth floor.

Herbert Allaire Robertson

Born in Galveston in 1877, Herbert Allaire Robertson was an accountant at Hutchings, Sealy, & Co. bank for 25 years and was manager of the Galveston Clearing House Association. During the First World War, Robertson was appointed commanding officer of Supply Troop, Seventh Regiment of the Texas National Guard. He was tragically killed when a fellow Guardsman, Private J.C. Tyler, accidentally shot him at the Fort Crockett guard station. Tyler was on sentry duty during the early morning hours of July 31, 1920. Captain Robertson was driving in his automobile when Tyler gave four separate commands to stop. When Robertson continued and passed the sentry, his vehicle was shot at in accordance with military policy. Though the sentry had intended to strike the vehicle’s tire, the bullet entered the rear windshield, hitting Robertson in the back. He was rushed to John Sealy Hospital for emergency surgery but was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Tragic Death

Private Tyler was placed under arrest, although several witnesses testified that he had indeed given multiple warnings before firing his weapon. At his court martial on August 5th, Tyler’s attorney defended his client’s actions though he admitted that the young and inexperienced soldier missed his intended target — the car’s tire — and accidentally shot the driver. Evidence showed that he had followed orders in accordance with sentry training, and he was acquitted.

WWI helmet which belonged to Herbert A. RobertsonWWI helmet which belonged
to Herbert A. Robertson

Herbert Robertson’s funeral took place on August 3rd at Trinity Episcopal Church where he had been a member of the choir. He was buried with full military honors by the American Legion Argonne Post No. 20. Robertson was a member of the Scottish Rite Harmony Lodge, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks.

Military Career

In 1983, Mildred M. Robertson donated the military-issue steel helmet used by Herbert Robertson during the First World War. After attending officers’ training school, Robertson won a commission as first lieutenant at Camp Travis with the Ninetieth Division. He served several campaigns with his division, including in the St. Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne, and the Belgian.

All of the banks in Galveston lowered their flags at half-mast as a tribute to Mr. Robertson following his death.