Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Howsin Pinn

Sometimes you just don't realize what's sitting in your own backyard until you accidentally stumble upon it.   An acquaintance recently told me that they thought there was an "interesting cemetery" on an industrial road near my home.  He was several streets off, and the cemetery proved to be much closer than expected.  Right across the street, as it happened.

Nestled between two townhouses in the heart of urban western Prince William County, concealed behind a discrete wooden fence, is a small family cemetery.   There is no name on the fence.  No plaque announcing the cemetery.  It sits quietly, shaded by walnut trees.  It is well maintained and cared for, so I can only assume that there are still family members who visit to pay their respects.

Researching the land with the help of the wonderful staff at RELIC, I learned that the land once belonged to Howson/Howison Pinn, a free, educated black man.

 Richmond Whig, 09/24/1872

On March 18, 1897 "application was made...by the heirs of Howison Pinn deceased to survey the land of said Pinn left to them by will executed the first day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy six and recorded in Will Book S page 507."  (PWCo Deed Book 47, pg 193)

A plat in the Deed Book shows the survey of the land, including the 181 acres containing the cemetery.

That land has long since been divided and sold and parceled out, and is now a suburban bedroom community.  All that remains to hail back to 1897 is the tiny little cemetery behind its well kept fence.

A cemetery listing and photos of all of the remaining headstones therein can be found by searching PINN on findagrave.com.


  1. Dear Carolyn - as you so nicely described it, I "stumbled" upon your PWCG blog while surfing the net and discovered your story of my families cemetery, the Pinn Family Cemetery, from your June 2012 writing. It was such a thrill to see someone other than my directs recognize theses hallowed grounds too. As an amauture genealogist, of special note was the Howison Pinn news story. Howison was my GGG grandfather. You mentioned in your article that there was no plaque or way to properly recognize the cemetery. I want to change that and more. I live in Wasjhington State, a long ways away. Tank you again for your convenient stumble or should I say, destiny.

    Lionel Pinn, jr.
    Napavine, Wa
    LittleEagle9 at hotmail dot com

  2. Hello again Carolyn - Just a quick note to let you know that I have not forgotten you or my relatives. I am very excited to report that I have recently make contact with the PW County board of commissioner and they have been very helpful and supportive of the cemetery and other things too. I will keep you advised.