Ancestors: What’s in a Name, and Robert A. Pinn

1.)  A bit personal, but bear with me.  While I was searching for a formerly enslaved ancestor (

in a free DB of VA tax rolls trying to replace lost 1790 & 1800 census records,

Mundilla, Lot (Black) Caroline County (index is 1799personalA page 10)


A lady who was born in 1938 and is researching her own roots asked me about my names, and this is what I said:

“I just looked at your message again (sorry, I’ve been more scattered than usual since my father’s death last month), and you asked about my names.

My given name is Destinie Antoinette Jones (my father seemed to follow in the Jones line footsteps of being a colorful character and well-known in Washington D.C.).
My parents say they chose Destinie because I nearly died, and spent 3 months in the incubator when I was born, setting some records for low birth weight surviving babies in 1969, and mom chose the ‘ie’ ending because she loves French. Her first name is Antoinette.
So that’s my childhood name. I hated it. The jokes, the bad Paul Anka songs (often by groups of people in broken English, nearly always off-key!), and even met a Jewish couple who refused to pronounce my name. The lady, who speaks 4 languages including French, claimed not to be able to say Destinie or Destiny, so I fell back to a name some friends had suggested to describe me in Hebrew: Shira.
Shira is a common Israeli name, from the Bible, meaning a song or a poem. I had been considering taking that name when I converted to Judaism back in 1990, but the Rabbis in Baltimore decided, after 3 years, that I was too “rebellious, reckless, rash, impulsive, and” I apparently also questioned their authority. I disagreed, but in any case after going by the name of Shira (my middle name which was almost never used and little known was Yael, for Yael/Jael in the book of Deborah who killed king Sisera with a tent peg through the head) for 2 years or so, I was kicked out of the community, and went back to just Destinie and to being an atheist. I was never too big on the bearded God who demanded guilt and sorrow anyway. But I really did miss the music, especially the Sephardic music. And the Israeli dancing. I also missed the comaraderie of walking to services in the rain with no umbrella. Maybe that’s the ascetic streak people seem to think I have. Anyway, in 2001, I wandered into a Reform Temple, just wondering if it was anything like the Orthodox synagogues I had been part of in Baltimore, and to my great shock, they accepted me right away, mainly because my Hebew was still so good after 10 years. They asked me to teach Hebrew school, and then they asked me to convert! That was a change. I resisted, despite being called “Morah Shira” or Teacher Shira by the kids, but when I found an egalitarian group called Chavurat Shalom, I decided to do the formal conversion. Chavurat Shalom is a voluntary group called a Havurah, with no Rabbi, no clear rules, and they don’t mind if you’re an atheist and look dark-skinned. Most importantly, they sang in the same way that the Orthodox Jews (Chasidim, specifically), sing. I really missed that. And they also needed members who read Hebrew, so I was accepted as an important member of the commmunity for my contribution, but I never made close friends in either place.
When I converted I specifically told the Rabbi that I considered myself an atheist, but was willing to throw my allegiance with a people who, like my own ancestors, had been scattered out of their homes and oppressed, and kept strong ties to a family and belief system that teaches about justice. He accepted that, but now most Jews do not accept me, since I am rather vocal about my feelings that the government of the state of israel is not behaving well. But, I have given my word to stand by the jewish people, and I will do that, as long as my conscience permits, and I will say so when I cannot agree with them.
Shira therefore is and remains my adult name.

I also have a private name given to me, by all things, by a tree in New England. I had gone to a very small inter-tribal gathering, and the Grandmother told me an old tree had named me. I was a bit irritated since I didn’t want another name, especially from a tree, and especially one that basically said ‘get your act together’ but there it was. A message to look into my roots I suppose, which is what I am finally doing. Native people like the Grandmother and my Lakota friend keep telling me to stop running away from my ancestors, but I can’t prove that any of them were Native American -and give to others the information I find, to inspire them as well.


full text of web page on Emily J. Manzilla’s husband
one of my great aunts, daughter of Miles and Ann Manzilla, sister of m gr gr. Edward Manzilla, who married Margaret C. Butler on 4 jul 1861:




but in the various enterprises which He has followed, has always been successful, and he is today one of the substantial men of Tuscarawas Township.

The lady to whom Mr. McIntosh was married bore the maiden name of Annie Bixler, a daughter of Samuel Bixier, an early settler in Bethlehem Township. To them were granted the following children: Elmira, Frances, Samuel, Sarah A., Amanda, Milton, Corn, Peter and Franklin. After his marriage, Mr. McIntosh made his [ionic for a twelvemonth in Tuscarawas Township, and then, taking up his abode in Bethlehem Township, lived there for a number of years, when he moved to his present farm. He is the possessor of a quarter-section of fine land in this township, which bears all the improvements found upon the place of an enterprising and progressive agriculturist. Politically speaking, he is a sound Democrat, and, in a religious sense, he is equally as sound in the faith of the German Reformed Church, which denomination he has served as Deacon for many years.

ROBERT A. PINN, formerly Junior Vice commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Ohio, is numbered among the many colored men who did heroic service for the Union during the late war. He was one of the first to offer his services to the Government, but was refused on account of color. Nothing daunted, he went out with the old Nineteenth Ohio Infantry, and in 1862, learning of the movement to organize n company here, returned and joined the Fifth Regiment, and also induced a few of his colored friends to do likewise. He has one of the best war records in the State of Ohio, and is most highly respected wherever known.

In Perry Township, Stark County, Mr. Pinn was born March 1, 1843. His father, it native of Fauquier County, Pa., was born in bondage, and lived with his mother’s relatives until eighteen years old, when he ran away from home and came to Steubenville, Ohio, and learned the trade of a blacksmith in that place. About 1822, he came to Canton, where he remained until his marriage ten years later. He then purchased a farm in ferry Township, the old homestead now owned by our subject, and gave his attention to agricultural pursuits until his death in the fall of 1871, aged seventy-five years. He was a man of splendid information, particularly in ancient history, and his retentive memory enabled him to store his mind with an abundance of valuable knowledge. In religious preference, be was a Congregationalist., and was very familiar with the Scriptures. Politically, he was a Republican and an Abolitionist.

The mother of our subject, Zilphia Broxon, was born in Mercer County, Ill., of English descent, and her relatives were large land-owners in the Keystone State. She died in Perry Township, leaving ten children seven of whom grew to mature years. Our subject, who was the sixth in the family was reared on the Lone farm, and when eleven years old commenced to learn the trade of a broom manufacture. In the fall of 1861, as the United States would not then take colored troops, he went out with the Nineteenth Ohio Infantry under the care of Major-Surgeon Hurxthal. He marched South with the regiment, fund when the battle commenced at Shiloh, could not resist the impulac,but seized a,musket and jumped into the thickest of the light. Afterward, he participated in several other engagements, where he was conspicuous for bravery. As soon as colored troops were allowed to enter the service, he enlisted, and as above stated, persuaded some of his friends to do the same.

Mr. Pinn was appointed Sergeant,and later First Sergeant, and in the hatter capacity marched from Norfolk, Va., aund assisted in breaking up a band of guerrillas that infested the swamps of South Virginia and northern North Carolina.. In the spring of 1864, the regiment proceeded to the front of Petersburg and Richmond, where they were constantly on duty. September 29, there occurred the great battles of Chapin’s Farm, New Market Heights and Ft. Harrison, and in these three dis-


tinet engagements of that day the regiment with which Sergeant Pinn was connected played a most important part, and the long rows of the dead showed how fatal was that part as well as prominent. When the sun rose on that day, five hundred and fifty men stood in ranks, and when it went down only two hundred and eight were left to answer the roll call, three hundred and forty-two having fallen by the wayside. Of these nine commissioned officers were wounded, two hundred and forty-eight enlisted men wounded and eighty-five killed.

At the first volley in the morning, the Captain was wounded, and the command fell to Sergeant Pinn, who led the troops through the series of fights that day, although three times wounded himself. The first wound was received in the left thigh; the second wound, which was caused by a shell penetrating the left limb, so disabled him that he could not walk, but he detailed two men to carry him at the head of his company through all the fight. Just before the close of the battle when Ft. Harrison was captured, about five o’clock :,e received a terrible wound in the right shoulder as he was coming over the hill and, with cap in hand,was shouting words of encouragement to his men. He became unconscious, and the men who had carried him to the front laid him on the field in that state.

Although terribly wounded, our subject refused to be discharged, and as soon as he could travel, rejoined his company, and served until the close of the war. For gallant conduct that day, he was awarded two medals, one from Congress and the other from Gen. Butler. Today these medals are more to him than the memory of shoulder straps, which would have been awarded him had he been a white man. He was discharged at Carolina City, September 20, 1865, and returned to Stark County.

After his return, Mr. Pinn engaged in teaming and contracting until the spring of 1874, when he sold his business, and went to Oberlin College, pursuing the course of studies there for four years and employing his leisure hours in reading law with Prof. Thomas. He finished his legal studies at Massillon with R. H, Folger, and was admitted to the Bar in 1879, at once beginning the practice of his profession. He is now actively engaged as an attorney, being United States Pension Attorney, and having charge of all the local pension business here.

In addition to the old homestead, Mr. Pinn owns eighty acres in Tuscarawas Township and a residence at No. 96 Akron Street, in Massillon. He married, in 1867, Miss Emily J. Manzilla, who was born in Mahoning County, Ohio, her demise occurring April 25, 1890. Socially, Mr. Finn is identified with the Masonic fraternity and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He is a prominent member of Hart Post No. 134. G. A. R., at Massillon, which he has served as Post Commander. In 1888, he was Junior Vice-department commander of Ohio. He takes deep interest in all Grand Army matters, and attends all the National Encampments. He is a strong Republican, and served his party as delegate to the State convention which nominated William McKinley Governor of Ohio.”

from a website which was free, but now requires us to pay for this information.


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