Author: Travis A. Pinn

Travis A. Pinn, PhD, is the coauthor of “Charles Alexis and the Bartlett and Charles Families,” in Muiwlanej Kikamaqki—Honouring Our Ancestors: Mi’kmaq Who Left a Mark on the History of the Northeast, 1680 to 1980, ed. Janet E. Schute. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2023.

Traverse Benjamin Pinn Sr. (1840–1888)

Traverse Benjamin Pinn Sr. was an African American civic leader and entrepreneur who invented an early file holder and cofounded The People’s Advocate, Alexandria’s first Black newspaper. Born free, Pinn served as a scout and wagoner for the Union army during the American Civil War (1861–1865). After the war, he began a career in politics and public service, becoming one of the first two African Americans elected to local office in Alexandria and serving as magistrate, member of the city council, and county supervisor. He twice ran unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates. His 1880 patent for a file holder made him one of the few nineteenth-century Black Virginians to receive a patent. In his final years, Pinn moved to Washington, D.C., where he owned and operated a barbershop near the Capitol. Pinn died of an apparent homicide on March 26, 1888, at the age of forty-seven.