W.W. New & Family

Several years ago I wrote about 1911’s Pinnix Murder-Suicide, which took place in Danville and involved Fannie New Pinnix and her husband William Gunn Pinnix.

Both parties rest in Green Hill Cemetery in unmarked graves according to burial records, however; there are monuments in the plot designating the graves of Fannie’s immediate family.

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While the deaths of these people might not be as “sensational” as Fannie’s tragic demise their lives are still worthy of exploration.

William Wilde New’s tree-styled marker is obviously the largest in the plot. The ivy near the bottom often designates the patriarch of a family. W.W. died at age 51 of pneumonia and the height of his tree indicates that he lived a relatively long life. Often when people die young a tree marker is felled, symbolizing a life cut short.

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The inscription reads, A Kind Wife Mourns In Thee, A Husband Lost. The Poor, A Friend Who Felt What Friendship Cost.”

While those words imply that William left behind his wife Lucy there is no evidence that she is buried with her family.

Some biographical information on William was printed in Virginia and Virginians: History of Eminent Virginians, Volume 2 by Robert Alonzo Brock and Virgil Anson Lewis in 1888:

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Additionally, according to the 1880 census William, Lucy and Fannie lived on Patton Street with four servants. He was then employed in the livery business.

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From the 1881-1882 city directory

Maggie New was born in 1883 and died in June 1884. The cemetery’s mortuary reports listed her cause of death as “measles and entero colitis.” (The latter refers to an intestinal inflammation.)

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Charlie New died on July 24, 1886 from whooping cough. The mortuary report indicated that he was five weeks old when he passed away which is different from the age of fifty days published in the excerpt above.

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Fannie was born in 1875 and James Robert New on May 17, 1887.

After William Wilde’s death in 1891 the trail ran cold for a few years, with Lucy and Robert reappearing in the 1900 census. The two lived at 556 Main Street and Lucy worked as a boarding housekeeper.

Unfortunately that’s all I could uncover about the mother.

Robert’s 1917 draft card describes him as being of medium height and build with brown hair and eyes, unmarried and employed as a public accountant in Florida.

There is a death listing for James Robert New in California on Sept. 8, 1949. I believe this is the same Robert based on his birth date and Virginia-born status.

How he died and where he was buried are just two of many gaps that need to be filled in about the New family.

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