Black history lost & found at Handsell

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Granville C. Pinder Jr., 1965 Mace’s Lane graduate

VIENNA — Archaeology has been ongoing at Handsell, a National Register Historic Site on Indiantown Road north of Vienna for the past six years by Salisbury Archaeologist, Dr. Edward Otter with the help of Gene Brite, a trustee of the Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance and many Handsell volunteers.

Shovel test pits, full 5’x 5’ squares and lots of sifting have revealed wonderful and mysterious artifacts such as native arrowheads, colonial cream ware and transfer ware pottery, early iron nails, bottle fragments and an 1820 penny. But perhaps the most intriguing object was found in the dirt not far from the house — a 1965 Mace’s Lane High School Class Ring with the initials G.C.P. The ring was found in two perfectly matched pieces a few feet from each other.

During the early and mid-20th century, the Indiantown area was a predominantly African-American community made up of families of sharecroppers who lived in several farm houses on the large Indiantown Farm. These families included the Jacksons, Robinsons and Pinders among others who were descended from earlier African-American individuals, free and enslaved who had labored in the Vienna area prior to the Civil War. In the 1960s, two prominent farm managers and employees were brothers Thomas and Granville Pinder Sr. whose wives and children also planted and picked crops on the farm.

The Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance has pursued the history of the class ring and traced it to Granville C. Pinder Jr., a 1965 graduate of Mace’s Lane High School, who apparently lost his ring while working one day at the Indiantown Farm as a young man. At the Indiantown farm, Granville, like his brothers and sisters were responsible not only for picking crops, but chopping wood and tending to the cows, pigs, chickens and rabbits. While in High School, Granville was a member of the National Honor Society and Math Club before enrolling in Morgan State College. He was soon drafted into the United States Army where he became a Military Policeman serving in Germany. He earned an Honorable Discharge in May 1972. Mr. Pinder remains a life-long member of the Wesley United Methodist Church in Vienna and resides in Salisbury at Manokin Manor. He has been made aware of the discovery and was quite surprised to hear the ring had been found.

In honor of Black History Month, the NHPA has had the ring repaired by local jeweler Lynn Stavdal and will present it to Mr. Pinder on Feb. 28 at the Vienna Fire Hall, 1-3 p.m. Neighbors, friends, family of Granville C. Pinder Jr. and the public are invited to this special presentation. Refreshments will be served.

For more information on the African-American history at Handsell go to

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