Callands Clerk’s Office

When Pittsylvania County was separated from Halifax County in 1767, it was necessary to create a new county seat, courthouse and clerk’s office.

The first clerk’s office in Pittsylvania County was built in the Callands community around 1770, and it still stands. Nowadays it is the site of an annual festival put on by the Pittsylvania County Historical Society, attracting artists, historical interpreters and hundreds of visitors.


The Clerk’s office


Bluegrass under shade from a funeral home


Apple presses


Civil War artillery demonstration


18th Century loyalist and 19th Century belle


A patriot

Revolution Mill


Brothers Moses and Caesar Cone founded the textile industry in Greensboro North Carolina at the end of the 19th Century, beginning with Proximity Mill, which in time became the country’s leading producer of denim. A few years later they founded Revolution Mill nearby, devoted to the production of flannel.

With the demise of the Southern textile industries in the 20th century, the mills were abandoned and fell into disrepair.

But thanks to visionaries, today the Revolution Mill site is a beautiful and thriving complex of apartments, galleries, shops and restaurants–providing a model that other Southern cities would do well to study.





The decor includes vintage looms and other equipment



I’m not sure how I feel about this exhibit. Dress up like a mill worker and have your picture taken in the weave room.

Today we attended “Mill Day” at Revolution. There was music, food trucks and oral history.


The Collection is an amazing band whose members were all originally from the Greensboro area. I highly recommend their records.


I got this delicious dish from a Haitian cuisine food truck. As I ate it I thought about the fact that the mill workers of a hundred years ago never tasted pineapple, shrimp or black beans in their lives.


Former mill workers talking about life in the mill village. They all had pleasant memories of their lives there.

Well done, Revolution Mill.

St. Nazaire-sur-Charente

On our vacation to France this year, we dropped in for a quick visit to St. Nazaire-sur-Charente, the hometown of Huguenot immigrant to Virginia Daniel Gueran (1663-1721), progenitor of all the Guerrants in America. This was very likely the first time any of his descendants have visited since he and his family fled after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

Back then it was called St. Nazaire-sur-Saintonge and the town was home to seafarers and salters, probably about 1400 people in all. Nowadays it’s a quiet place.








The sweep of history is fascinating. Two miles away, at the town of Port-des-Barques, there is a marker commemorating the departure of Lafayette to America in 1780.


It may have been the least impressive piece of sculpture we saw on the trip, but it was the one we liked the best.

That expedition helped trap the British army at Yorktown, helping Daniel’s descendants win their independence from the nation that had rescued them from the French government a hundred years earlier.

A little over a hundred years after that, the American Expeditionary Force would arrive in France to return the favor.

Ernie Barnes

Ernie Barnes grew up in the Durham area. His working class parents put a strong emphasis on education and Ernie attended the local segregated schools.

Initially an awkward chubby kid, Ernie eventually became a star athlete. He attended North Carolina Central College, where he played football and pursued his passion for art.

The next stop in his remarkable career was the National Football League, where he spent six years as an offensive lineman. His teammates called him “Big Rembrandt.”

In 1965 New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin hired Ernie as a salaried player, but on the condition that he spend his time painting, rather than playing football. It was the break that Ernie would always credit for launching his career as an artist.

The paintings of Ernie Barnes began to appear in premier New York galleries and became highly sought-after. In due course, he was a famous and accomplished artist.

He died in 2009.

Currently there is an exhibit of the work of Ernie Barnes at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, and it is well worth a visit.


“The Sugar Shack” (1976) is probably his best-known painting.



Daniel Gueran of Saintonge

Daniel Gueran, the progenitor of all the Guerrants in America, arrived in Virginia on March 5, 1701 on the English ship “Nassau,” along with his wife Marie and their four children. The Huguenots who arrived on the Nassau joined those who had arrived on three earlier ships at the newly established settlement at Manakintowne, in what is now Powhatan County.

Daniel was originally from St. Nazaire, in the province of Saintonge, France.

That Daniel was from Saintonge is perfectly clear from the historical record. Yet at some point a researcher made the incorrect assumption that the “St. Nazaire” from which he came was the more-populated and better-known city in Brittany, and now the internet spreads this mistake like the flu.


Saintonge is no longer a French province. Instead it is part of what is now called “Charente Maritime.” St. Nazaire is a small village now called “St. Nazaire-sur-Charente.”

st nazaire sur charente

Nearby La Rochelle was one of the most durable Protestant strongholds during the French Wars of Religion, famous for the 1628 siege during which 80% of the people of La Rochelle died. Daniel’s wife Marie L’Orange was from La Rochelle.

Someday I may write more about these stories, but for now I want to accomplish only one thing–to correct the mistake that is infecting history and genealogy regarding the origin of Daniel Gueran and family. To repeat, they were from Saintonge, not Brittany.