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The Huguenot Trail

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The Huguenot Trail that follows the Upper James River (late 18th-mid-19th century; VA 711 and adjacent roads from Jefferson east to the Powhatan-Chesterfield county line) is named for the many Huguenots who settled in the area. When Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and ended almost a century of religious toleration in France, he precipitated an exodus of French Protestants (Huguenots). In 1700, a group of them was granted ten thousand acres at the abandoned Indian town of Manakin. William Byrd I, who owned land in the area, supported this because it put a buffer between the English settlers and the frontier and thereby raised the value of his land. However, the three hundred potential settlers, the largest Huguenot settlement in the colonies, did not fare well in this brutal setting and by 1750 they disbanded. Although some of their descendants still live in the region, many others spread out across the nation. The trail is lined with the impressive houses built by planters beginning in the late eighteenth century. Other more modest houses are interspersed, along with churches and taverns, and even a musket factory (PO8), dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee

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