Remembering the 1967 Pittsylvania County Bicentennial
Chatham, Virginia

Edited by Henry H. Mitchell.

The climactic event of Pittsylvania County's bicentennial celebration, June 15–18, 1967, was a series of performances of the outdoor drama Land of the Bright Leaf, written by Frances Hallam Hurt.

Land of the Bright Leaf — Starring Roles

Mary Lynn Lander, Jerry Wyatt, and James McKeever

Capacity crowds at Land of the Bright Leaf drama. Miss Mary Lynn Lander and Jerry G. Wyatt had the leading roles in the bicentennial drama. (Lower) Jimmy McKeever was the narrator for the outdoor drama.1


Mary Lynn Lander

Sallie, the appealing young girl who in each generation develops the steadiness and strength to meet the crises of her particular day, is played by Miss Mary Lynn Lander. Miss Lander, a teacher of English, speech and drama at Chatham High School, has played such demanding leads as those in Taming of the Shrew and Electra during her years at Longwood College. Miss Lander also writes. She wrote and directed an allegorical play, Arthur in Wonderland, which won the highest rating among ten schools in the District One Play Festival at Charlottesville. Her home is Staunton. The character of Sallie is primarily based on a brave young bride of the 1700s, Sallie Watkins Womack, who was doubled on her groom's horse from Halifax to settle their Pittsylvania land.2

Jerry G. Wyatt

Allen, the recurring figure of the young man who goes forth to meet the brave new world of his generation, is performed by Jerry G. Wyatt. Mr. Wyatt, a member of the faculty of Chatham High School, was graduated from Lynchburg college, where he worked in music and drama, although majoring in English. He studed voice privately with the well-known teacher Helen Pesci Wood. He belonged to the college's concert choir and The Meistersingers, a touring company of singers for the college. Last year at Chatham High School, he directed and performed in La Serva Padrona, a comic opera by Pergolesi. He has served as assistant to Mrs. Elizabeth Smith, director of Land of the Bright Leaf. The character of Allen Womack, like Sallie, is based on Pittsylvania family history.2


  1. Collaged photograph and caption are by Preston Moses, Pittsylvania county Bicentennial Magazine, Pittsylvania Star-Tribune, Chatham, Virginia, 1967.
  2. Credits for the two leading roles in the outdoor drama are by Frances Hallam Hurt, from the Land of the Bright Leaf play program, Chatham, Virginia, 1967.

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