About Us

Michelle and Brett Darnell, 2011

Michelle was born in South Carolina, the oldest of five children. Her grandmother, a very    grand Southern woman, instilled in her the passion she has for cooking and entertaining as well as her deep love of history. Michelle’s family moved throughout her childhood which gave her insight into new areas and a diverse mix of friends. After graduating from high school, Michelle chose to pursue a career in the United States Marine Corps as a Field Radio Operator. It was here that she met her husband Brett Darnell.

Brett was born in Philadelphia, but grew up in Ohio. Brett was the middle of three sons. Unlike Michelle, Brett grew up in the same community all his life. The community offered a very laid back lifestyle with outdoor activates such as boating and snowmobiling.  After graduating high school, Brett chose to pursue a career in the United States Navy as a Hospital Corpsman.

In June, 1985, Brett met Michelle through a friend while they were serving in the military at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. They began dating in December, 1985. On October 18, 1986, Brett and Michelle became husband and wife. In October, 2011, they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.

Shortly after getting married, Michelle left the Marine Corps to follow Brett’s career in the Navy. They moved to Dayton, Ohio in late 1987. In 1988, Brett and Michelle decided to purchase their first home, a historic 1885 Federal brick home. Two weeks later, they were blessed with the news that Michelle was pregnant.

In February, 1989, Michelle developed complications and their first child, a daughter, had to be delivered 14 weeks premature. Alexa weighed one pound, 3.25 ounce and was 11.5 inches long. She spent 100 days in the hospital and came home weighing just under 5 pounds. Today, she is a healthy 23 year old, who is attending college to complete her degree in psychology. She has no health issues and did not require any surgeries due to her premature birth.

In March, 1991, Brett transferred to Groton, Connecticut to attend Submarine School, leaving Michelle and Alexa in Dayton for one year alone. In June, 1991, they were again blessed with news that Michelle was pregnant. This pregnancy also developed complications and their second child, a son was born in January, 1992, just six weeks early. Tyler weighed five pounds and two ounces. He was able to come home as normal. Today, he is a healthy twenty year old and is about to embark on his own career in the United States Navy with hopes to one day become a chaplain. In March, 1992, Brett returned home from Groton before he headed to his next duty station, Norfolk, Virginia. It was the first time, he was able to see his son.

Brett was assigned to the Flying Fish Fast Attack submarine for three years. Michelle and the children moved to the Norfolk area in June, 1992. They settled in Chesapeake, Virginia and have made their home there for the last twenty years. Brett retired from the Navy in 2004. Before retiring from the Navy, Brett completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences, and has since earned a Master’s Degree in Public Health Preparedness from Penn State University.

Throughout the years, Michelle held several different positions to help with the household expenses. She also took five years off, just to be mom during the first five years of their stay in Virginia. Upon returning to work, she found herself working at a local bistro as a cook and delivery driver. It was during this time that she rediscovered her passion for cooking. It was also during this time, that the owner and executive chef took notice of that passion and helped develop it. She “earned and learned” her way to Sous Chef, before branching out on her own just one year later. Michelle started her first business, catering with a partner, which quickly filled with event dates. Sadly this business would not continue. Michelle’s business partner moved back to Texas with her family and without the support of a partner and having two small children, she had to close it down before it really got started. Fortunately she found a small part time cooking position within her own church that allowed her to cater each week for Wednesday night dinner and pick up some events on the side. With Brett being away on deployment, the children would join her and became her “little helpers”.

As the children started preschool and then elementary school, Michelle moved into a part time office manager position with a local college cafeteria and then a full time position within a bank. She has worked with the bank now for ten years.

After Tyler’s graduation from high school in 2010 and then Brett’s graduation in 2011, Michelle found herself ready to put her passion for cooking and history to good use. She knew that she wanted to combine her passions and that the most logical avenue was a historic Bed and Breakfast.  She knew that it couldn’t be just any home; it needed to have historic importance as well as location. So the search began in 2010. In July,  2011, they found their plantation. Over the last year, Brett and Michelle have worked tirelessly to research its history as well as to develop it into a world class destination.

It is their hope that you will join them on this journey as they work to open this plantation and to one day come and enjoy this historic and important property.

1,034 thoughts on “About Us

  1. As one of my beloved followers, I would like to extend my sincere thanks and gratitude by sharing with you my exciting news of becoming a newly published author! And, of course, I wanted you to be among the very first to get a chance to read the rest of my debut novel, The Legacy of Blood, now available in e-book format.

    (No worries if you don’t have a Kindle or other e-reader device, they have free ones to download on your computer. I went on Amazon and downloaded their “Kindle for PC” absolutely free! Love it! Here’s the link if you need it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/pc/download .)

    Again, I want to thank you kindly for all the support. And you never know, as some of my followers have told me, you could say you’ve had a big hand in helping make Shelby Westland a household name! 😛

    The Legacy of Blood on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Blood-Sanguivore-Saga-ebook/dp/B00C5J7V2E/

    Other e-reader retailers to follow soon!


  2. Thanks for liking my post, “Loving Valentine’s Day.” Your blog is really cool and a great read.

  3. Merci pour le fait d’ajouter!!! d–0.o–b

  4. Hi Michelle

    You are a real inspiration to me. You are chasing your dream and seem to be enjoying the race as much as the prize. I am enjoying your blog so very much and have therefore awarded you the Most Inspiring Blogger Award. Check out my latest post here http://luluandthemoon.wordpress.com to learn more about your award.

  5. dogpacer.com says:

    Excellent post! We will be linking to this particularly great article on our site.
    Keep up the great writing.

  6. Wow sounds like a great project! Thanks for liking my post “trend alert! crazy for coral!”

  7. […] Seriously Seeking Grannies 2. Belle Grove Plantation 3. bottledworder 4. Iam Lenise 5. About The Woman 6. Blank Stares and Blank Pages 7. Breezy Books […]

  8. http://2bcreativeblog.com/2013/05/20/sunshine-award/
    I have nominated you! Your posts make me smile! Love the pictures.

  9. Thanks for following my blog! I appreciate it.😀

  10. Rebekah Brown says:

    Thanks for the follow! I’m enjoying exploring your blog 🙂

  11. Matthias says:

    Howdy! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or
    vice-versa? My website goes over a lot of the same subjects as yours and I
    feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free to shoot me an
    email. I look forward to hearing from you! Great blog by the way!

    • Yes, it is the evaluation of Port Royal during the Civil War. The Union Army (tents which you can see at the top left in the distance) was trying to distract the Confederates from Fredericksburg just before they were going to attack. So they told Port Royal that they were going to destroy the town and gave everyone a chance to get out. The civilian left, but the Confederates stayed. The attack that had been planned never happened. While they were going to attack Port Royal so General Burnside could attack Fredericksburg by surprise, Burnside changed his mind and nothing happened this time. The house you see across the river is not Belle Grove. People this it is, but the landing is too far down stream to see Belle Grove. The house you see is Walsingham Plantation. It was owned by a Turner too at the time.

  12. Dear Michelle and Brett,

    What an amazing project! A labor of love, huh?

    Thanks for finding the time to visit and follow my blog.


  13. Brad Clark says:

    Michelle and Brett,

    I have enjoyed your blog for some time… so I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a WordPress Family Award.

    See the link below.


    Brad Clark
    Open Eyes

  14. Kimberly says:

    Thank you so much for following my blog. What a wonderful surprise to learn about Belle Grove. Certainly looks like an interesting journey to pursue the dream. ~Kimberly http://writingwelldesignandphoto.wordpress.com/ and http://50figment.wordpress.com/

  15. Thank you for liking my post Tahoe Gold Rush. You have a beautiful site (both real and virtual)! I’m thrilled to have followed you here.

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