A Detailed Route of The Great Wagon Road

Lancaster to Winchester

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The Great Wagon Road consisted of more than one route from Pennsylvania to the southern colonies. In fact, 12 different routes are known to exist between Philadelphia to Augusta, Georgia. The most popular route during the years of 1741-1770 originated from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and ended at the Yadkin River in North Carolina. This particular route consisted of approx. 430 miles and began at the Conestoga River Ford in Pennsylvania. The actual river crossing location can be found along present day Old Philadelphia Pike and/or State Highway 340. A bridge crosses the river near the original location. In 1795, this portion of the road was actually paved with stones and ended at the Susquehanna River ferry crossing which is now a bridge on State Highway 462.

From Columbia, Pennsylvania, the road traveled to Wrightsville, known as Wright’s Ferry during the 18th century.  The road continued until York, Pennsylvania and the crossing of Cordorus Creek. This crossing is also a bridge today on State Highway 462. From York, the pioneers traveled approx. 5 miles to reach the “junction”. This crossroad was widely known with the travelers. It joined present day road following State Highway 116. This section was considered the older path after 1747 when the new trail was constructed. The new section of the road follows present day US Highway 30. The old route would take the settlers to Winchester, Virginia and consisted of approx. 117 miles.  The new route would take the settlers to the same location, Winchester and consisted of approx. 114 miles. In 1754, another route was also available to the settlers that took them from York to Winchester, Virginia through Black Gap. Estimated mileage for this route is 112 miles.

These alternate routes were roughly the same mileage but depending upon the season of the year, the resources that the family carried with them and the guide who was accompanying the party weighed heavily on which route was taken. During a ten year span, studies reveal that the most popular route for many was the oldest route due to the inns, taverns and business resources that were established along the way. This route held physicians, more churches for worship, blacksmiths and more.

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Once a party left Lancaster, Pennsylvania, they traveled down the road headed for Columbia, Pennsylvania and the Susquehanna River ferry. The wagon would hold supplies to last through the trip. Large furniture items would not accompany most families. In fact, very few personal items would have been on board. If the family owned a spinning wheel, this was a necessity and was placed on the wagon. Bedding and bed framing were also essential. Clothing, cooking utensils such as pots, bowls, a chest with small personal items, money and most importantly, food to endure the trip were also added to the load. The road located in Columbia (established in 1726) was in good to fair shape during this time period and was often traveled with suppliers on their way to Philadelphia and elsewhere. Upon leaving Columbia, the road led to York, Pennsylvania which was approx. 14 miles away. On a good day of travel, 14 miles was achieved by the settlers, but on many days, less than 5 miles a day were made.

York, Pennsylvania was a thriving community during the time when the settlers would travel the Great Wagon Road. York was established in 1741 and was known as the first town west of Susquehanna River.  The Schutlz brothers built the first stone homes in the area circa 1733/34. An inn operated by Schnell was well known to the area. From York, the famous junction was just 5 miles down the road. Majority of travelers would camp at the junction site. Final discussions would be held on the route taken and chores such as washing, cooking, etc. would be completed. Repairs and equipment check would be finalized. The settlers would start at sunup to begin the next phase of their journey.

camp fire

14 miles from the junction, Hanover, Pennsylvania is located in Adams County. This is a new township to the settlers with limited resources available to them. The settlers are mainly Irish and Scottish. The community has met with frequent Indian raids during the past several years. The road here maintains a fair condition dependent upon the season and the current weather.  Traveling at night was extremely dangerous and majority of families refused to do this. They would camp each night and rise with the sun each morning.

From Hanover, the Great Wagon Road held 9 miles of wilderness to the state line of Maryland.  6 additional miles were required in order to reach the small village of Taneytown, Maryland. This was a very small community established in 1754 and as late as 1791 still consisted of only 1 road through the village. The next destination is Big Pipe Creek which is 4 miles from Taneytown and then the crossing of Monocacy River. The present day location for this crossing can be located on Maryland State Highway 194 in Frederick County.

Monocacy River

Monocacy River, Frederick County, Maryland

From the river crossing, the wagons would travel 20 miles to Frederick, Maryland. This community was filled with German settlers and the families would be welcomed to stay the night in homes all throughout the area. Hospitality was well known for this area along the road. Leaving Frederick, it was 12 miles to Turner’s Gap. This ranged in elevation of 1,100 feet, located at the Blue Ridge Mountain chain. 12 miles from this location was the crossing of the Potomac River in West Virginia. This was a ferry crossing that Samuel Taylor operated from 1734-1754 and Thomas Swearingen began operations in 1755. “Packhorse Ford” was located nearby for those families who either did not want to cross on the ferry or could not afford the money required for the crossing. Once the families crossed the Potomac River, they could rest in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. This small community was growing steadily every year due to it’s close proximity of the Great Wagon Road. Wagons could be repaired, supplies could be purchased or traded and the families could camp along the banks of the river.

potomac river

Potomac River

From the river crossing, it was 18 miles to the state line of Virginia. Once the wagons reached this point, the road quickly deteriorated to large rocks, fallen trees and steep inclines. Heavy loads became more difficult to control and animals became fatigued and weary. They would travel through Vestal’s Gap (known today as Key’s Gap) and through William’s Gap (known today as Snicker’s Gap). This was a long 15 mile trail until they reached Opequon Creek. Once they crossed the creek, they were 5 miles from Frederick Town (known today as Winchester, Virginia). The settlers were anxious upon reaching this community. It allowed them to rest and make any needed repairs on the wagons. Many would become concerned about their loads for the remaining of the trip. Items were discarded or traded for more supplies or money. They all knew that a vast wilderness laid before them. Many were second guessing their decision to travel the road, but they knew what laid behind them, they would travel further to see what laid before them.

The next segment will detail the journey from Winchester, Virginia to the Yadkin River in North Carolina. Surnames of families traveling the Great Wagon Road are currently discussed and researched by Piedmont Trails, followers, group members and forum members on Piedmont Trails FB Group Page and at Piedmont Trails Forum. Everyone is welcome to join us. I hope you all are enjoying this series as much as I am. The research involved with this project has been so rewarding. The Great Wagon Road is a treasure in it’s own right and the history associated with it’s journey throughout the years can not be ignored. The ancestors who traveled this road were just as special as the road itself. Although we may never know all of the details this road and it’s passengers endured, we have a better understanding of the conditions they experienced and a deep respect for the footprints that were left behind. To read more articles about The Great Wagon on Piedmont Trails, please click on the following links.

The Great Wagon Road-1st Article

From Pennsylvania To New Lands-2nd Article

Wagon Road To North Carolina-3rd Article

Remembering The Great Wagon Road-4th Article

Wagons, Horses & Stagecoaches-5th Article

Thank You all so much for your support of Piedmont Trails. It is your dedication to history and genealogy that breathes life into the words upon this page. Thank You !! May I wish you all well with your research and hope you have great treasures to discover while walking in the footsteps of your ancestors.

mums and log cabin

Special Thanks to the following sources:

York Historical Society of York, Pennsylvania

Map records of Pennsylvania State Archives

The American Frontier by Babcock

The Present State of Virginia by Beverly

Germans in Maryland by Nead

 

Wagons, Horses & Stagecoaches

Adventures Along The Great Wagon Road

The travelers along the Great Wagon Road were able to experience many different adventures. Experiences ranging from weather related storms to musical entertainment and everything in between. This article will concentrate on the wagons, horses and stagecoaches that the early pioneers used on the road. The traffic along the road depended upon the season. During the harsh winter months, travelers would almost cease while other seasons would encounter the moving dirt and dust from the wheels moving south. At it’s beginning, the Great Wagon Road was a small hunting trail for local area Indians. Locals named the trail, The Warrior’s Path and this path measured a mere few feet at it’s widest point.

Once the Carolina frontier was opened for settlement, many northern settlers began planning the trip southward. Packhorses were led to Carolina beginning circa 1722. The path began to widen but as late as 1750, areas of the road were still only a few feet wide with narrow steep cliffs bordering it’s side. The road changed over the years in order to allow larger wagons to pass through safely. Several side roads were made to accommodate the larger wagons. Some of these roads would completely separate the traveling parties into two or three separate groups for days. The majority of the farming families made their carts and wagons. Due to the construction of these early vehicles, many did not make it to the new destination. The wagons that broke down along the road were either repaired or discarded where they fell. Many travelers set out on the journey by foot and packed what they carried in bundles strapped to their backs and small sleds that they would drag behind them. Families who owned only 1 horse usually traveled with the father on horseback and a child riding with him, while other family members walked behind. A mother would take care of the little children by either carrying them or holding their hands while walking along the road. By 1740, trains of packhorses could be seen along the road. Each animal capable of carrying 600 pounds each. These horses would usually carry a bridle bell as was the custom of the day. Other travelers could hear the bells in the distance and knew that a train of packhorses were near by.

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By 1750, large wagons were seen along the road. These were given the name of Conestoga. Manufactured in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, these wagons were capable of carrying up to 6 tons of weight. The wagons were built from hickory, white oak and poplar. The hubs were made from black gum or sour gum trees surrounded by a ring of iron used as the “tire” of the wheel. The weight of the wagon ranged from 3,000 to 3,500 pounds when construction was complete. A hinged tailgate dropped downward at the rear for easy loading and unloading. The wagons were arched with several iron hoops which were covered with an awning of canvas or homespun cloth. The covering was called a “poke bonnet”. These wagons were expensive ranging in price of $175 to $250 between the years of 1760-1790. Wagon Drivers could be hired to transport families and their possessions to their new homes. This practice was very popular as the families could trade for the travel expenses and have someone within their party that was very familiar with the territory. Wagon Drivers would advertise their departure on court day when everyone was in town. Families would make their deals and set the date for departure. These wagons were led by a team of 4 or 5 horses and required constant attention while on the road. The driver held his hand firmly on the “jerk line” which connected with the bit of the left wheel horse or team leader. Because of this, the driver would always sit on the left side just as we do today while driving our automobiles. While holding steady on the “jerk line”, the driver was able to control his team verbally. “Haw” meant to turn left while “Gee” meant to turn right. “Whoa” meant to stop. The horses set their own pace and provided braking power with their strong hindquarters. On steep grades, a chain would be installed from the wheels to the coupling poles to provide a brake. Wagons owned by a company were called “line teams” while independent drivers were called “regulars”.

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Many pioneers built their own wagons. One of the most important features of the wagons were the rims. The rims would have 2 pieces of iron that measured at least 1/2 inch thick. They were bent to the shape of the wheel and welded at both joints. The iron was hammered into place and immersed in cold water to shrink the iron to a firm and tight fit. Other features that were common are feed boxes attached to the side boards, a tool box equipped with horse hardware and various other tools essential for 18th century transportation. The settlers also stocked their wagons with crude iron utensils and “spider” pots used for cooking. Spider pots were large iron pots resting on 3 legs. Straw mattresses were common along with food supplies to endure the family while traveling. The personal possessions were also loaded. These items would vary from one family to another. Furniture items would rarely make the trip along the road. More common were the trunks that were originally brought from the settlers homeland. These trunks would vary in size and would hold clothing, money, a Bible or prayer book and anything that was highly valued by the individual pioneer.

Once the piedmont area of North Carolina was opened for new settlers, the daily traffic along the Great Wagon Road quickly accelerated to the point that wagons met other wagons and livestock drives constantly. This allowed the road to naturally widen from wagons pulling over to allow others by. Settlers who resided in Virginia would often drive their herds of livestock to market in Pennsylvania. It was a common sight to see these herds along the road during the mid 18th century and stampedes were just as common. The attraction of new settlers, trains of packhorses traveling back and forth and herds heading to market brought with it a great many accidents and thefts. An English traveler, Nicholas Cresswell, stated that, “The frontier draws both the very good and the very worst.” This statement would prove to be correct many times. Driving herds along the road required skill and concentration. Stampedes easily trampled over anything in the path. Devastation and loss were felt by many as well as thankfulness and blessings to a new hero.

The frontier draws both the very good and the very worst

The fast paced stagecoaches began traveling the Great Wagon Road after 1750. Eventually, these coaches would replace the express riders and “for hire” wagons which carried the mail and passengers. The stagecoach line began in New York and Philadelphia and soon they became a familiar site along the road. John Butler advertised his stagecoach services in 1751 and by 1780, a stagecoach could easily carry 5 passengers and the mail. The mail coaches would carry the reputation of faster service, but the passengers soon realized that services pertaining to their traveling conditions were very few. The passengers were exposed to the weather elements while only a leather cloth would shield them. The jolt and bumps felt on the road magnified greatly as the pace of the horses never waivered. The horses were exchanged at strategic locations throughout the road. Some of these locations were inns, taverns, mills and meeting houses.

The pioneers learned quickly to watch the skies for any signs of inclement weather.  Many wagons and carts would get stuck in thick mud by day and frozen hard to the land by night. The temperatures may hover just below freezing for days refusing any removal efforts of the wagon. The pioneers had to face the weather conditions openly. Heavy downpours, strong thunderstorms are just a few of the elements endured by them.  Swollen rivers would allow some wagons to drift downstream in rough currents and break apart with a thunderous crash upon the heavy rocks. Family members would drown during many river crossings. If a ferry was present, the livestock was treated carefully as many would loose their footing and slip overboard.

Between 1730-1750, the road was a wilderness in southern Virginia and North Carolina. The pioneers were exposed to the wild animals in the night. Usually a watchman would guard the party and keep a watchful eye for bears, panthers, Indians and thieves. Robbers were especially common in Virginia and their numbers grew from 1750. The next segment will include more details on this subject and will demonstrate life while traveling the Great Wagon Road. These early pioneers left a trail of strength, courage and a dream for tomorrow. They were willing to travel far to a new wilderness, a frontier named Carolina. They had no knowledge of what awaited them and their loved ones. They dreamed of a new life with new opportunities for them and their offspring.

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Present Day Highway 81, Virginia

History reveals the timeline and the details; our hearts relive the passion our ancestors felt as they were traveling this old Indian trail of long ago. Thank you so much for your support of Piedmont Trails. The next segment on this great adventure will be arriving soon. Until then, best wishes are sent to you as you travel along your journey to the past.

 

18th Century Settlers Along The Banks of Muddy Creek

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Muddy Creek was originally named Gargals Creek and can be shown in this manner on the Fry-Jefferson map of 1755. The upper most branch is shown as Gargales Creek on the 1770 Collet map. The name of Dorithea Creek was given by the Moravians as early as 1756 but by 1780, the creek was referred to as Muddy Creek on all land deeds and other reference data.

The Muddy Creek Settlement is presently located in Forsyth County near Stratford Road. Present day land deeds describe the area as the Muddy Creek plat and early land deeds name the area as Muddy Creek as early as 1751. The flow of the creek is now controlled with culverts so much that you would never know that the creek even exists within the Winston-Salem city limits. It doesn’t begin to flow freely until you reach the Davidson County line near Cooper Road. At this point, it travels southeast and then turns back towards the west as it flows under the bridge of Frye Bridge Road. Here you can see the creek as it may have appeared to the early settlers in the area. The width is large enough to prevent me from attempting to jump across it and you are unable to see the bottom, hence the name, Muddy Creek. Now the creek begins to widen as it travels through the rural farm lands and woods. When it reaches the Hampton Road bridge, it has a width of approx. 11ft. and a much deeper base. If you are researching in the area and would like a more visual view of the landscape, I encourage you to take Muddy Creek Road. This will allow you to view how the land lays near the flood plain of this area. The large creek now travels more west and south until it reaches the Yadkin River which it joins. The origins of the creek begin in present day Stokes County and flows south to the railroad tracks near Highway 158/Stratford Road in Winston-Salem. Many years ago, during the 1970’s, you could see Muddy Creek along a short bridge that spanned Stratford Road, today it is no longer visible as a culvert has replaced the bridge and hidden the creek. Our early settlers used the creeks and streams to navigate through the area. They also used the small waterways to investigate the area and allow proper land selections for themselves and their families. During the early to mid 18th century, a period when roads do not exist, the little creeks and streams were vital to travel, livelihood and a sense of direction, a compass, if you will.

Location Is Key When It Pertains To Genealogy

We begin looking back to the past, the year is 1751 and much of eastern Carolina is already settled. The lands located west to the Yadkin River are seeing the arrival of new settlers traveling from the north down the Great Wagon Road. They arrive to a few settlements already in place, such as the Fourth Creek Settlement, the Dutch Settlement, the Davidson’s Creek Settlement and the Irish Settlement.  These first settlers arrived, unpacked their belongings and began seeking land. Once selected, they applied for land warrants. The date reflecting on these land warrants do not prove the date of arrival. Instead, the dates prove that these settlers arrived much earlier and in some cases were living upon the lands for years prior to applying for a land warrant. A “warrant” or an “entry” in the county surveyor’s book secured the applicant to a survey of the land. It was the responsibility of the applicant to hire 2 chain carriers. Once surveyed, 2 copies of this were made and the applicant had 1 year to submit the survey and pay the fees to the Land Office. Once the fees were paid, the deed was established and recorded. Within the warrant period, the applicant had 3 years to construct a building or dwelling at least 20ft x 16ft and plant 3 acres of land for every 50 acres submitted on the warrant. This gives you an idea of what your ancestor was doing during this time period. The settlers that applied for land warrants did not arrive one day, select a parcel of land the next day and apply for a land warrant the following day. Majority of settlers arrived, settled in and investigated the area. Many moved onward to settle elsewhere within the state, but this transaction involved months and years to complete.

Creating A Timeline Is Essential To Tracing Our Ancestor’s Steps

Bryan Morgan was born in Denmark and traveled to Ireland where he departed for the new colonies circa 1698. He lived in Chester County, PA until he migrated to Virginia in 1729. He organized a settlement which consisted of one hundred thousand acres of land near present day Winchester, VA. By 1748, Morgan and his family left for Carolina and new surroundings. Within 5 years, he claimed several thousands of acres and settlers regarded the area as “Bryan Settlement”. This particular area is located near the Yadkin River and Shallow Ford Crossing. After the arrival of Morgan Bryan, many other settlers followed his trail to the area which extended the Great Wagon Road from it’s previous route. Other families who settled in the area are Carter, Hartford, Davis, Boone, Linville, Hughes, Forbush and many others.  We know the year of arrival for Morgan due to the recordkeeping of Virginia and his partner’s records, Alexander Ross. The first land warrant for Morgan has a date of 10/7/1751 consisting of 640 acres near Yadkin River and Muddy Creek. Morgan became very successful in life through Indian trade which allowed the purchase of land in Virginia near Opequon Creek. The original settlers living within the Bryan Settlement all migrated elsewhere by the time the American Revolutionary War had began with the exception of Edward Hughes.

Townsend Robinson applied for a land warrant on 3/30/1751 consisting of 640 acres near Muddy Creek. This particular family arrived in Carolina from Maryland and settled near the Irish Settlement area. Townsend’s father, Charles Robinson, held the position of Justice of the Peace for Anson County and surveyor. Townsend left the area prior to the American Revolutionary War.

John Dorother applied for a land warrant on 4/1/1752 consisting of 640 acres near Muddy Creek. The chain carriers were Robert Ellrode(namely Elrod) and Robert McAnear. Surveyor was Charles Robinson. John migrated from Ireland and lived in Virginia for a brief period of time before traveling to Carolina.

Zachariah Martin applied for a land warrant on 4/10/1752 consisting of 640 acres near Muddy Creek. Zachariah is listed as “gentleman” and this 18th century term means social status, Zachariah was of high social rank. He was known as Colonel in Mecklenburg County, VA and his father, John Martin, was also listed as a “gentleman” in King William County, VA. Zachariah continued to live in North Carolina and died circa 1775.

Samuel Stewart applied for a land warrant on 4/1/1752 consisting of 640 acres near Muddy Creek. Samuel may be the brother of Henry Stewart who was already living in the area near William Jenkins, Christopher Gist and Barney Curran. John McGuire, constable of Rowan County, hired these men to guide a traveling party to visit the French commander located in the Ohio Valley in 1753.

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James Williams applied for a land warrant on 4/1/1752 consisting of 640 acres near Muddy Creek. It was then located in Anson County and the land deed was recorded on 8/22/1759. James Williams had a son named after him who served as 2nd Lt. during the American Revolutionary War. James Williams Jr. was killed at Kings Mountain, click here to read more.

Jacob Waggoner applied for a land warrant on 4/1/1752 near Muddy Creek. Chain carriers were Frederick Michal and Barnett Michal. Surveyor was Charles Robinson. The deed was recorded on 7/24/1760. Jacob’s uncle, John Waggoner originated from New Castle County, Delaware according to the Court of Common Pleas dated 1703-1717. Jacob’s father died in New Castle County, see Hall of Records located in Dover, Delaware. The Michal family mentioned as chain carriers were from Pennsylvania originated from Louis Michel who was among the first explorers to venture into the Shenandoah Valley in 1706-1707. It is believed that the Michel family and the Waggoner family traveled together to Carolina between the years of 1748-1750 from Virginia.

Robert Elrod applied for a land warrant on 5/2/1753 consisting of 640 acres near Muddy Creek. The deed was recorded on 1/27/1755. Robert is the son of John Elrod who migrated to New Castle County, Delaware. Robert married Sarah Scott and later moved to Kentucky where he died.

Jacob Kurr applied for a land warrant on 11/30/1753 consisting of 640 acres near Muddy Creek. Chain carriers were Alexander Clingman and Simon Haws. Surveyor was James Carter and deed was recorded on 10/3/1761. According to Rowan County Court Minutes I, pg. 104, Jacob Kurr instructed his friend, Daniel Little of Salisbury to sell his acquired land in 1763. Jacob migrated from Whippen, Philadelphia County, PA.

John Nation applied for a land warrant on 12/1/1753 consisting of 640 acres near Muddy Creek and Polecat Creek. The deed was recorded on 5/10/1757. John Nation traveled with Morgan Bryan from Virginia to Carolina. He was able to sell his land in Virginia and continued to live in North Carolina. He died approx. 1773 in Rowan County.

Elisha Robins applied for a land warrant on 12/1/1753 consisting of 640 acres near Deep River area and Muddy Creek in Rowan County. Chain carriers were Marmaduke Vickory and William Robins. The warrant was issued for Elisha Robins but the land survey was completed for Richard Robins, Elisha’s son. Deed was recorded on 1/9/1761. Elisha died circa 1760.

Charles Sparks applied for a land warrant on 5/2/1753 consisting of 640 acres near Yadkin River and Muddy Creek. Chain carriers were Edward Pool and Edward Sweting. Surveyor was James Carter and deed was recorded on 12/30/1760. Charles was born in Queen Annes County, Maryland.  Three brothers migrated to Carolina, namely, Jonas, Matthew and Solomon. Charles was a relative of these brothers.

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Edward Sweting applied for a land warrant on 5/28/1753 consisting of 640 acres near Wagon Ford and Muddy Creek. Chain carriers were William Pool and Edward Pool, surveyor was James Carter. The deed was recorded on 12/29/1760. The Sweeting family migrated from Baltimore, Maryland to Virginia during the early 18th century. Members of this family traveled to Carolina by 1748.

William Robinson applied for a land warrant on 5/1/1753 consisting of 640 acres near Buffalo Creek and Muddy Creek. Chain carriers were Benjamin Robinson and James Patton, surveyor was James Carter. Deed was recorded on 1/2/1760. William arrived from Maryland with John Thompson, John Todd and John Scott. William’s brother, John, was appointed constable on the south side of Grants Creek in 1753. William Robinson Sr. was the father of these brothers and he died in 1757 according to Rowan County Wills, A, 143.

James Hutton applied for several land warrants on 8/7/1753 consisting of over 20,000 acres near or along Muddy Creek. James was born in 1715 and died in 1795. This tract was part of the original “Wachovia” Moravian tract. James was one of the leaders in the Moravian church. More interesting finds on James Hutton. More Links.

William Thornbrough applied for a land warrant on 12/1/1753 consisting of 640 acres near Deep River and Muddy Creek. Chain carriers were Isaac Robbins and Michal Robbins, surveyor was William Churton. The warrant was originally issued for Anthony Baldwin. The Thornbrough family originally arrived from Ireland to Maryland approx. 1713. Brothers, Joseph and William arrived in Carolina circa 1749.

Devolt Macklen applied for a land warrant on 5/11/1754 consisting of 400 acres near Muddy Creek. The deed was recorded on 1/10/1761. The Macklin surname is Irish and many are found in Cecil County, Maryland as early as 1706.

Henry Cossart applied for a land warrant on 11/12/1754 consisting of 1,280 acres near Muddy Creek. Henry is noted as a British citizen according to William Lenoir’s personal papers and court documents. To learn more about this, click here.

Herman Husband applied for a land warrant on 2/26/1755 consisting of 640 acres near Muddy Creek, Richland Creek and Deep River. This warrant was not completed. Herman owned a plantation in Maryland and married in 1743. He traveled to Carolina before 1750 and owned several tracts of land away from Muddy Creek. He was a known Quaker and active during the American Revolutionary War. After his wife died in 1762, he moved south from the Piedmont area.

Henry Antes applied for a land warrant on 3/14/1755 consisting of 280 acres near Muddy Creek. Johann Henry Antes was born in 1701 in Germany. He traveled with other Moravian leaders to visit Carolina in order to purchase land for a new settlement. He was residing in Bethlehem, PA at the time and upon his return from Carolina, he fell ill and died. Several books claim that Henry Antes was the leader who acquired and applied for the land of “Wachovia”, but this is not true. James Hutton was the clergyman who arranged the Moravian transaction. Henry did apply for this particular land warrant, but the deed was never recorded. To learn more about this family, click here.

Jacob Lash applied for a land warrant on 2/6/1759 consisting of 640 acres near Stewarts Branch, Gargales Creek and Muddy Creek. The deed was recorded on 2/22/1759. Jacob arrived in Carolina in 1753 and was among the first Moravian settlers from Pennsylvania. The interesting fact here is the timeline from warrant to deed completion. It appears that the date for the land warrant was transcribed incorrectly in the NC Archives and should have been 2/6/1755 according to Rowan County. To read more about Jacob’s family, click here.

Solomon Sparks, relative of Charles mentioned earlier, applied for a land warrant on 9/22/1760 consisting of 700 acres near Yadkin River and Muddy Creek. Solomon and brother Jonas were appraisers of Phillip Howard’s estate dated 1753 in Rowan County Wills.

William Churton applied for a land warrant on 5/30/1761 and on 6/26/1761. The first consisted of 480 acres near Sparks Creek and Muddy Creek. The second consisted of 664 acres near Muddy Creek. Both parcels were surveyed for Charles Metcalf. William Churton was one of Lord Granville’s agents. Charles Metcalf is son of John Metcalf from England.

John Douthit applied for a land warrant on 2/9/1761 consisting of 640 acres near Muddy Creek. John arrived in America at the age of 15 and married Mary Scott in Maryland. To learn more about this family, click here. John also applied for another land warrant on 7/23/1761 which consisted of 700 acres near Muddy Creek, Moravian lands.

John Fraizer applied for a land warrant on 12/6/1761 consisting of 700 acres near Deep River and Muddy Creek. John was born in 1735 in Pennsylvania. He married Abigail Millikin and moved to Randolph County where he died in 1799. For further research on this family, see Quaker Documents of Guilford and Surry counties.

 Discoveries Are Waiting Among The Faded Pages

This concludes this segment of early settlers along the banks of Muddy Creek. Many of these pioneers were trained and talented with many trades such as weaving, wheelwright, pottery and much more. As you research, you can pinpoint the neighbors and close friends that traveled together down the Great Wagon Road to reach Carolina. A great many of these first settlers moved onward to other adventures but their footsteps were left for us all to discover and marvel on the remarkable details of their lives. The actual deeds can reveal more features such as exact location of land, adjoining land tracts, etc. Tax records will allow you to see how they were able to progress and adjust to their lives in the Carolina frontier.  Piedmont Trails wishes each of you great success with your own genealogy journey and encourage you all to look deeper within the records to locate the details that shaped our ancestor’s daily lives.

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A Song Behind The Plow

Protecting The Legacy of North Carolina’s History & Genealogy

The fate of history and family lineage dwells within the people of the region. It’s the people of an area that restores and strives to pass on the treasures of history and genealogy from one generation to another. North Carolina has been transformed out of a wilderness filled with nature and wonder to the more modernized domain that we all know very well today. To those who seek the historical facts, filled with dates, incidents, paper documents, etc. the course is set to prove this incident happened here and on this day at this time. To those who seek a more personal experience travel a slightly different path. This path allows the ability to capture emotions and feelings that pertains to the historical story. This tradition is as old as North Carolina’s history itself. The art of storytelling dates back to the beginning. Regardless of your personal beliefs, the communication trend from one generation to another initially originated through verbal vocabulary. The story would allow the plot, a climax and a setting to demonstrate and capture feelings in order for those listening to remember the details and know their history.

Discovering your personal family tree is rewarding in itself due to the challenges that are a given when it comes to research. Preserving the data is just as rewarding and greatly cherished for generations to come. More and more hobby genealogists are swept away with the research and put off till tomorrow the thoughts of preserving the information they have already gained. This segment discusses the processes that pertain to the immortality of your work and learning how to research a more pleasurable and personal path with history and genealogy.

A Researcher Must Enjoy The Task Or Risk The Mistake Of Missing The Past

The historical genealogist has a job before them and the job should be met with dedication, commitment and a promise to themselves. Not all researchers seek a complete knowledge of lineage but an objective goal should be set for each person, or group or family members involved with the project. The most important rule reveals the enjoyment of the task. This relates to the title of this segment, The Song Behind The Plow. You need to enjoy your work, just as the farmers of long ago had to find a way to enjoy plowing the fields. When the research is overwhelming or you become frustrated, take a break from it for awhile.

Family Bible

Preservation means action taken to prevent deterioration. The following outline gives tips on how you can preserve your family history.

  • Storing Family Pedigree
  1. Never store you pedigree online ONLY!! Having an online tree is important and a great tool to share with others, but always have a backup tree on a genealogy gedcom software program. Whichever program you chose, create a backup source just in case the program fails at some point.
  2. Store a hard copy of your tree on acid free paper in a protective secure location. If you have future plans for your research, this tip can be very valuable for publishing, donating, gifting, etc.
  • Storing Photographs, Family Heirlooms, Books
  1. Photographs-Store your negatives in a dark dry area and separate each negative. You can also contact your local library or historical society for more guidelines on restoring photographs and preserving them.
  2. Family Heirlooms-Keep an inventory of your heirlooms for insurance purposes and take photos as well. Have items appraised if needed.
  3. Family Bibles and Books-I highly recommend contacting your local library for preserving books in your local area. Each climate is somewhat different and assorted rules apply when preserving these items.

horse and plow

Storytelling combined with genealogy and history is a way of passing on your information to the future. There are many different ways in doing this, such as donating your gedcom to a local historical society or library. You can also consider donating your material to the state level, North Carolina State Archives or the National Archives. Either choice you make preserves your genealogy work for future researchers.

To begin your research off of the regular path, you have to create a starting point. An example of this from my own personal records is as follows:

Joshua G Motsinger(1837-1865) Joshua was born in Davidson County, NC to the parents of Felix Motsinger(1783-1872) and Christina Laughenour Motsinger(1793-1883). I traveled to the area of the family farm located on present day Concrete Works Road. The information was translated from the land deed and local citizens of the area. The original house was still standing and additions had been made to it around 1920 per conversations with local residents. Interviews and church records revealed more details on the family during the Civil War. Joshua worked in the mines located near present day High Point. He was never involved with combat but was able to provide for his family of two children and his wife, Elizabeth Smith Motsinger(1841-1905) all during the war years. This information was located with the Civil War Widow’s pension of 1901 and Civil War mine records located at the state archives and county records. The 1901 pension records are usually 5 to 10 pages in length and if you obtain a copy, you will find out many more details about the veteran and the widow’s family. The land was part of the original tract that Felix Motsinger(1727-1791) purchased back in 1763 and family members inherited the property all through the years. To read more about this family in a story format click on the following link, Shadows On The Heart.

As you can see, I have been able to locate a great deal of information about this family which allows everyone to personally experience the joys and sorrows they endured during their lives. This journey allowed me to visit the actual farmland, trace back to church records and much more. Only a few of these records existed online, the majority of the records were located in libraries, county archives of both Rowan and Davidson counties and with church members who stored records. Many personal interviews were conducted with older members of the family and knowledge was also obtained from the Southern Moravian Archives and local newspapers within the area. If you are unable to travel and visit the research area, writing to the local historical societies and libraries will guide you in the correct direction.

family tree

No matter how you decide to store or share your pedigree, always know that your family tree is magnificent. Be proud of your discoveries and cherish your journey as you conduct the research. Wishing you all a great adventure while you discover the history and genealogy of North Carolina.

 

North Carolina After The American Revolutionary War

During the years after the war, the pieces of many families remained shattered and separated. Although independence had been achieved, many continued to repair their homes, bury their loved ones and heal the wounds that were left behind. The lives of the settlers were forever changed by the onset of the war and it continued well after the last battle was fought on Carolina soil. To say this time was filled with excitement or happiness for all of the settlers would not be true. Hardships were many which resided with loss, separation and anxiety about the future. The settlers were strong-willed and held the capabilities to overcome the weight of sorrow. They watched their children grow and dreamed what they would become. They were loyal to their new country and worked hard to improve their surroundings. The Carolina wilderness was no longer the untamed forest. The state began to take on a new identity and with this new form emerged opportunities, wealth, knowledge and so much more.

Although business did thrive throughout the war, the years following were met with new opportunities and new entrepreneurs. The most popular business among the settlers was farming.. England discouraged cotton crops prior to the war in order to protect their woolen and linen manufacturers. After the war, cotton was beginning to be grown on large acreage plantations. These large farms were located primarily in the eastern part of the state. Tobacco was the most important crop prior to the war and was grown throughout the state. In 1730, Virginia banned the importation of North Carolina tobacco and in 1734, the first tobacco market opened in Bellair, Craven County. Pork was considered a wise investment for many settlers and proved to be quite profitable during the years after the war. Cattle was beginning to grow as well as poultry.

18th century clock (2)

18th Century Clock

Clock and Watchmakers were operating throughout the state after the war, only a few existed prior. Many of these were also jewelers, silver and goldsmiths. Charles Frederick Huguenine traveled to North Carolina and lived in Halifax. He was trained in Pennsylvania and operated a business in 1798. In Bethabara, Adam Keffler was listed as a clock manufacturer. Mecklenburg County recognized Jonas Cohen, native of London. Robert Eugan worked in Edenton and Peter Strong worked in Fayetteville. A total of 40 watchmakers existed in North Carolina during the 18th century.

The State Bank Bill was passed in 1805 and the first banks were Cape Fear and New Bern. Both of these originated in 1804. The State Bank of North Carolina was chartered and it began operating in 1811. The Federal Government did not issue paper notes until the Civil War. The individual banks produced the bank note currency that existed during the early years of the 19th century.

Gold mining became extremely popular in Cabarrus County after 1799. Underground mining was present all throughout the state by 1825. Everyone in the area would mine for gold in some form during this time, hoping to “strike it rich”.

The first paper mill was built near Hillsborough in 1771. The mill was built to help with the paper shortage during the war. Another paper mill was constructed and operated by Gottlieb Shober in 1790 in Salem. It thrived strongly until the year of 1879 when the mill shut down production. The first newspaper was the North Carolina Gazette, published in New Bern in 1751.

Many do not realize that two chain merchants existed in 18th century North Carolina. They were John Hamilton & Co. and Buchannan, Hastie & Co. These two companies were the dominant merchants on the eastern section of the state. They were both Scottish firms that would set up several stores and hire storekeepers to operate them. Both companies were very successful during the years after the war. To name all of the merchants of the state would require writing a book, so the following is a sample of the 18th century well-known merchants. Chowan County-John Porter, Bath-Giles Shute, Beaufort County-Edward Moseley, Craven County-John Carruthers, Salisbury-James Harrell (James operated his store from 1750-1780), Bethabara-Traugott Bagge (Traugott operated the store in Bethabara from 1768-1772, then in Salem from 1772-1800), Hillsborough-William Johnston, Pitt County-Matthew Scott, Mecklenburg County-Jeremiah McCafferty, Caswell County-John McCoy.

caldwell log park

The New Mill Located At David Caldwell Historic Park

Schools were not organized on a statewide basis following the Revolutionary War. However; several schools did exist within the state. A school was built in the year of 1745 in Edenton and another one built in New Bern in 1764. A school was opened in Hillsborough during the year of 1766. David Caldwell, a minister, organized a school in 1761 located in present day Guilford County. It was named Caldwell Log College and served as an academy. Dr. Charles Harris operated an apprenticeship school and trained approx. 90 students in Cabarrus County.

Years following the war shows approx. 3,500 physicians operating in North Carolina. Only 400 of these had undergone some sort of training and about 200 of these actually held medical degrees. Medical provisions were very sparse during the late 18th century and early 19th century. Moravians used peach blossoms to fight smallpox and sassafras leaves to purify the blood. White oak was used for dysentery. Many herbs and spices were used as medicine for the sick such as sage, rosemary, mint, mustard, nutmeg and many more. Common diseases during this time were Malaria, Typhus, Influenza, Smallpox, Whooping Cough, Tubercolis, Dysentery, Scurvy, Arthritis and Worms.

The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 allowed the western lands to be open to new settlements. This created new dreams for many of the North Carolina settlers and many migrated west through the Appalachian Mountains. For some families that endured great hardships from the war, the expansion allowed them to leave the war memories behind.

Cumberland_Gap

Cumberland Gap

Lands west of the Carolina mountains were settled mainly by different Indian tribes during the war. Beginning soon after the war, many settlers began to look for land investment in the west and soon settlements were allowed in Indiana Territory. This territory originated in 1800 and consisted of the northwestern sections from the Kentucky River to Fort Recovery. Present day states include Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and sections of Ohio and Minnesota. Records and documents can be difficult to locate for the Indiana Territory, but not impossible. In time, the territory was divided into individual territories and later each one claimed statehood.  The Great Wagon Road was still a vital link to and from North Carolina at this time and now many new roads were created that linked new communities and towns. The stage coach lines were more organized and developed by 1830. Town life was changing and growing daily for the settlers as rural life remained basically the same. As families were leaving North Carolina, just as many were arriving, so the state showed significant growth following the war.

great wagon road

Map of  The Great Wagon Road

Thank You all so much for your support of Piedmont Trails. Wishing you all great treasures to uncover as you research your history and genealogy. Be sure to browse the website for more new information and research links. Save travels on your journey.

 

 

 

 

Early Settlers of Rockingham County, NC

18th Century Pioneers on Beaver Island Creek

Welcome to a new segment dedicated to the early settlers of Rockingham County, NC. This blog takes a closer look at the Beaver Island Creek area. The creek begins near Mt. Herman Methodist Church located on present day Highway 704 near the Stokes County boundary line. From this point, it travels southeast until it crosses the current Highway 311 and empties into the Dan River just south of Idol Park. These early settlers began to acquire land in the area in 1751. Below you will find the grant number, Deed Book, page, acreage, date and any other information that was prevalent to the land transaction. These land grants pertain to individuals who settled along the waters of Beaver Island Creek.

1751

Robert Jones-4/27/1751-Grant#127, 1200 acres Book 11 pg. 140 (records indicate this settler was currently living in Surry County, Virginia)

1759

Joseph Tate-8/7/1759-Warrant was issued for unknown amount of acreage. Chain carriers John Walker and John Nelson. Surveyor-John Frohock. (was unable to locate grant or deed for warrant)

1762

Anthony Hampton-2/24/1762-Grant#128, 700 acres, Book 6 pg. 153. Chain carriers John Walker and Isaac Whitworth.

William Neil-5/10/1762-630 acres Book 6 pg.202. Chain carriers Thomas Sapp and John Hollys.

1778

Pleasant Henderson-12/16/1778-Grant#22, 600 acres, Book 33 pg. 22.

Charles Garner-12/16/1778-Grant#26, 200 acres, Book 33 pg. 26.

Samuel Shaw-10/13/1778-Grant#509, 400 acres. Book 53 pg. 81

1779

William Meredith-9/20/1779-Grant#129, 500 acres. Book 34 pg. 129.

Thomas Scales-11/13/1779-Grant#108, 296 acres. Book 33 pg. 108.

James Hunter-11/13/1779-Grant#150, 400 acres. Book 33 pg. 150.

John Scales-11/13/1779-Grant#199, 640 acres. Book 33 pg. 199.

1780

Joseph Martin-3/1/1780-Grant#304, 300 acres. Book 33 pg. 350.

James Cannor-3/1/1780-Grant#335, 212 acres. Book 33 pg. 401.

Samuel Hunter-3/1/1780-Grant#388, 300 acres. Book 33 pg. 434.

John Webb-4/3/1780-Grant#305, 400 acres. Book 41 pg. 41.

1782

Richard Cardwell-10/22/1782-Grant#540, 400 acres. Book 48 pg. 97.

Reubin Martin-10/22/1782-Grant#625, 200 acres. Book 48 pg. 136.

1783

James Martin-10/14/1783-Grant#690, 300 acres. Book 54 pg. 24.

William Crump-10/14/1783-Grant#710, 340 acres. Book 54 pg. 32.

Samuel Rogers-10/14/1783-Grant#711, 500 acres. Book 54 pg. 32.

Anthony Dearing-10/14/1783-Grant#726, 300 acres. Book 54 pg. 38.

Richard Cardwell-10/14/1783-Grant#748, 400 acres. Book 54 pg. 47.

Joseph Reed-10/14/1783-Grant#871, 60 acres. Book 54 pg. 102.

Thomas Lovin-10/14/1783-Grant#897, 200 acres. Book 54 pg. 113.

1784

James Hunter-11/8/1784-Grant#1065, 300 acres. Book 56 pg. 228.

Joseph Gibson-11/3/1784-Grant#598, 400 acres. Book 53 pg. 304.

Phileman Manwell-11/3/1784-Grant#612, 200 acres. Book 53 pg. 309.

1787

Robert Crump-5/16/1787-Grant#1239, 50 acres. Book 65 pg. 65.

James Hunter-5/16/1787-Grant#1254, 150 acres. Book 65 pg. 70.

Joel McKey-5/16/1787-Grant#1395, 300 acres. Book 65 pg. 124.

1789

James McCormick-5/18/1789-200 acres. Book 70 pg. 77.

James Jackson-5/18/1789-Grant#1217, 200 acres. Book 70 pg. 137.

1791

Henry Colson-12/20/1791-Grant#134, 100 acres. Book 79 pg. 243.

1792

Anthony Dearing-11/27/1792-Grant#1737, 300 acres. Book 78 pg. 522.

1793

Alexander Lyall-6/27/1793-Grant#64, 100 acres. Book 80 pg. 417.

1794

Charles McAnally-7/9/1794-Grant#95, 100 acres. Book 82 pg. 441.

1795

Richard Vernon-7/16/1795-Grant#168, 46 1/4 acres. Book 86 pg. 447.

Richard Vernon-7/16/1795-Grant#174, 100 acres. Book 86 pg. 450.

Charles Banner-5/4/1795-Grant#114, 300 acres. Book 87 pg. 22.

1796

Charles Banner-11/30/1796-Grant#225, 150 acres. Book 91 pg. 242.

1797

James Hunter-7/10/1797-Grant#263, 71 acres. Book 93 pg. 156.

James Wright-7/10/1797-Grant#281, 100 acres. Book 93 pg. 165.

William Dent-7/10/1797-Grant#282, 150 acres. Book 93 pg. 165.

1799

John Joyce-6/7/1799-Grant#333, 150 acres. Book 104 pg. 248.

Richard Sharp-6/7/1799-Grant#345, 57 acres. Book 104 pg. 254.

This concludes the segment on 18th century settlers of Rockingham County, North Carolina. Thank You all for your support, it is greatly appreciated. Wishing you all great success along your genealogy journey.

 

 

 

North Carolina Family Research

A Detailed Outline for Hobby Genealogists for the Piedmont Area

Before you began your genealogy research, you first acquire the desire of learning more about your family. It begins as an interest but as you research further, the interest grows. Similar as a seed planted along your personal trail, the names of long ago are written down on sticky notes, absorbed in your head and the records never give you enough data to satisfy your need. This is the beginning of a genealogy tree. The branches extend and beckon to be recognized. Tax records, censuses, land grants, late nights, endless caffeine and eyeglasses all await you. It’s a passion that only fellow genealogists understand. “I’ve finally found the maiden name of my 6th great grandmother!!!!!” Many don’t understand your excitement, but other researchers do and while they are enjoying the moment with you, they are also anxious to hear the surname to see if it may link to their family too. Genealogy is an amazing route to travel and contains so much more than estate files and sticky notes. So, Welcome, pull up a chair and enjoy your visit. North Carolina is one of the most fascinating states to conduct genealogy research. You can find records dating to the mid 17th century. You only have to know where to look and how to look. Let’s begin.

stacked books

Surname

Researching without the correct name will only lead you to outer space. You have a surname, but you have to consider spelling variations of the name. For instance, Kramer, Cramer, Cromer and Crommer are all the same surname. You can research databases using the Soundex Code. This will give you much more information that you can sift through in order to pinpoint and identify the individual you are currently looking for. All through history, individuals have been named at birth and known by friends and other acquaintances by a totally different name. Nicknames exist today just as they did centuries ago. Immigration from another country not only required the immigrants to take an oath of allegiance, in some cases, it required the immigrant to change his or her last name. Having the Right name is vital before you research in North Carolina or anywhere within the world.

Piedmont Location

Majority of piedmont early settlers migrated from the northern colonies during the mid 18th century, such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine and Virginia. When they arrived to North Carolina from these areas, they settled primarily in the area, east of the Yadkin River and west of the sandhills area near present day Fayetteville and Sanford. County tax lists and early land grants will give you the exact location of your early piedmont ancestor. Every early county tax list is not online and sadly, some of these are lost forever due to courthouse fires or other circumstances. County history is extremely important to your research. Without the history and timeline of the county, you are researching in the dark. To understand North Carolina county timeline, click here. Majority of land grants are available and many of these are online. Searchable databases can be located at North Carolina Land Grants and at North Carolina State Archives. Estate wills and court records can give you the location as well. Once you have the correct name and the correct location, you then can establish a research trail. Keep in mind the changing boundaries of the state and counties as you move along your research timeline.

Research Timeline

It’s important to create a timeline for the ancestor you are searching for. If you’re not sure exactly what the timeline is, begin with what you know. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s not to guess on genealogy data. Guessing is left for the lottery, the percentages are basically the same. Once you know the timeline, look for historical events within the timeline. For instance, what was going on in the area at the time. This will heighten your search techniques and allow you to search certain criteria.  North Carolina Encyclopedia is a great source for this as an online tool. Your local library and historical societies are great choices as well.

History of Online Research

Majority of researchers of present day, typically research online. And, YES, there are many different ways to research online today versus 20 years ago. The websites that were available then were very few and the information was mainly donated by volunteers or librarians who wanted to make the information available, freely with no obligations. As the years progressed, a few genealogy companies began to emerge and these companies began collecting this data for commercial use. Volunteers began to disappear and genealogists began to keep their records private because they didn’t intend for the information to be used on a commercial revenue basis. As the volunteers were eliminating their data on the internet,  a monopoly of genealogy companies began to make themselves known and fees began to surface for subscriptions, memberships and more. The majority of the free sites that remained online became unknown to the future researcher. These sites were no longer being updated  and many were left abandoned. A few sites that remained were the exception, the #1 site- Rootsweb and the #2 site- The Genealogical Society of Utah, now known as Family Search. Both have been transformed over the years. The #1 North Carolina site was, The American History Project. It was filled with link after link of county records. It was a volunteer program and many county documents were stored on the #1 site of Rootsweb in order to gain popularity and to take advantage of the free pages offer with Rootsweb. But this all changed when Rootsweb was sold in 2008. Many volunteers who were actively donating data online left the site for good and slowly began disappearing from the internet. Other commercial companies began to appear and the online genealogy world forever changed from that point onward. The history of online genealogy allows a better understanding of online techniques in today’s market. I refer to online genealogy as a market, because it has vastly changed during the past 20 years and now resides within commercial trade as millions and millions of revenue are reported for large genealogy companies.

daisy

Present Day Online Research

As stated earlier, online research has grown tremendously over the years. It’s amazing to discover the changes through the years. You may have an online subscription to the many corporations now involved with genealogy or you may rely on your own personal online search engine to obtain records. Online genealogy companies will inform you what they have on their database. You may be able to locate the majority of your family on one site and you may not. It all depends what the company has available for you online. A multitude of records are available by using certain simple keywords and a variety of search engines.  All that is required to perform a simple online search like this is to insert keywords for the search engine to do it’s job. Direct free search engines for North Carolina are North Carolina Genweb and North Carolina Genealogy Society just to name a few. There are more of these free databases online and they can be found if you insert the keyword, “free”. Also, use several search engines, there are many out there in the internet world and each one is slightly different from the other. The results from these different search engines will amaze you with the results.  Keywords are vital on getting the results you want. Think about what you are searching for and enter the keywords that speak this for you. Sometimes too much information is just too much data to go through. Concentrate on what’s important and narrow your search in this manner.

Online Family Trees

The trees located online can be used as “Hints & Clues”. The trees themselves are not sources and should not be used this way with your own personal lineage. You discover someone’s tree and it names an ancestor you have been looking for. After the excitement calms down, look for the source that proves the information. If you don’t see it, the new discovery is just a simple clue for you to investigate further if you wish. It’s not a legal binding document, a family Bible or proof that states this particular person is your ancestor. 95% of online trees contain incorrect data, lineage failures and fabricated information. You may contact the person who owns the tree and they inform you they received the information from a book, for instance. Get the name of the source so you can verify the information. Many family genealogy books have errors as well, look for the legal proof. Without the proof, it’s a simple clue.

Following The Legal Trail

Each and every family that lived in the piedmont area of North Carolina associated with the current government in some form. They paid taxes, submitted information to census takers and acquired a means of making a living such as farming. Births occurred along with deaths and many owned land. All of these actions are intertwined with government documents which creates a legal trial to follow. These type of documents are available for research on many different levels. The NC Archives houses all of these documents from each and every county of North Carolina and even those counties that no longer exist today. County government documents can be located at the current county seat courthouse. Even city and town documents can be located in individual settlements and historical societies. Several North Carolina books have been published during the past 100 years that pertain to these documents such as tax lists, will abstracts and much more. 33 counties suffered lost records due to fires, etc. For the piedmont area, Guilford county is among the worst as far as records destroyed or lost. The legal trail leads to proof of your ancestor’s existence and lineage to you.

Snail Mail & Email

The older genealogist loves snail mail. You arrive at the mailbox and guess what, the will of 4th great grandfather has arrived. You now hold the legal document proving his existence and the names of his wife, children and witnesses to the death event. Handwritten or typed letters say so much about your passion and drive to locate the answers you seek. This works especially well with older family members who may hold the key to your research. The piedmont area has the best hospitality and loves to share with others. Librarians and the archivists located at the NC State Library do respond to snail mail requests on a regular basis. Please provide them with as much information as possible when submitting a request. The state archives will charge you for the copies and out of state residents will also pay a search fee. To read more about the fees, click here. Local historical societies will respond to your request by snail mail as well. These societies are comprised mostly of volunteers who are eager to respond to your request. Email communications are a vital tool to genealogy research. Email can allow documents to be attached for quick viewing and filing  on your computer.  Everyone has access to email these days and it’s a quick communicator that provides privacy unlike social media sites or message boards online.

cabin777

The piedmont area of North Carolina holds many details within it’s history. The past can come alive as you research your ancestors in this area and learn how they lived and where. Land grants of long ago can lead you to the original homestead and possibly a family cemetery in the woods. Words can’t describe the feeling as you walk along the same land as your ancestors did over 250 years ago.

For links to local piedmont area historical societies and county databases, visit the NC Genealogy Links page. The page is updated on a weekly basis, so visit it often for new surprises and links. The next blog will continue the discovery of early land grants in Rockingham County. Wishing you all great success with your research and share your great discoveries and adventures with Piedmont Trails. As always, your support is greatly appreciated here and your presence is greatly valued. May sunny days follow you along your journey.