The Great Wagon Road Enters Into South Carolina

The Alternate Route From Charlotte, NC to Augusta, GA

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The last article concentrated on the detailed route of the Great Wagon Road through Kershaw and Camden, South Carolina. This last segment of the route will give details through an alternate route in South Carolina and onward to Augusta, Georgia. The settlers traveled through York County, Chester County and Saluda County. Many of these pioneers would settle all throughout this area and just as many would travel onward to Georgia. South Carolina during the early to mid 18th century was not the wilderness frontier that North Carolina clearly was. Land was not as plentiful through the area and this reason alone discouraged many settlers during the late 18th century. The journey was filled with hardships such as dangerous floods, but the settlers that traveled this route were adventurous and brave.

This route leaves Charlotte, North Carolina traveling 14 miles to the Catawba River crossing into York County, South Carolina. Today, Lake Wylie covers the landscape of the original route. Ebenezerville was one of the first settlements in this area. Traveling along State Highway 49 for approx. 17 miles, the route reaches Fergus Crossroads. The crossroads are now located on Liberty Street intersection in York. The first courthouse in the county was built here in 1786 and the name originated from two brothers, John and William Fergus. The crossroads were extremely important to the area as 6 different wagon road routes connected together at this point. The routes are listed as follows: 1-traveling northwest to Kings Mountain and known as the Rutherford road 2-traveling southwest to Pinckney’s Ferry on the Broad River 3-traveling south to Chesterville 4-traveling northeast to Charlottesburg and the Catawba River(The Great Wagon Road) 5-traveling east to Nation Ford 6- traveling southeast to Landsford in Chester County.

Map of The Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania to Georgia

The route continues for 17 miles to the county line of Chester and Mt. Hopewell Church. Chester county was established in 1785 and the first court was held at the Walker’s home. This location was later known as Lewis Turnout in 1776. The road continues on State Highway 49 for 4 miles to the Broad River located in Lockhart. The actual crossing is now a bridge near the Union County line. Traveling 10 miles from Broad River, the road reaches Union, originally named Unionville. This community was established in 1765 and was named after Union Church. The original church stood near the location of Monarch Mill. It appears that the first settlers arrived in 1749 and greatly grew between the 1760’s and the onset of the American Revolutionary War.

From present day Union, South Carolina, the original route turns left onto State Highway 215 and travels 15 miles to US Highway 72. The route follows the highway for approx. 6 miles until Tuckertown Road is reached. The Tyger River is reached after traveling 7 miles and today is a bridge near the Newberry County line. From the county line to Enoree River crossing is approx. 18 miles. The river looks completely different from the 18th century landscape. The area has been flooded and now has the appearance of a lake where the original crossing ford would have been. From the Enoree River crossing, the route travels for 41 miles crossing the Crims, Wateree and Hollinshead Creeks. The present day route takes you along Broad River Road until you reach Interstate 26.

Tyger River, South Carolina

The road now reaches Saluda River and Lexington County. It is believed that the actual crossing of the river was located at the present day bridge along Interstate 26. The river crossing is 14 miles from Lexington which was originally known as Saxe-Gotha. The community was established in 1735 as one of the 9 original settlements to entice development during the early 18th century. Families were encouraged to travel to these locations, free transportation was provided along with free provisions for one year and free land. Many of the original settlers preferred to own larger tracts of land and to be separated from their neighbors. With this being said, many of these early settlers migrated to other territories and other opportunities. Upon reaching Lexington, the route turns on National Highway 1 and travels 17 miles to Leesville. The settlement of Johnston is reached after traveling 18 miles along the route. The Savannah River is approx. 28 miles from Johnston and the families would navigate the river to reach their destination of Augusta, Georgia.

The Great Wagon Road Consisted Of 800 Miles

Researchers have studied the migration that involved the Great Wagon Road for nearly 200 years. The exact number of families that traveled the road may never be known, but their legacy lives on as present day genealogists and historians strive to document the road. Many are astonished to learn that the historic road is not recognized as a National Historic Trail. Thousands upon thousands of families traveled the route for various reasons. These families suffered hardships that only can be imagined today. They also celebrated an independence and a freedom that encouraged them onward. Their stories of courage deserves to be preserved and honored as well as the original trail itself. It’s up to the present and future generations to complete this goal. Piedmont Trails is proud to announce the involvement of a volunteer group who is currently active on representing this historic trail as a National Treasure. Sharing this data with you all has been a fascinating journey in itself. I encourage you all to travel the route or portions of it, in order to understand the significance and the importance of The Great Wagon Road. During the coming months, Piedmont Trails will share stories of the famous trail complete with details on what your ancestors would have seen and experienced while on the road. Thank You all so much for your support of Piedmont Trails. Wishing you all great success with your research. But, most of all, Enjoy Your Journey To The Past.

The Great Wagon Road Enters Into South Carolina

The previous article left the Great Wagon Road on the banks of the Yadkin River in North Carolina. The road ended at the Shallow Ford Crossing in the year of 1748 before additions were added later. Carolina was a vast wilderness west of the Yadkin River and early settlements were discouraged prior to circa 1730. Edward Hughes operated a tavern in this location for over 50 years. The tavern was in place by 1753. The actual crossing is located near Cornwallis Drive and was comprised of natural stone that was flat across the river and shallow. Although during frequent rains and storms, the area was prone to flooding and would prevent wagons from crossing for days at a time. Early settlers living in this area in 1748 were Morgan Bryan, Squire Boone, James Carter, George Forbush, Samuel Davis and William Linville. It is believed that these settlers all traveled together down the Great Wagon Road from Virginia with the exception of Edward Hughes. According to documents, Edward settled in the area prior to 1748 and traveled from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While traveling, Edward purchased a tract of land in the valley of Virginia during December of 1746 but left the area during the fall of 1747.

From the Shallow Ford crossing, the Great Wagon road ended in 1748 and a small pack horse trail continued from this point to Salisbury, NC. Present day route would be portions of Highway 158, Highway 601 and NC Highway 801. Once on Old Mocksville Road, the original route follows for 8 1/2 miles to Salisbury. This portion of the road was ordered for improvements in 1763 and was completed as a wagon road approx. 1764. Also, from the Shallow Ford crossing, another road was ordered in 1770 that would travel to Mulberry Fields, presently known as Wilkesboro. This road would follow present day Highway 421. It was known to the early settlers as Boone Road, named after Daniel Boone. The road connected to the Wilderness Road and eventually reached Kentucky.

Rowan County, NC

The road ended at Salisbury for a time until 1755 when the road was extended to the Mecklenburg County and the settlement of Charlotte, NC. The present day route follows US Highway 29. Charlotte was originally known as Charlotteburg and was first settled circa 1750. By 1768, the settlement was chartered as a town, largely by Scotch-Irish traders. In most cases, the presence of an inn indicated the location of the county seat. Salisbury and Charlotte both contained inns which allowed the county justices a residence on court days.

The actual route for the Great Wagon Road south of Charlotte has not been fully researched as it has north from Charlotte. Correspondence from historical societies, South Carolina State Archives and libraries support the following route. Traveling south along US Highway 29 to Lancaster County, South Carolina. This boundary was formerly known as the Catawba Indian Nation. This tribe survived the early settlers of the 18th century and survived the American Revolutionary War while fighting with the patriots against Cornwallis. They are a recognized tribe today and many are still living on portions of the original lands.

The road was known to the early settlers as Camden Road or Wagon Road. An historical road marker can be located at Twelvemile Creek which is now a bridge on Harrisburg Road and US Highway 521. Traveling along for 13 miles, you will cross three creeks which are now culverts. The names of these are Fording Causer Branch, Cane Creek and Camp Creek. The road then crosses Gills Creek and enters into present day Lancaster. Lancaster originated as a small settlement as early as 1759. The Waxhaw Presbyterian Church was located in the area during this time period. Lancaster was formed in 1795. Following US Highway 521 for approx. 20 miles, Bear Creek will be visible as well as Kershaw, an early settlement established in 1732. Us Highway 521 continues for approx. 25 miles until the settlement of Camden is reached. Both Camden and Kershaw are treasure troves for early history of South Carolina. Like Kershaw, Camden was established during the year of 1732.

Congaree River Columbia, South Carolina

Camden is located along the Wateree River and was a powerful waterway for the early pioneers. The town was originally named Fredericksburg and Kershaw was known as Pine Tree Hill. From this point, the road takes US Highway 1 and Taylor Street for 30 miles until the Congaree River is reached and the city of Columbia. Continuing on US Highway 1 and Augusta Road, the next 12 miles covers the intersection of present day Interstate 26 and US Highway 1. Lexington is reached on the road after an additional 12 miles. Lexington was formally known as Saxe-Gotha and established in 1735.

Saxe-Gotha Town Plat

Leaving Lexington, the road follows South Carolina Highway 23 for 21 miles to the Edgefield County line. Francis Higgins operated a ferry on the Saluda River and was well-known to many travelers along the road. At this point, the road follows South Carolina Highway 121 for approximate 30 miles until the Savannah River. The travelers would navigate the river to reach Augusta, Georgia.

The next segment of this series will concentrate on another route entering into South Carolina and arriving in Augusta, Georgia. I hope you are enjoying this journey with Piedmont Trails and hoping you are finding new hints and clues for your ancestor’s trails.

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.