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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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The Moravian Settlements

A Guide To History And Genealogy In North Carolina

If you have an ancestor who was living in the Piedmont area of North Carolina during the 18th century, you can rest assure, your ancestor associated with the Moravians or was a member of the Moravian church. This religious group traveled from Pennsylvania in 1753 and purchased 100,000 acres of land in North Carolina. Their first settlement was established in Bethabara in the year of 1754. By 1759, Bethania had been established near the Great Wagon Road which allowed travelers to stop at the small village and trade goods, spend the night and make new acquaintances. During these years, the French and Indian War was creating turmoil in the area. Many families sought refuge within the barriers of Bethabara and Bethania during this time. Other communities were Salem in 1766,  Friedberg, organized in 1773, Friedland in 1780 and Hope in 1780.

wachovia-1766

The Moravians were industrious, hard working and eager to share their religious beliefs with anyone who was willing to listen. All of the settlements were equipped with several businesses that traded various goods needed by the settlers. There were potters, blacksmiths, tailors, wheelwrights, bakers, taverns and doctors. The Moravians used The Great Wagon Road during the 18th century to travel back and forth to Pennsylvania and transport several items back to the Carolina settlements. They would also travel south to Fayetteville and Charleston, South Carolina. Gottlieb Kramer(Cromer), son of Adam Kramer worked for his father, a tailor by trade, and he would also transport goods back and forth via wagon. The settlers depended on the Moravians just as the Moravians depended on the early settlers. Together, they populated and grew the surrounding areas into large towns and communities.

The Moravians had strict rules in order to join their churches and become a member. Majority of the early settlers did not wish to join, but they needed the Moravians to purchase their crops or trade for needed supplies. The settlers also needed the Moravian doctors to attend to the sick which at times included not only the family members but the livestock as well. The Moravian settlements were the center of 18th century living in North Carolina.

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The records of the Moravians portray life during this time vividly and with great detail. The Moravian Archives Southern Province located in Winston-Salem, NC houses thousands upon thousands of records, diaries and journals dating back to 1753. These records contain data on all citizens living in the area and has proven to be a vital asset within my own personal genealogy research. The primary language among the settlements at the beginning was German, but as the years went by, English was spoken everywhere but during church services by the end of the 18th century. So, some of the records may be in old German dialect, but are searchable through the catalog database. The National Moravian Archives are located in Bethlehem, PA and hold all records pertaining to the Moravian church located in the northern region. The online website guides you through the process of researching their vast amount of records. The Moravian Historical Society is affiliated with the Northern Province Archives and together work hard on preserving the history of the Moravian beliefs and customs.

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“Felix Motsinger with a wagon full of turnips to trade. Allotted sugar.” Entry dated January 15th, 1773. The above is a translation from the tavern ledger book of Salem. Another entry: “Mary Hensen arrived from South Carolina wishing to join the brethern. She is an orphan and has nowhere else to turn.” Entry dated spring of 1783. I later located a reference to the same Mary Hensen that she was allowed to become a member of the church. Mary married and moved away from Bethania and lived her remaining days in the Meadows area of Stokes County. These are actual documents that I have collected through the years from the archives. Felix Motsinger was not a member of the church, but he was active within the Moravian settlements. According to the catalog, Felix was documented over 20 times in various journals and documents. This is a prime example of how the Moravians documented their daily activities. Without this vital information, many details of our ancestor’s lives would be forever lost.

The original Wachovia tract pictured earlier, portrays the exact location of the land purchase. In present day, the north line lies within the heart of Rural Hall, the south borders present day Forsyth County line with the east ending at Walkertown and the west ending at Muddy Creek in Clemmons. If you can trace your ancestor to the surrounding area, chances are the Moravian Archives has information pertaining to them.

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During the year of 1756, Indian uprisings occurred all throughout the area and many families living near Bethabara took refuge in the settlement. These families were living west of the Muddy Creek and north into present day Stokes and Surry counties. A typhus epidemic occurred during the summer of 1759 and killed many settlers all throughout the area. Moravian ministers were summoned often to conduct funerals and assist in burying the dead. There were also families located south and to the east in present day Guilford county. The majority traveled the Warrior’s Path from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey and Virginia. Nearly every settler stopped at Bethabara between the years of 1755 to 1759. When Bethania came into existence, Bethabara became a small rural farming community. Bethania was located right on the path of the Great Wagon Road, present day Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem and allowed settlers to stock up on supplies, spend the night and gather local news before heading to their destinations.

Friedberg is located in the northern section of Davidson County. The majority of these members arrived from Broadbay, Maine and were German descent. Friedland is located in Winston-Salem, just south of present day I-40 and High Point Road. Hope is located just east of the Yadkin River near present day Clemmons.

According to the Moravian diaries, no settlers were documented along the Yadkin River prior to 1752. That is not to say that no settlers can be found living in the Yadkin area during the time before 1752. The Moravians noted no settlers when traveling through the area in search for your desired property. Indian parties hunted these grounds and some of their artifacts can still be found today. Settlers who were not members of the Moravian church and settled west of the Wachovia tract are as follows. William Johnson-1757-600 acres, Evan Ellis-1758-651 acres, George McKnight-1762-611 acres, these names were among the largest tracts at that time. Other surnames were Long, Phillips, Matzinger, Teague, Rothrock, Kerner, Tesh, Weavil, Bodenhamer, Green, Collett, Iams, Dean, Crews, Dorsett, Braun, Valentine, Waggoner, Smith and Reid. These settlers arrived prior to 1770.

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The Moravian history of North Carolina affected our ancestor’s daily lives, whether it was trading crops for supplies, seeking medical assistance with the sick or requesting a sermon in someone’s house. The Moravians influenced the culture and the population of the area. Their presence enticed others to follow and settle in North Carolina. By early 19th century, many of the original Moravian customs were abolished such as allowing the church to determine who marries and what job you would have in the community. But, many of the original customs still exist today. For instance, all married women are buried along side of each other as well as married men are buried near other married men. Small boys with small boys and single men buried with other single men. Many Easter Sunrise Services were newsworthy due to the turnout by so many people during the late 19th and 20th centuries. Old Salem, of Winston-Salem offers tours in the 18th century village and the smell of fresh baked bread fills the streets from Winkler Bakery.

As a researcher of genealogy, I am so thankful for the precise record keeping of the 18th century Moravian church. They preserved our history with such vivid detail that it brings the past to the future. Don’t limit yourself on your search, visit the areas of your ancestors and contact local churches. You never know, you just might locate the missing link from your family tree. As always, Thank You all so much for your support and I wish you well on your research. Enjoy your journey!!

From Pennsylvania To New Lands

The Great Wagon Road
Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of a 3 part segment dedicated to “The Great Wagon Road”. This road played a vital part with many of our ancestors traveling southward and westward to new lands and opportunities. The road originally began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and followed The Great Warriors Path which was an Indian trail that many different tribes used. If your ancestor left from Philadelphia, they probably started from 248 Market Street. This was the origin point for most of the mail carriers that began as early as 1750. They would travel 63 miles to reach Conestoga Creek and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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From Lancaster, the road reached York and then Gettysburg. Present day US Highway 30 basically follows the same route that our ancestors used in the 18th century. The changing seasons allowed fair weather or stormy clouds, high rivers or low-lying creek beds. The taverns and inns along the way provided information on what the road had in store for the travelers. These early businesses advertised with signs displaying artwork to demonstrate their services. This was especially helpful to the travelers who were unable to read and write. Some well-known tavern keepers were Casper Fahnestock, Evan Watkins, Thomas Harrison and Valentin Sevier.

TavernSignBissell

From Gettysburg, the wagons headed towards the Potomac River, present day US Highway 11 crosses the river almost exactly where Watkins Ferry crossed in the 18th century. During the years of 1744 through 1770, the ferry was operated from dawn to dusk poling the large boat ferry back and forth across the river. The “boat” grew larger with each year and could easily transport several wagons as well as horses and cattle. When we think of The Great Wagon Road, we must also remember that this road was also used as a route for farmers to get their livestock and goods to market for sale. So, several of our ancestors would be met with huge herds of cattle, sheep, pigs, etc. Many of our ancestors would have a cow attached to the wagon with a rope and it would not be out of the ordinary to find a pig or two as well. Chickens were stored in a pen and transported on the wagon. From Watkins Ferry, the road winds southward to Winchester, Virginia. Present day, Interstate 81 is very close to the original route. To reach Winchester, it would have taken approx. 3 weeks if the weather was fair. Phillip Bush’s Inn was famous and known to all of the travelers that passed through the area. Winchester was a small village and it was founded in 1744.

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From Winchester, the route takes present day Interstate 81 and makes its way southward to Harrisonburg with the Shenandoah Mountains to the east. The road becomes very rough in this area during the 1740s up to the 1760s. The terrain is up and down and many travelers became weary due to sickness. Supplies are running out and the weight of their personal possessions are beginning to wear down on the travelers. The lucky ones have horses and could travel much quicker, 20 miles or more a day. Many had handmade carts and many simply walked with their possessions on their backs. This was a very long trip, taking months to complete and the weather, depending on the season, would make traveling much more difficult. When the travelers reached Staunton, Virginia, they all would have been aware of the Indian raids during the 1750s. Staunton was known as the Valley of Virginia and many German and Scottish settlers settled in this area from 1743 through the 1750s. A stone house was built with an underground passage that led to a spring. Many of these first settlers lost their lives during Indian raids. Captain Robert McKenzie visited the area in 1757 and found nothing  of the original settlement except for spears, broken tomahawks and ashes of burnt homes and huts. Indian attacks were frequent along the Wagon Road as it traveled through Virginia and into the Carolinas. Our ancestors often traveled in groups for protection. The Shawnee were very active in this area and the travelers would have been fully aware of this as they traveled through Staunton.

The New River

The above picture shows New River near Fort Chiswell, Virginia. This picture displays the terrain our ancestors were faced with in this area. From Staunton to Fort Chiswell is approx. 144 miles. During this portion of the trip, supplies could be purchased in Big Lick, today known as Roanoke.

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After crossing the Roanoke River, travelers could take a new trail westward on the new Wilderness Road, or stay on the The Great Wagon Road into the piedmont area of North Carolina. This marks the end of segment 1 of our 3 part series. The next blog will focus on the entry of North Carolina by our ancestors on this historic route. Below portrays a list of supplies that would have been packed on the wagons.

Food Supplies

200 pounds of flour
30 pounds of pilot bread (hardtack)
75 pounds of bacon
10 pounds of rice
5 pounds of coffee
2 pounds of tea
25 pounds of sugar
½ bushel of dried beans
1 bushel of dried fruit
2 pounds of saleratus (baking soda)
10 pounds of salt
½ bushel of corn meal
½ bushel of corn, parched and ground
1 small keg of vinegar

Water would have been collected along the way and stored in a barrel. All of these items, depending on the quantity, would have been added weight on the wagon or cart. Their personal items may have included tools such as an axe, hatchet, shovel, hammer, animal traps and rope. They would also have household items such as butter churn, butter mold, candles, cooking utensils, dishes, coffee grinder, bedding, clothing, lantern and personal items such as Family Bible, books, doll, rifle and pistol.

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The next segment will cover North Carolina and the piedmont settlement. Please share your comments and your knowledge of The Great Wagon Road.