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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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!!

18th Century Settlers of Stokes County, NC

Segment 6

Welcome to the final segment of this series. Stokes county was formed from Surry County in 1789 and Germanton was the county seat. Later, Forsyth County formed and the county seat of Stokes became Crawford. The name later changed to Danbury. This series has remembered only a small amount of history that Stokes County offers. The county is filled with historical artifacts and family stories. It is up to all of us to find these treasures and preserve them for future generations.

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David Rominger(1716-1777) was married in 1741 and living in Broad Bay, Maine. He was assigned Lot number 13 which consisted of 100 acres. His wife died in 1752 and he married a widow with a large family of children. In 1769, David and his son, Phillip, migrated to North Carolina. In 1770, David’s second wife and children joined him in North Carolina where she died that same year. David settled in Bethabara and is buried in Salem Cemetery. David’s brother, Michael(1709-1803), of whom was the oldest of the siblings and was a carpenter by trade. Michael served 3 years as a soldier in the Royal Regiment and left to marry Anna Katharina Anton(1717-1794) on December 26, 1740 in Germany. The family sailed for America and lived in Broad Bay, Maine from 1753 to 1770. In 1770, Michael sold his farm and migrated to North Carolina by way of The Great Wagon Road. The family lived in Friedland and had the following children: Elisabetha-1741, Jacob-1743, Johannes-1745, George-1747, Ludwig, Martin-1752, Catharina-1755, Jacobina, Michael-1759, Christian-1762 and an infant daughter who died. A future blog about this family and their life experiences will be featured here at a later date.

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Phillip Rothrock(1713-1803) arrived from Germany on the ship, Pink Mary. The year was 1733. He lived near Yorktown, Pennsylvania with his wife, Catharine Kemtoz(1720-1777). They were married in 1720 at Rothenback, Germany. After the American Revolutionary War, Phillip and his family migrated to North Carolina. The family settled at Friedburg and are shown as farm lot number 120. Phillip had a total  of 9 sons named here. Jacob-1741, Johannes-1744, Phillip Jr.-1746, Peter-1746, George-1748, Valentine-1751, Benjamin-1753, Joseph-1755 and Frederick-1760. Phillip Jr married Elizabeth Weller(1749-1839) in October of 1769. Phillip purchased 1060 acres near Friedburg, NC. He was an active member with the Moravian Church serving as steward in 1791. Phillip Jr. along with two of his brothers, Valentine and Peter, all served in the Continental Army under George Washington. They all returned to Pennsylvania to enlist and serve during the war. All returned to North Carolina when the war ended. Children born to Phillip Jr. and Elizabeth are Jacob-1770, Frederick-1772, Eva-1774, George-1777, Johannes-1779, Joseph-1782, Phillip-1785, Martin-1787, Christian-1790 and Daniel-1794.

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Joseph Scales was born in 1765 and died June 20, 1832. He was the son of John Scales and Lydia McClaren. The family has a fascinating early history in Guilford County, NC. Joseph married Nancy Alley(1777-1820) and both are buried in the family cemetery located in Sandy Ridge. The couple had at least 6 children; Absalom(1798-1859), Sally(1801), Jane(1803-1878), Nathaniel(1806-1827), Joseph(1811-1839) and Andrew(1813-1839).

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Present Day Pfaffenhofen

Adam Spach was born January 20, 1720 at Pfaffenhofen in Lower Alsace, Germany. He died August 23, 1801 in Salem, North Carolina. He was married to Maria Elisabeth Hueter on December 17, 1752. Maria was born April 1, 1731 and died October 26, 1799 in North Carolina. In 1754, Adam and Maria traveled the Great Wagon Road to North Carolina and settled near Wachovia, the Moravian settlement. The couple traveled with the Nathaniel Seidel party and left in the month of May. Adam built the rock house, pictured below and raised the following children: Johann Adam(1753-1816), Maria(1756-1777), Rosina(1758-1849), Maria Elisabeth(1760-1846), John(1762-1844), Gottlieb(1764-1814), Anna(1766-1858), Jacob(1768-1856) and Joseph(1771-1820).

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Adam Spach Rock House

John Tuttle was born in 1761 and died in 1840. His father is Thomas Tuttle and both  enlisted with the NC militia during the year of 1778. In 1782, both Thomas and son John migrated to present day Stokes County. John married Anna Barbara Fry on June 16, 1783. John and Anna Tuttle had the following children: Thomas-1784, Michael-1786, Elizabeth-1788, Mary-1790, Anna-1793, Henry-1795, John-1797, William-1799, Peter-1802, Elijah-1806 and Sarah-1809.

These early settlers of Stokes County were brave pioneers who traveled The Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and other northern areas to reach North Carolina.  These families would travel with others known as a “party”. Preparations would be made prior to the trip such as rations, supplies, etc. Many times, the travelers would not know one another before they headed down the trail. But, upon their arrival in North Carolina, it is now understood that these families were forever bonded together in life. A huge amount of these families would send members of the family back and forth along the road for various reasons. Many left matters unsettled prior to them leaving their homes and many would be sent for encouraging or visiting family members that were left behind.

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The pioneers who traveled here prior to the American Revolutionary War were vulnerable. Carolina was known as a wilderness, a wild frontier. This explains the reasoning behind Adam Spach and his rock house. The homes were made to be secure and guarded the family unit from the wild elements around them. The Cherokee did not welcome the new settlers and were still considered a threat during the mid 18th century. There are many stories and factual data containing information of Cherokee raids upon the early settlers.

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Martin Rock House in Stokes County

These 6 segments have only scratched the surface with Stokes County settlers and early history. The treasures of the past are so vivid all throughout the county and I hope this small series encourages all of you to research more into Stokes County and it’s early inhabitants. As Always, Thank You All So Much for your support of Piedmont Trails. Share your experiences of your journey and most of all, enjoy the trails.

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Life In 18th Century North Carolina

Prior to the Revolutionary War

Life in the 18th century was very much different from life as we all know it today. The pioneers who migrated from Pennsylvania down The Great Wagon Road were optimistic and filled with hope. They brought with them important items that pertained to their well-being, their faith and their sentimental values.  While they endured the hard trip, many would face great hardships and losses in the near future. This segment will focus on the settler’s lives and living on the Carolina frontier.

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The Yadkin River is pictured above with Pilot Mountain in the foreground. West of the Yadkin River was not very popular during the mid 18th century. So, for many of our ancestors, the Yadkin River was the line between settlements and wilderness. Once the land was chosen by the head of the family, namely, the father, the family began unloading their belongings. Trees would fall in order for a new home to shelter the family and the livestock. Farming would begin almost immediately. 90% of our ancestors were farmers and they farmed in all seasons if weather permitted. The man of the house was expected to provide food and shelter for his family. In order to accomplish this, farming was essential to the way of life for everyone.

The piedmont area of North Carolina was once the hunting and grazing lands of the Cherokee. The land was fertile and plentiful. The pioneers would select huge land tracts and begin improvements. The family unit was vital to the survival of the early settlers.  Everyone in the family had a job to do on a daily basis. It was up to the father of the house to oversee these chores and to make sure they were completed to his fashion.

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The wife, or the lady of the house would be responsible for the family garden and herbs. She would also be required to prepare the meals and tend to the smaller children. Clothing would be made by her, also milking the cows and washing the garments as well. The mother would also be required to educate her daughters with the knowledge they would need for their future families. Any possessions she had prior to marriage would belong to her husband until his death. Once the husband died, the wife would inherit 1/3 of his property and could legally own it until she remarried or died.

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The children would all wear dresses until they reached the age of 5, give or take a year or two. These little ones were allowed to freely play at their leisure and either the mother or an older sister would tend to their needs daily.  As the children grew older, their responsibilities and their daily routines would change. The boys would go with their father to learn about farming, livestock, hunting and more while the girls would be with their mother to learn of sewing, cooking, gardening, etc.

A sample of a daily chore list:

Baby Elizabeth-age 1 plays with her corn husk doll

George-age 3 follows his older sister, Mary and tries to help

Adam-age 6 gathers wood and cleans the chicken house

Mary-age 10 finishes her sampler, milks the cow, gathers eggs, helps to feed livestock and helps tend to Baby Elizabeth

Christina-age 13 sews linens, pulls weeds in the garden, prepares beans for drying, attends fire at smokehouse.

John-age 15 tending wheat field, attends to livestock, checks on hogs in woods and hunts in the afternoon

Henry-age 17 is harvesting corn from the upper field

Michael-age 19 is with his father clearing new land for a larger corn crop next season

Elizabeth-age 41 is washing clothes, cleaning the home and preparing venison that John brought home the day before

Michael-age 43 is clearing land with his son and begins preparing for a trip to the mill in the morning with a portion of his corn crop-a full day trip

As you can see, one day in the 18th century required a huge amount of work, dedication and responsibility.  The weather played a vital role in the farmer’s life.  The fields could only yield what the weather would allow. Farmers based their success on the success of their crops. Wheat and corn were planted in huge tracts.

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Wheat allowed flour to be made and corn allowed cornmeal to be made. The family garden consisted of white beans, chard, pumpkins, scarlet runner beans, cucumbers, squash, peppers, carrots, peas, cabbage and lettuce. Herbs were also planted such as horehound, sage, nasturtium, hyssop and winter savory. Many settlers used limewater as a natural pesticide on their plants. Wooden traps were created to entice slugs and snails. They would also carry water to their gardens during dry and hot summers.

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Usually, the settler would clear three fields keeping two active and the third one fallowed or unused. This method would allow the field to rest in between planting. Some farmers, however, believed that planting turnips in a fallowed field would restore nutrients back into the land. The turnips allowed food for the livestock or they were traded or sold. The livestock would be butchered in early winter to endure the family through the harsh colder days of winter. These settlers, for the most part, were already adapting to the winters of Carolina much better versus the Pennsylvania’s winters.

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To the 18th century farmer, there were many obstacles that stood in his way of progress. Sickness could overwhelm the family such as a smallpox outbreak. From the Moravaian diaries, we find that such an epidemic occurred in the piedmont area of Carolina in the spring of 1759. The incubation period was usually 2 weeks and then the person would have a high fever with blisters appearing if they survived the fever. Smallpox was capable of destroying entire communities. Fire was also a huge threat. Lightening strikes were very common and a family could lose all of their possessions in a matter of minutes.

The farmer depended on his neighbors for help with harvesting, building and any large project that he himself, with his family, could not handle alone. Neighboring events would also provide entertainment with music, dancing and the partake of distilled spirits. Local news would be shared with neighbors and friends as well in order to keep up with the latest events.

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One of the most important items belonging to the first settlers appears to be their family Bible. Many churches were organized during the mid 18th century, telling us that faith and religion were vital to the pioneers. On the Carolina Frontier, they all were able to freely worship and practice their religion beliefs. Through hard work and being faithful to their religion, the first settlers believed they would all prevail and succeed on the frontier.

Tracing our family heritage not only contains names and dates, it also provides a link to a life that once was filled with details, chores, happiness and heartfelt losses. Thank you so much for your support of Piedmont Trails and join us again on the next blog when we begin to hear shouts of liberty from Carolina patriots and the onset of the Revolutionary War.

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Carolina Frontier Settlements

The Importance of March 25, 1752 in North Carolina

North Carolina was considered a frontier in 1752; an unsettled region with vast amounts of land opportunities. As discussed in the previous blog, the Great Wagon Road allowed access to this area and growth occurred quickly. March 25, 1752 was an important date due to the last new year’s day in England and her colonies under the Julian system of chronology. This day was also important to 49 settlers living near the Yadkin River and north of Lord Granville’s boundary. These 49 settlers were issued land grants, the largest amount from Lord Granville’s agents on a single date.

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This segment will concentrate on 15 of these 49 settlers. They are Samuel Blythe, Robert Allison, Thomas Allison, Fergus Graham, James Hill, Henry Huey, Andrew Kerr, William Morrison, Robert Reed, Henry White, Moses White, Benjamin Winsley, Alexander McCulloch and John McCulloch.

Robert and Thomas Allison settled along the waters of Fourth Creek after migrating from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Their houses were two miles apart and were more than likely related, but have no definite proof of this. Read more about Fourth Creek Settlement here.

William Morrison was one of 4 brothers who migrated from Ireland with their father, James Morrison in 1730. William and Hugh Morrison settled in Nantmeal Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania before 1737. William later became a tax collector in 1746 in Colerain, Lancaster County. William Morrison’s brothers, Andrew and James were also living in Lancaster County during the years of 1742-1747 and followed William to North Carolina. William’s 1st tract of land adjoined John McConnell’s property near Davidson’s Creek Settlement. According to Rowan County, NC Deeds, 111, 372; William purchased land along Third Creek where he operated a mill and built his house. William died in 1771 at the age of 67. His brother, Andrew died in 1770 at the age of 52.

James Miller from New Castle County, Delaware settled along Fifth Creek in Rowan County, NC. He owned 560 acres and died prior to October 21, 1761 when his farm was sold at auction.

Samuel and Margaret Blythe had 4 sons and daughters who were baptized at the first Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between the years of 1718 and 1725. Samuel Blythe was living in Lancaster County in 1733. This Samuel Blythe died in 1775 in Cumberland County, PA and his namesake migrated to North Carolina and settled on Sill’s Creek near the property of Felix Kennedy in Rowan County, NC.

Fergis Graham migrated from Chester County and he appears on the tax list of 1737-1738.

James Hill owned 640 acres on the branch of Second Creek. He later sold the property to Henry Schiles in 1754.

James and Henry Huey  lived in Chester County during the years of 1739 and 1740. Robert Huey was living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1737. Henry Huey later arrived in North Carolina and purchased 612 acres on the north bank of Fourth Creek, Rowan County, NC.

Andrew and John Kerr purchased lands four miles from one another along Third Creek, Rowan County, NC. They both migrated from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

The Reed family settled in Nottingham township between 1738 and 1743. Robert Reed left Pennsylvania shortly after 1743 and arrived in North Carolina. He obtained a land grant on Marlin’s Creek. He later sold his property and was living in Orange County, NC in 1761.

Henry White, with his wife, Johanna, were living in Rapho Township, Lancaster County, PA when he sold his land on May 22, 1749. He soon left for North Carolina where he obtained his land grant in 1752.

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James McCulloch with his two sons, John and Alexander, obtained lands between George Davidson and the Catawba River. James McCulloch originated from Fallowfield township, Chester County, PA and settled there in 1739. He left for North Carolina approx. 1747. His will was probated in 1758 and mentioned 4 sons and a grandchild.

Moses White settled along the Davidson’s Creek as well as Benjamin Winsley.

These first settlers traveled mainly from Pennsylvania to reach the lands of North Carolina before the Great Wagon Road was no more than a 4ft. path in many areas. They traveled the route before many inhabitants settled along the trail. In other words, the route they took to arrive in North Carolina was a frontier of wilderness. Once they obtained their land grants, they married, had children and prospered. Ten years later, the Great Wagon Road was referred to as a “road” and no longer a trail or path. The first pioneers paved the way for others to follow their footsteps into the Carolina frontier.

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Kerr Mill, Rowan County, NC