Genealogy Tips For 18th & 19th Century Ancestors

10 Things You Should Know About Your Ancestors

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A new interest with genealogy has arrived with DNA discoveries. The surge of testing has many following the procedure of determining the results and linking the evidence. Many queries arriving at Piedmont Trails are filled with requests to link themselves to a person of the early 18th century or earlier. For many, the reality of this specific task becomes very confusing as they begin to tread into unknown territories. On a personal note, my interest with genealogy has been with me much longer than the discovery of DNA. In fact, over thirty years of research has equipped me with a huge amount of resources. This experience has allowed me to locate the actual paper trail of my ancestors and has filled my journey with so many details and treasures. It’s this particular paper trail that will provide the proof from you to your newly discovered DNA relatives. Without this proof, you will not be able to link the desired DNA results to you or any other members of your family tree. It’s important to understand this first before you begin searching randomly through vast amounts of records.

Piedmont Trails will be introducing my personal techniques for genealogy researching entitled, “Footstep Tracking” on the Family Pages website next month. This unique method containing genealogy research techniques, has proven successful for me personally, time and time again. Before, I release the details and step by step instructions for Footstep Tracking, I want to share with you all, the 10 most important things you should know about each and every ancestor associated with your family tree. Without the knowledge of these 10 important details, your tree will have gaps and may mislead you to research in areas and locations that are unnecessary. For this segment, we will be focusing on the ancestors from the 18th and 19th centuries, namely 1700s and 1800s. Let’s begin with number 1 on the list.

#1-NAME

Number 1 is knowing the name of your ancestor. Every ancestor was born with a name given to them. This name is recorded time and time again on legal documents all during their lifespan. Make sure you have the legal name that was originally given to your ancestor. You will need to pinpoint and distinguish between nicknames, alias names and imposters. The legal name should be the name shown on your family tree. Other names that may have been used are details associated with their lives. Make no mistake, our ancestors often used various names, even on legal documents. I will explain more about this on the Footstep Tracking method arriving next month.

#2 & #3-BIRTH & DEATH DATE

Birth and Death dates are essential to your research. These dates enable you to create a timeline for your ancestor. Without a timeline, you will spend much of your research time searching useless records that have nothing to do with your ancestor at all. Steps 1 through 3 are your vital statistics and I suggest you have these facts prior to adding any other details about your ancestor on your personal family tree. I say this due to this very important reason; you may mistakenly add the wrong data and this data may lead you in the wrong direction to locate more records and documents.

#4-MARRIAGE

Marriage dates and details not only provide proof of the lineage continuing through to their children, but it allows the researcher to gain insights on the details of the person’s life. For example, where did the marriage ceremony take place? What kind of ceremony was it? Who were in attendance? Several of my ancestors married many times throughout their lives and they had children outside of their marriages as well. Marriage certificates and licenses are legal documents that prove your ancestor’s existence at a particular point within their timeline.

#5-GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION

In order to fully research your ancestor, you must determine the geographical location of his/her existence at any particular time. Land deeds/grants and census records are just a few sources that can distinguish this location for you. Once the location has been proven, documents can be retrieved from the immediate area. Sorting through local records are an amazing journey. In order to perform this task efficiently, you must understand what records are available and the location of these specific documents. As I’ve said many times, “Location, Location, Location! It is the key to successfully removing those brick walls.”

#6 & #7-BURIAL & RELIGION

The location and details of the burial are extremely important to your research as well. You may find that your early ancestor from 1735 does not have a specific burial plot. This is true with many families living during this time period. However; burials from the 18th and 19th centuries were greatly influenced by the person’s own personal religion. Churches have been documenting records since their existence and so much of this data is waiting on you to discover. Once you’ve determined the faith of your ancestor, you gain the knowledge of possible locations where faith was practiced. Then, the pattern begins with sorting through local church records and finding the burial location if available. Religious documents are a source of huge amounts of genealogy material.

#8-MILITARY SERVICES

Ancestors from the 18th and 19th centuries are most likely to have served in a military action of some kind. These records can be found both locally and nationally. It is vital in knowing these facts in order to fully understand the details of your ancestor and the family unit. I mention the family unit due to the fact that any military action performed by a family member did indeed affect the entire household in many ways. During the time frame of this period, you have The French Indian War, The American Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Mexican War, The Civil War and The Spanish American War. You also have the Indian Wars from the onset of arrival in America up through the 19th century. Some sort of military action is greater than 75% for all families of this time period. Subscriptions or fees are not required to gain knowledge of this information. I will have more about the techniques that I personally use on Footstep Tracking.

#9-OCCUPATION

It is just as important to know what your ancestor did to support their family. This will lead to other documents such as trading or selling of merchandise, performing works as a blacksmith or farmer or conducting business as an attorney or tax collector. Also, be aware that women of this time period performed a variety of jobs as well. Don’t overlook your female ancestors when it comes to occupation research. Children as well performed duties that supported the family. Once you begin to learn of this, you will be amazed at your findings. Regardless of the occupation, knowing this information will enable you to conduct a more detailed search and discover more facts about your ancestor.

#10-MIGRATION ROUTES

90% of families from the 18th and 19th centuries migrated to another area. This location may have been less than 10 miles from the original location or it may have been thousands of miles away. The fact remains that this era witnessed daily migrations from one place to another from 90% of the time period population. Knowing these migration routes are essential to your research. It will enable you to learn of stops along the way that your ancestor may have made. It will also enable you to learn the condition of the route during that time period and how popular the route was. I personally view these early migration patterns as the “latest thing”. In other words, the general public today views the new mobile phone as the greatest thing. So, the majority buys the new cell phone. This is how our ancestors viewed the adventure from one place to another. It was popular and the “latest thing”. Studying neighbor’s actions as well as your ancestor’s actions will reveal many details and clues on their travels.

Take a moment to glance at your personal family tree. Do you have these 10 important facts for each of your ancestors from the 18th and 19th centuries? Many modern day hobby genealogists think that all of this data can be quickly accessible by online searching or by subscribing and paying fees to an online genealogy company. This simply is not true. Less than 20% of genealogy records can be found online. Regardless if you have a paid subscription or not. Personally, I’ve never subscribed to any genealogy company and why? There is simply no need to do so. Also, many online records are not accurate due to transcribing errors, etc. If you have any questions or comments about researching your family genealogy, post them here at the article or contact Piedmont Trails at the website link. I am so excited to bring you my personal techniques with “Footstep Tracking” next month. Stay tuned for the launching date. As always, Piedmont Trails wishes to Thank each of you for your support. The websites have grown so much during the past year. It is amazing to see all of the followers and we Thank You all so much!!

Everyone experiences discouragement with their genealogy research, but don’t allow this frustration to overwhelm you. I currently have so many projects going on, that I often take breaks from my personal research. When I do return, I often find new direction with small hints and clues that I may have overlooked before. The main thing to remember is to have fun with your research and Enjoy Your Journey !!

Early Settlers of Ashe County, NC

Segment 1

Ashe County, founded in 1799 from Wilkes County, is located in the western mountains of North Carolina. It is named for Colonel Samuel Ashe, an American Revolutionary War veteran, a judge and former governor of North Carolina. The county seat is Jefferson, named for President Thomas Jefferson and established in 1800. An old buffalo trail allowed a path to the area near the New River, east of present day Boone, NC. This original trail traveled from the coast of North Carolina, through the Yadkin valley and up through the mountainous terrain located in the western section of the state. The trail moved further west through Kentucky and onward to the Great Lakes region. Indians used the Buffalo Trail for centuries with each generation learning from the former. Not only did they travel, but they also hunted along the trail. This was a means of migrating for the Indians as they moved across the wilderness of Carolina.

Community Map of Ashe County, NC

During the mid 18th century, men would venture into this area in order to hunt along the same trail that the Indians used for hundreds of years. These men were otherwise known as “Long Hunters”, the name was not attributed to the long rifles they most frequently used, but rather the length of time they would spend on hunting expeditions. These men were adventurous and courageous. They depended on their skills for survival and hunting game to provide for their families in way of fur trading, food, etc. Many of the Long Hunters would travel in packs of 18 to 20 men setting up a Station Camp in the wilderness. The party would set out on the trail in October and return by March or April of the following year. Two pack horses for each man was common along with various supplies such as lead, powder, bellows, hand vise, files, screwplates, tomahawks, flour, etc. They would return home with fur pelts and hides used for trading and selling on the market within the surroundings of their home.

Aerial View of the New River, Ashe County, NC

One of the early Long Hunters was John Findley who led Daniel Boone through the Cumberland Gap in 1769 on the way to Kentucky. Michael Stoner accompanied Daniel Boone to Kentucky in 1774 to warn a surveying party of possible Indian attacks. James Dysart, Castleton Brooks and James Knox became very wealthy due to their skills from the hunting expeditions. Elisha Wallen created a huge Station Camp in 1761 in present day Ashe County, NC. William Carr was a known Long Hunter as well as Humphrey Hogan who later became a school teacher and was later located in Washington County, Virginia in 1778.

After the French and Indian war, this area was defined by a line cresting the mountain tops. All lands that held waters flowing west towards the Mississippi were named “backwaters”. These lands were prohibited from early settlement prior to 1763. Before the American Revolutionary war, Thomas Calloway moved his family to the area. He was a well known captain of the colonial troops during the French and Indian war. The home was located along the New River between Beaver Creek and the Obids Creek. Thomas Calloway(1700-1800) and Daniel Boone were good friends and hunted together in the area several times. Thomas is buried near the New River Bridge located along Highway 163. It is rumored that the original stone seen on Thomas Calloway’s grave site was given to the family by Daniel Boone. William Doub Bennett was known to have several hunting cabins during the early 1750’s, near the New River prior to the French and Indian war. The cabins are noted by General Griffith Rutherford when he led the militia against the Indians in 1760. He documented the location of several cabins used by hunters in 1763.

Richard Baugess Mill on Big Windfall Creek

Despite the discouragement of settling this area prior to 1763, Virginia encouraged early settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains. This act was to remove the French from the Ohio Valley during the French and Indian war. The New River was named at this time in honor of Mr. New who operated a ferry near Radford, Virginia. Prior to the name, the river was known to hunters as Wood’s River in honor of Major Abraham Wood who arrived in the area as early as 1654. During the mid 18th century, Ulrich Kessler purchased land in the area with 300pds. He was a well known preacher who at times became intoxicated prior to church services. Ulrich encouraged his congregation to follow him and this brought new settlers to the area. This article will focus on a small portion of the early settlers. Piedmont Trails will have several segments on this series in the coming months.

Micajah Pennington was the son of Isaac Pennington of Goodstone Manor, Kent England. Micajah was born in 1743 and arrived to the colonies as a young man. His father, Isaac, was the father-in-law of William Penn of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is believed that through this connection, Micajah arrived in Philadelphia and migrated down the Great Wagon Road to Carolina. He married Rachel Jones in January of 1761 and the couple had at least nine children. Elijah, Micakah, Mary, Levie, Edward, Rachel, Elizabeth, Sarah and Joahaner. During the year of 1785, Micajah received a land grant of 100 acres along Elk Creek in present day Ashe County. Pennington Gap, Virginia was named after Micajah’s son, Edward settled in the area during the year of 1802. Elijah married Susannah on 9/9/1800 and continued to live in the Ashe County area. The couple had a son, Elijah Pennington who married Mary Osborne and they had the following children; Isaac, Elijah, Lue, Peggy, Sarah and Mary.

Isaac Pennington (great grandson of Micajah Pennington) with wife Martita Osborne Pennington

Henry Dulhuer was located in North Carolina during the late 18th century. A total of two land deeds can be found for him in present day Ashe County. 100 acres along Buffalo Creek was purchased with sixty silver dollars from Peter Fouts in 1801. 300 acres which was originally granted to Lawrence Younce, later granted to Peter Fouts and eventually listed the owner as Henry Dulhuer. Henry and his wife had at least two daughters, but the fate of this couple would end in tragedy. According to family historians, Henry prepared for a trip to New York during the years of 1805 and 1810. He never returned home. The facts are not known concerning his disappearance, but it was widely known through the community that Henry was traveling to New York for a patent for his new invention. During this same time period, the wife of Henry died from burns received from fighting a house fire. The two daughters, Katy and Anna were orphans at a young age. Katy married David Burkett in 1817 and Anna married Daniel Bowman. Anna and Daniel migrated west to Indiana and was settled in the area by 1850. Katy and David had two sons, Daniel and David Jr. David Burkett died in 1820 leaving young Katy a widow. She never remarried and raised her two sons in Ashe County. Katy died after 1860. She is shown on the 1860 census living with her son, David Burkett Jr.

I gazed upon the sunrise as it stretched it’s rays over the mountain I took a breath from the new day Remembering the long dusty miles and the cold rain The wagon wheels may rest today This valley with it’s fresh water and fertile soil is all I need At long last, I am home

Piedmont Trails

William Miller arrived in New Jersey from England circa 1752 leaving his fiancée, Mary Aldridge behind. William bound himself out in order to earn money for Mary’s passage. She arrived circa 1764 and the couple were married. They migrated along the Great Wagon Road to Carolina and first settled in the Jersey Settlement of Rowan County. By 1783, the couple had moved to the western section of the colony and was living in present day Meat Camp community of Ashe County. The couple’s son, William Miller Jr. was elected to the NC House of Representatives in 1824. He died one year later.

Luke White served in the militia from Wilmington District, NC according to many family members. However; the documents that would prove this statement have not been discovered as of yet. The New Hanover courthouse was burned in 1798, 1819 and 1840 and this would have been the prime target to find these resources. It is believed that Luke was born in Virginia circa 1750 and died during the year of 1820 in Ashe County. Luke married Elizabeth Yokley prior to 1773. Luke and Elizabeth lived along Roans Creek where Elizabeth died prior to 1810. The children of this couple are Elilzabeth, Susan, Nancy, Sallie, Mary, Catherine, James, David, John, Luke Jr and William.

Back Roads of Ashe County, NC

Rev. William Ashley was one of the earliest Methodist preachers in present day Ashe County. William was born in Surry County, NC and married Elizabeth Calhoun in 1778. The couple moved to the western section of the state by 1815 and were living in the Little Horse Creek area. William became the minister of Methodist Episcopal Church in Warrensville. At the time, the family had moved to Staggs Creek. A private cemetery overlooking the North Fork of the New River has remained on the family property for over 150 years. William died January 31, 1852 and the couple had eight children. Polly, Cynthia, Cary, Frances, Nancy Malinda, Spencer, Zilphia and James Porter Ashley.

The community of Scottsville was named after Frank Scott who operated a store in the area. Warrensville was first settled in 1826 and was then known as Buffalo Creek. It was renamed in honor of a man who operated the first grist and sawmill in the community. Crumpler was named after Major Crumpler, a confederate officer. It’s interesting to know that the aristocracy of eastern Carolina during the mid 18th century referred to the early frontiersmen of the western lands as “offscourings of the earth” and “fugitives of justice.” As research has proven, many families settled this vast wilderness when it was illegal to do so. Opinions will vary to the reasoning behind their migration, but a well known fact supports the determination shown by these early families. The farming of rocky soil was strenuous and the continued threats by Indians were common. By 1810, the wilderness had transformed to a beautiful landscape portrait. The inhabitants lived in peace and remote from the ever changing environment below the mountains. To learn more about the history of Ashe County, visit the history of 1914.

This is the end of segment 1 of this series. Segment 2 will be arriving soon. We Thank You so much for your support of Piedmont Trails and wish you great success on your research. Enjoy your journey !!

Opening Doors With Free Genealogy Research

Piedmont Trails has received a huge amount of questions and queries concerning free genealogy techniques. Due to the overwhelming response, Piedmont Trails made the decision to dedicate a blog segment covering the subject. This article will focus on the advantages and the “know-how” of researching without a paid subscription or any type of membership fee attached.

Subscription fees can add up very quickly when it pertains to genealogy. Some companies charge as much as $400.00 yearly to acquire genealogy records and separate fees for DNA testing results. Family lineage software varies as well from $25.00 up to over $200.00 depending on the size and the capabilities of the software. You have to ask yourself, are the fees really worth it? Genealogy research is so much more than researching online references. It involves an adventure, an expedition, a journey that you may be totally missing.

Genealogy Research Is So Much More Than Researching Online References

As with so many researchers of today’s social schedule, time is less available and the online tools are more appealing for this reason alone. But, there is a huge problem with this realm of thinking. Less than 20% of genealogy records and documents are available online. To those who are paying a $200.00 to a $400.00 yearly subscription, these results vary very little. In fact, less than 5% differs from subscription online resources and non-subscription resources. So, with all of this being said, what is the best way to research genealogy in 2019?

The first thing to do is to pinpoint your “family” and then to pinpoint that particular family location. In order to pinpoint a family, you need the family name. In order to pinpoint a location, you need to verify this by a census or a tax list or a land grant or a will/probate. If you don’t have this, start with what you know only. Example: John Smith-family and Stokes County, NC-location. Many of today’s researchers search randomly from one surname to another and filling in the blanks from online trees and other forms of false identification. Free range research does not support accurate results in genealogy. This type of researching only results in clues and hints. Secondly, create a timeline for this family.

  • Example of Timeline:
  • 1750-birth of John Smith
  • 1760-
  • 1770-
  • 1771-Land Grant#452-John Smith 100 acres Dan River-Surry County, NC
  • 1771-marriage of John Smith to Agnes Blackwell-Surry County, NC-6/11/1771
  • 1780-
  • 1784-tax lists for John Smith-3 cattle and 100 acres of land near Dan River
  • 1790-federal census-John Smith-1,2,0,1,0-Stokes County, NC
  • 1800-
  • 1810-Federal census-#101-John Smith-Stokes County, NC
  • 1820-
  • 1830-
  • 1831-Probate of John Smith-Stokes County, NC 4/15/1831

This is now your starting point for researching this particular family. You have the surname, head of household name, the area where the family lived and a timeline demonstrating the known facts on hand. What will be available for this family online? A majority of census records and land grants. Small amounts of marriage documents and wills/probates. You can find some of these items online for free at Family Search. Majority of land grants, warrants and deeds are also available online for each state and county. You can print or download these actual documents freely from the independent county/state websites. You may need to register as a “user” or “visitor” prior to printing or downloading. Now, you can concentrate on the missing information from your timeline that will prove the existence of your ancestor and the details of his/her life. You begin with the area location. In this example, that would be Surry County, Stokes County, NC and Dan River.

Free Range Research Does Not Support Accurate Results With Genealogy

To accurately research the area using the timeline above, you will need to locate Surry County and Stokes County local resources. These can include historical societies, genealogy societies, libraries, universities, museums and much more. Contact the resources either by online, phone, email or by regular mail service. These free resources are tremendous when it pertains to your personal research. Organizations such as these are filled with local history, documents, photographs, personal objects and so much more. The time you are now spending on random online searching can be much more beneficial if you spend the same amount of time corresponding with the local historians of the area and doing this free of charge. The end results are priceless. If you are able to actually visit the area, the rewards are even greater. But, not everyone is able to do this and corresponding with the resources is the most important goal.

Now that you have identified your local resources and communication has begun, you have the ability to prove who your ancestor was and how they lived. Always get a name when you are communicating with any organization or society. Give as many details as possible about your ancestors in order to receive what local information is available. Many of these organizations have volunteers who will actually research for you. This alone is proof why you should never limit your resources to a paid subscription or an online source. Actual documents are the proof you need to prove your lineage. Online family trees are not reliable resources. They are clues and hints only. They do not prove anything except what they represent and that is a fictional account of a family. Books are also clues and hints.

20% Of Genealogy Records Are Available Online

Piedmont Trails will always share free genealogy and historical websites. Hundreds of links can be found on the website and new links are added weekly. North Carolina Genealogy Links and United States Genealogy Links are both pages filled with free online resources. A new page covering Migration Trails and Routes is also filled with free resources and data. If you have trouble finding a particular resource, contact Piedmont Trails and we will attempt to locate a source for you. If you have hit a brickwall with your research and unable to identify a name or location for your ancestor, please feel free to post your query on our forum or group page.

Always plan your genealogy research with goals in mind. Never limit your resources to online only and enjoy your research with the full experience it gives. Always know that unlimited resources are available to you without huge subscriptions or membership dues. Thank You all for your support of Piedmont Trails and wishing you all great success with your research. Enjoy Your Journey To The Past !!

A Detailed Route of The Great Wagon Road

Winchester, Virginia to Roanoke, Virginia

The wagon wheels are slowly turning as the eyes are focused on the wilderness ahead. The weary are anxious for the trip to be over but the adventurous are eager for the next excitement in the road. The skies are open for all to see as the party succumbs to mother nature and her surroundings. It’s the hope and dreams that thrive within the hearts of so many. The longing of a home; security for the future, prosperity for the hard at work. All of this and more are promised along this road. One step at a time, no matter the obstacle, the road leads onward. The Great Wagon Road, resembling freedom, demanding strength and endurance, while remaining historic for generations of today and all tomorrows.

Welcome to Segment 2, A Detailed Route of The Great Wagon Road. When the settlers reached present day Winchester, Virginia, they were able to rest before arriving to the wilderness of colonial Virginia. Winchester was then known as Frederick Town and this area was thriving with activity. The three main roads leading from Pennsylvania to Virginia all met at this point. A tavern and several inns were located in the area. Depending on the timeline of your ancestor, the traffic along the road was quickly multiplying as the travelers reached this community. US Highway 11 resides closely to the route our ancestors had taken many years ago. 14 miles from Frederick Town was the crossing of Cedar Creek located at the Shenandoah County line. A bridge is now located near the original ford crossing. Trees blocking the road were a constant battle facing the travelers. This area was deeply wooded with little to no civilians located nearby. This of course depends on the time range in which your ancestor traveled the road. For instance, in 1740, this area was a complete wilderness with nearly zero inhabitants. By 1765, several pioneers had settled along the road, but the area was still considered very much a frontier. The trees were time consuming to remove and created one of many dangerous atmospheres that the settlers were constantly facing.

cedar creek November blog

Cedar Creek, Virginia Postcard

Once the pioneers crossed Cedar Creek, they traveled 3 miles to Strasburg. This community was established in 1761 but was considered a small village as early as 1749. The Great Wagon Road is still basically following US Highway 11 as several small streams and creeks are forded. 24 miles from Strasburg, Stoney Creek is crossed and the elevation during this area is 804 ft. The trail is rugged and filled with huge rocks and steep hillsides. 8 long miles allows the travelers to reach the Shenandoah River. Along the banks of the river, the Great Lakes Indian tribes would use this very route as a southern trading trail. Shenandoah named for the daughter of the stars. John Fontaine recorded in his diary after reaching the river dated 9/5/1716, “We had a good dinner and after it we got the men together and loaded all of their arms and we drank the King’s health.” By 1785, John Fontaine would not have recognized the area as mills were located all along the river and several families were settled within the valley.

Many settlers decided to stay in this particular region and they began settlements along the Shenandoah River. Christian Konrad, John Miller and John Ziegler organized the building of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church as early as 1733. John Stover, a Swiss land agent, sold land to George Boone in 1735. George, the uncle of Daniel Boone, lived near St. Peter’s Church and Bear Lithia Springs.  Surnames of Price, Gibbons, Smith, Meadows, Blakemore and Bear were living near Chainey Hollow as early as 1740.

The next 58 miles took the travelers through present day Rockingham County and Augusta County, Virginia. The mountain laurel, chestnut and red oak trees would overwhelm the landscape. Thick forests would line the hill sides with ash, maple and basswood. During the summer months, blackberries, huckleberries and raspberries ripen along the river banks. Wild game would have been plentiful through the valley such as deer, bear, fox and much more.

Shenandoah River Valley Map

Shenandoah River Valley date 1890

The travelers adjust to their surroundings as they make camp each night and make any repairs needed on their gear. They are traveling in parties numbering as low as 5 wagons up to 25 or more. Many have paid guides with them leading the way. It was important to maintain a continuous trend daily, but if a family member became sick or hurt, this could halt the travelers and many would separate from their original party.

Augusta County, Virginia is reached after traveling 58 miles from the crossing of the Shenandoah River. This area was first settled as early as 1732 by John Lewis. Other early surnames are Beverley, Coalter, Rommel, Bingham and Sheppard. The settlement was named Augusta after the county name and later changed to Staunton. From this point, the road is currently residing present day US Highway 11 and turns on State Highway 613 for 14 miles. The pioneers would then cross Folly Mills Creek and South River which brings present day road back to US Highway 11 in Greenville. 6 miles lies the Rockbridge County line as the road continues to stay within the valley basin as the settlers peer upwards to the steep mountain sides of Shenandoah National Park. The county, established in 1777, is marked by the boundary of Marl Creek, a bridge today.

The Natural Bridge is now 14 miles away. The area was viewed upon with awe by the travelers. Everyone would know of the bridge that stands 215 feet from the waters of Cedar Creek and spans a total of 90 feet in length. Many would camp along the creek and hold church services. The early Monacan Indians worshipped the area they called, “Bridge of God” and were inspired by it’s natural beauty.

The James River crossing is located 14 miles from the Natural Bridge. A ferry was available to the travelers by owner, Robert Looney. The Looney family lived in Cherry Tree Bottom near present day Buchanan. The family owned and operated a mill and an inn for travelers. The biggest obstacle for the travelers would be getting the horses to load the ferry for the crossing. Also, during the winter months, the river would freeze over preventing the ferry to cross. The ice would not be thick enough for the settlers to cross safely due to the weight of the wagons. The local inhabitants regarded the road as “The Great Valley Road” and many businesses would be established along the James River and Buchanan, Virginia. Surnames during 1740, Buchanan, Boyd, Anderson, Looney and Smith.

james river at buchanan

James River Bridge in Buchanan, Virginia

 

Traveling from Looney’s Ferry, the trails follows rough and rugged terrain. During rainstorms, the road would be almost impassable, causing the pioneers to stop and wait until the storms passed. Wagons were loaded with supplies and personal items which allowed the vessels to be extremely heavy. The muddy road would often absorb the wheels waist deep which could damage the wheel or axle and prevent the family from traveling further until repaired. During the hot dry summer season, dust was a constant battle. The dust would cover everything in sight. It was difficult to keep food supplies covered and free from the elements.  Approximately 14 miles from Looney’s ferry lies a small community named Amsterdam. During the early 19th century, this community was a normal stop during the stagecoach line. But, during the mid 18th century, a few settlers would have been located in this region. Joseph McDonald is found on records as early as 1769. McDonald is living in a log cabin and visited by the Moravians passing through the area in October of 1753. The original log home can be seen fully restored in Trinity, Virginia.

The travelers are now 4 miles from present day Roanoke County and the famous stone house. This stone structure once stood at present day Read Mountain Road. It was mentioned in several diaries by pioneers who traveled the Great Wagon Road. However, by the early 19th century, the structure is no longer standing and was not regarded as a landmark for travelers within the region. Remnants of the old Black Horse Tavern can be seen along Old Mountain Road which is the actual route of the Great Wagon Road through this area. To read more about the tavern and the Buford family, click here. The road leading into present day Roanoke, which has turned from Old Mountain Road to US Highway 11, was very difficult for the pioneers. Elevation along the road provided very steep hillsides. Diaries noted that several wagons unloaded half of their contents and took the wagons down hill or up hill. Once the hill was accomplished, these contents were unloaded and the empty wagon returned to load the half left behind. Numerous large rocks and deep holes filled the road space and travel at times were slowed to crawl.

Buffalo

Roanoke was first known as Old Buffalo Salt Lick. The road was a hunting trail of the Indians and this area was a gathering place for the animals, namely buffalo. Huge herds of buffalo would arrive at the salt marshes before the onset of the 18th century and this was considered as prime land for the Indians up to 1722. The Moravians describe several sightings of buffalo through Virginia and into North Carolina. But as of date, no documentation has been located that describes the huge herds that once migrated this area. Click here to learn more about Big Lick Junction. Early surnames in this area are Campbell, Newman, Preston, Osborn, Fulkerson, Carter and Rainey.

The settlers would have enjoyed a rest in this area while anticipation grew from thoughts of crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains into the frontier of Carolina. Segment 3 will cover the road as it winds through the Blue Ridge Mountains in southern Virginia. The road is continuously changing through the seasons and as the travelers move southward, the road becomes more narrow. At times, the road is noted to be only a few feet wide.

October great wagon road 2

Thank You all so much for your support and your interest in history and genealogy. If you missed previous articles pertaining to the Great Wagon Road, you can find each one listed below.

The Great Wagon Road

From Pennsylvania To New Lands

Wagon Road To North Carolina

Remembering The Great Wagon Road

Wagons, Horses & Stagecoaches

A Detailed Route of The Great Wagon Road

Our ancestors left an amazing trail to follow. Documents and records allow us to visit the past and share their adventures. As we all search through the paper trail, the journeys of long ago become intertwined with the journeys of today. Wishing you all great discoveries and treasures along your own personal journey.

 

 

Early Settlers of Rockingham County, NC

18th Century Pioneers on Beaver Island Creek

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

1751

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

1759

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

1762

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

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

1778

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

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

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

1779

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

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

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

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

1780

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

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

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

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

1782

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

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

1783

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1784

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

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

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

1787

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

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

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

1789

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

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

1791

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

1792

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

1793

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

1794

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

1795

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

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

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

1796

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

1797

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

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

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

1799

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

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

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

 

 

 

North Carolina Family Research

A Detailed Outline for Hobby Genealogists for the Piedmont Area

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

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Surname

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

Piedmont Location

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

Research Timeline

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

History of Online Research

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

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Present Day Online Research

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

Online Family Trees

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

Following The Legal Trail

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

Snail Mail & Email

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

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

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