This map project on the Roads and Trails of Colonial America started by questioning what routes the immigrant ancestors used during their southern and western migrations. The assumption was that our earliest immigrant ancestors were limited to the waterways which accessed the coast and an occasional Indian path. And for the most part, that was true, However, further research proves that the Native population used trails and routes extensively to travel and trade throughout the hinterland and even to the coast. The challenge was for our early ancestors to identify the many routes and survive the journey.
The following chart is a graphical compilation of the many migration routes my ancestors followed and is divided into five sections, north to south.
Overview: Taken in total, the map displays the route of the Great Wagon Road and the many intersecting routes by which our ancestors accessed the interior of the continent. The Great Wagon Road, highlighted in green, ran from Philadelphia to the Susquehanna Valley, across the Potomac, up the Shenandoah to the Valley of Virginia, then up again to the Carolina Piedmont and then down to Ft. Augusta GA on the Savannah River.
#1. Migration from the frontier of New York to the frontier of the Delaware Valley:
-Beginning in the late 1600s in Dutch America/ New York, my Dutch, German, French Protestant ancestors migrated south down the Old Mine Road to the frontier at Minisink on the Delaware River.
-From the northern Delaware Valley, my German ancestors migrated west on Owens Road to the Susquehanna River and later migrated west on Forbes Road across Pennsylvania and then down Zanes Trace to central Ohio.
#2. Accessing the Interior by the National Road:
-Beginning in the early 1700s, my German ancestors migrated from the Port of Philadelphia west down what would become the Conestoga Road to Lancaster in the Susquehanna Valley.
-From the Susquehanna Valley, my German ancestors migrated south and west down the Great Wagon Road to the Shenandoah Valley.
-From the Shenandoah and Lost River (W) VA, my German ancestors migrated west on the Cumberland/ National Road to central Ohio.
#3. Accessing the Interior by the Wilderness Road:
-Beginning in the early 1700s, my Scot ancestors migrated south from Virginia on the Great Wagon Road to the Piedmont of North and South Carolina and even Ft. Augusta GA.
-Beginning in the mid 1700s, my Welsh/ Scot/ Irish ancestors accessed the Interior from the ports of Virginia and Maryland by way of the Pioneer Road.
-After the Revolution, my Irish ancestors migrated south down the Great Wagon Road to the Wilderness Road and the frontier of Kentucky and Tennessee.
#4. Cherokee Passports and the Unicoi Trail:
-From the 1790s to about 1810, what we know as Georgia was limited primarily to the settlements along the Savannah River. Lacking infrastructure and possessing great expanses of land, there were few routes into Georgia.
-Migrating south out of Virginia, my Lewis ancestors traveled the Wilderness Road to the headwaters of the Holston River and down to Ft. Southwest Point TN where they obtained Cherokee Passports to traverse Cherokee Territory. From Ft. Southwest Point, they took the Tennessee River south to the confluence with the Hiwassee River. Here they entered the Cherokee Nation.
-From the Tennessee, the Unicoi Trail traveled up the Hiwassee through the narrow passes of the Smoky Mountains, then up again into northern Georgia to Unicoi Gap, then finally down the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River to Jackson Co GA.
#5. Choctaw Passports and the Three-Chopped Way:
-By the 1810s, my Scot families of the Carolina Piedmont continued their migration south to the Great Wagon Road's terminus at Ft. Augusta GA.
-Traveling the poor roads of Georgia, they arrived at the new capitol of Milledgeville where they obtained Choctaw Passports to traverse the Choctaw Nation.
-From Milledgeville, they migrated west on what would later be named the Post Road. They entered Choctaw Territory when they crossed the Chattahoochee River at Coweta GA.
-Traveling west, the Post Road intersected with the Alabama River and wended south toward Mobile (AL).
-At Old St. Stephens (AL), the Three-Chopped Way took my family west to the Chicasawhay River settlement in eastern Mississippi during the outbreak of "Mississippi Fever."
Colonial American Migration Routes (1690 - 1802)
the Conestoga Road (1711); to the Great Wagon Road (1731); to the Shenandoah & then the Valley of Virginia; to the Carolina Piedmont; to Ft. Augusta GA
|The Old Mine Road (1660-1730): From Kingston NY to Smithfield TWP, PA|
|Over the Alleghenies: the Pioneer Road (1746); the Cumberland Road (1755); Forbes Road (1778); Zane's Trace (1793)|
|The Great Wagon
Road down the Wilderness Road (1755-1788)
Kentucky and Tennessee
|The Unicoi Trail (c. 1802): From the Tennessee River through the Great Smoky Mountains to Georgia|
|The Three-Chopped Way (1807-1819): From Milledgeville GA west to the Tombigbee Alabama settlement; then west to the Chickasawhay Mississippi settlement; then west to Natchez|
The 1806 Cary Map modified by author, 30 December 2014.