Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Why Did They Travel South?
As North Carolina's Secretary of State, William L. Saunders wrote in 1886, "Immigration, in the early days, divested of its glamor and brought down to solid fact, is the history of a continuous search for good bottom land." In their search for bottom land, English colonists encroached onto territories claimed by France. This pressure became one of the reasons the French and Indians went to war against England and her colonists. The Germans and Scots bore the brunt of the war, a cabin burning, wife-kidnapping, farm ambushing, bloody, and horrible guerrilla war. For eleven years mayhem reigned on the frontier. In 1756, three years after the war started, George Washington wrote that the Appalachian frontiersmen were "in a general motion towards the southern colonies" and that Virginia's westernmost counties would soon be emptied. Western North Carolina seemed to those escaping the war to be safer because the Cherokee were on the British side-at least at the beginning. To western North Carolina they came. This French and Indian War, which started the year Rowan County was created, joined the quest for more and better land as a major factor in sending those Germans and Scots-Irish down the Wagon Road to safer territory. Not only that but, the peace treaty that ended the war stated that no English settlers would go over the Appalachians. Thus, the best unclaimed land in all of the colonies lay along the Yadkin, Catawba and Savannah Rivers between the years 1763 and 1768. When the war ended in 1764, the western settlements of Pennsylvania had suffered a loss of population. Virginia and North Carolina had grown.
Modified from the article: The Scots-Irish From Ulster and The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road
Information provided by Brenda E.McPherson Compton