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Great Wagon Road Project Updates

The team is amping up the volume and steering the wheels forward along the Great Wagon Road. Completion on a brand new team platform with full communication capabilities, storage, and much more has enhanced the throttle wide open. The route of the road is crucial and comprises the bulk of the project. But, we need to remind everyone what defines a road. The answer is the people, the families, and the events that happen between the ditches. The people who migrated these long miles through the valleys, the mountain crests, and deep rivers embarked on a journey filled with hope. Would you travel 600 to 800 miles on a wagon for 3 to 4 weeks or longer? Imagine the setting, no cell phones, no internet, no distractions other than the obstacles that laid in front of you. Fireside meals, the sounds of the night upon a cloudless sky make up a small portion of the trip during the mid 18th century. The sounds of bells ringing and creaks from the wheels in need of grease, children playing under a parent’s watchful eye, commands from the drivers. Imagine camping during storms and beginning again on a slippery muddy road. Imagine traveling 20 miles and feeling very satisfied with the day’s performance.

Preserving the details of these experiences with the names of the people is life-changing for yesterday, today, and all tomorrows. Do you have family stories to share? If so, let the team hear from you. No detail is too small for the team to investigate. Would you like to participate with the research team? If so, let us hear from you. Show your support by sharing the Great Wagon Road and the project. Let others know of the history and the people who endured the joys and sorrows of the road beginning over 280 years ago.

Over the coming months, detailed research will continue in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. A closer look at early crossings of the Potomac River is taking place now and digging into more records located in Maryland. Many plans are ahead for the project. Share the history of the Great Wagon Road with your friends and family. Enjoy Your Journey To The Past !!

3 replies »

  1. Moravian missionaries August Gottlieb Spangenburg and Matthew Reutz mentioned the Awbrey ferry in August 1748 when, after getting lost, they came to “the ‘Potomack,’ where they lodged with the ferryman. Francis Awbrey’s will conveyed it to his son, Thomas Awbrey.

    Awbrey’s ferry, first licensed in 1738 had been taken over by Francis Awbrey’s son-in-law, Philip Noland by 1754. Noland’s ferry ran from Leesburg VA to Maryland. The road in Virginia leading to Noland’s ferry is known as the Carolina road.

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    • The “Awbrey” ferry was located near Col. Mason’s Island. Colonel George Mason III acquired the land in 1724. Another ferry in the same vicinity was operated by “MaGee” during the same time period. The license that Awbrey acquired stemmed from Virginia where Awbrey also operated a tavern until his death. The Virginia Legislature no longer authorized the operation of the Awbrey ferry and Mason’s ferry began the transport in this location after 1748. So it would be very interesting to know just who the “ferryman” was. In accordance to Francis Awbrey’s will, he bequeaths to this son, Richard the ferry land and the tavern. For more information on the early ferries in this area, I suggest Maryland & Virginia Colonials by Sharon Dollarhite and Mason’s Island & The Georgetown Ferries, a chapter from the C&O Canal Companion by Mike High. The Awbrey Family has interesting historical connections with both colonial Maryland & Virginia. Relations with the Berkley family as well. I have also came across a mentioning of “ferry road” heading into Sinkler down to Clarks Run. I’m sure this is based on the Virginia side and have yet to pinpoint the exact location.

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