Two updates from the Great Wagon Road Project in one day? That’s fantastic! We are going to correct a few paragraphs from our article dating 2018. As we stated earlier in the previous post, we used sources such as organizations and books to launch the project in 2019. Once the groundwork began, discrepancies and oversights were more apparent to the Research Team. These same errors were prevalent to me years before, but I lacked the proof to share them with you, our Piedmont Trails family. Now, the project is ready to prove to everyone that we are up on our game and serious about preserving the Great Wagon Road. Please continue showing your support by sharing with others and spreading the word about the Great Wagon Road. Thank you for joining the journey with us.
The two paragraphs below are from the original 2018 article, with the sources and links removed. The information is false and untrue. The Great Wagon Road Project shares the current documentation and resources with those interested in our investigation of the original 18th-century route.
A newspaper article was written in 2013 detailing the route of the road through the Rural Hall area, present day, Forsyth County, NC. This area is approx. 30 miles south of Pilot Mountain. Depressions of the actual roadbed were located along Cordell Drive and Highway 66, just north of present-day Rural Hall. According to the Moravian diaries, this has been proven to be true as the Moravians were making their way to the settlement of Bethabara which lies just south of Rural Hall. We know that the Moravians left the road and traveled a few miles south in order to locate a building which was already on the property they just purchased in 1753. This was the site for Bethabara. Bethania was established on “The Pennsylvania Road” according to the journals of the Moravians. This means, that Highway 67 and Bethania-Tobaccoville Road both cross over the original Wagon Road.
We know that the road turns west after leaving Bethania and prepares to cross the Yadkin River. We also know the location of the crossing was made in the “Shallow Ford” which is located just southwest of present-day Lewisville. The crossing was made here because the Yadkin River only averaged 18″ in this one spot unless the river was swollen due to recent rains or melting snows.
The first sentence begins with the area known as Rural Hall in eastern Forsyth County, NC. The road leading into present-day Rural Hall originated with the completed construction of the Germanton courthouse in 1791. We could elaborate more on this, but we will save the data for another time. The roadbeds along Cordell Drive and Highway 66 are the remnants of a more recent road dating to the early 19th century. They were simply a shortcut route leading to the courthouse in Germanton, nothing more. The Moravian Diaries proclaim the main path traveling to the Town Fork Settlement, which is present-day Walnut Cove, not Rural Hall. The new road mentioned in the diaries begins at the property boundary line belonging to William Haltham. The original survey explains in detail where his property was in 1753. The first Moravian town site Bethabara was approximately twelve miles from this location. The new road led to the Wachovia tract because no other routes led to the Moravian’s new land. If another road existed to the Wachovia tract, it would not have been necessary to pay Haltham 2£ 15s 8p for his services as a chain carrier on the Wachovia survey and for creating the “new road” before the brethren arrived in late autumn of 1753.
All of this talk about the “new road” doesn’t tell us where the Great Wagon Road is? Or does it? According to the latest findings, the Great Wagon Road continued its track south and southwest from the Town Fork Settlement by passing the Wachovia tract 10 to 15 miles away on both the eastern and southern boundaries. The proof lies with the land surveys by William Churton, the land grants filed in the wrong county records, and the journals of persistent Baptist and Methodist preachers who traveled the Great Wagon Road frequently. Staying the course, the Great Wagon Road traveled through Old Field Creek, Brushy Fork Settlement, and the Jersey Settlement before joining the Trader’s Path in Salisbury.
The second paragraph is a simple one. The Moravians petitioned for four new roads during the spring term in Rowan County court in 1754. One of these was the Shallow Ford Road. The Wachovia tract was literally 10 to 15 miles from any early settlement on all sides. The new roads were necessary for survival and the Moravian Diaries proclaim this during their first year. We will have so much more about this in the coming weeks.
As with any investigation, specific details may change or alter from this explanation. If this occurs, we will revise this article as needed. I remember an old saying that Mom used to recite to me. The truth always shines through. Our ancestors knew precisely where the Great Wagon Road was. It may have taken over 280 years, but we’re working hard on preserving the road for the next 280 years.
- William Haltham-Land Grant & Survey Deeded March 14, 1755; Surveyed by William Churton May 14, 1752-640 acres lying along Town Fork Creek. (Filed in the wrong county, took years to locate-exact location and copies will be presented in the final presentation of the GWR Project)
- James Hampton-Land Grant & Survey Deeded March 13. 1755; Surveyed by William Churton May 18, 1752-638 acres lying along the Town Fork-personal letters/correspondence as traveling Baptist preacher along the GWR visiting local churches such as Brushy Fork, Jersey, Abbotts Creek and Mulberry Fields dating 1751 to 1757. (Filed in the wrong county, took years to locate-exact location and copies will be presented in the final presentation of the GWR Project)
- Germanton Courthouse documentation pertaining to the property of the courthouse-land deeds Michael Fry and Henry Fry, establishment of Stokes County from Surry, the local roads constructed in 1791 to 1793 from court records. NC/US Postal Office Records dated 1795, Stokes County Deed Book 65 page 591,
- Financial Ledger of Heinrich Antes dated January 1752 Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
- Moravian Diaries of Wachovia, North Carolina transcripts dated 1752 to 1754 Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Herrnhut, Gorlitz, Saxony, Germany.
- Rowan County Court minutes Spring Term 1754