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Great Wagon Road Updates

It takes people to make a road. It takes endurance, courage, and determination to make a road grow and withstand the test of time. It takes nature to cooperate, the land gives the resources, and the people create. The Great Wagon Road would merely be a blend of the landscape if it weren’t for the vision of so many people. This combination is what makes the Great Wagon Road so special and unique. It was the first of many to come. Once a footpath held together by the various native tribes, by 1755, the path developed into the most famous road in the colonies.

Diverse cultures, languages, and customs equate to the people, and the identical characteristics pour out on the road from one mile to the next. It’s critical to preserve the folks living on the shoulders because it is up to them to create the reputation and longevity of the road. What good comes from a road that leads to grumpy patrons and dead ends in the middle of nowhere? Many individuals think today that the Great Wagon Road was famous only because of its destination. Although the length of the road contributed to its prominence, it was the people who sustained the road’s life. Without them, the road would disappear into the landscape forever.

Who are these exceptional and mysterious people? The Great Wagon Road Project is happy to share them with you. Many arrived with few possessions but with a colossal of dreams. Some stayed, and others left for distant lands south or west. The project wants to bring them forward from the past so you can know who they were. Over the past three years, the doors have opened to the old homes once located along the Great Wagon Road. We catch a glimpse of life along the road with tavern ledgers, diaries, land surveys, and local documents. We can almost hear the blacksmith working or a family’s chatter as they sit down for the evening meal. The endless number of names flow from the past, and with them emerges a person with thoughts, feelings, and life from 280 years ago.

So, get ready for the information in the coming days. Piedmont Trails continues to embark on the journeys of the Colonial Indentured Project, the Patriot/Loyalist Project, the Yadkin Valley Railroad Project, and the Great Wagon Road Project. We are constantly researching and working on preservation goals. Get excited! Soon, new details will be arriving about the people who first gave new light to the Great Wagon Road. People like Leonard Schnell, Robert Hussey, Christopher Kuefer, Alexander Spotswood, the Iroquois tribe, John Armstrong, Chief Gachradadow, Chief Canasatego, Tocarry-Hogan, George Whitefield, John Wilson, William Graham, Evan Watkins, Morgan Bryan, Squire Boone, William Linville, the Catawba tribe, and the list goes on and on. Until next time, enjoy your journey to the past, my friends.

8 replies »

  1. Good afternoon Carol,

    Today’s article is great work, admirable work, attractive work….YOUR GRAPHICS ARE TOP NOTCH….and of course I’ve told you that before…👍

    You’ve used the wonderful John Collet map a few times previously…..it’s a great map….do you suppose you could superimpose your Great Wagon Road onto Collet’s map….I’m really curious as to where it crossed Deep River….?? Or if you would just give me some hint as to the Great Wagon Road’s proximity to the Ramseur area?

    Several months ago you told me you’d filed away your ‘Cox’ file and could not find it….have you had any luck in that regard?

    All the very best,

    Rich Marshall Ilwaco, WA



  2. Love this post and thanks to all who are working on your various projects. Wish I could help, but John is not well, so I am not able to get out much.


  3. Great Wagon Road Updates do make me excited my ancestors migrated down this same road. Christian Smith was an excellent friend to Abraham Lineback a member of the Moravian church of Bethina North Carolina. He was a brewer and cooper who employed people working his land via barter of whisky made from wheat and corn. He was a palatine german first migrating to New York and then I suspect to Pennsylvania and finally to North Carolina dying in 1800. His poor lonely grave is unknown but it exists in the region of Bethina and Bethabara. His sons all left the area for Texas and Indiana with one daughter remaining in the Yadkin area married to a Moravian man. I am so looking forward to learning all I can about them and remain hopeful that this great work will lead to new and more information about them all.

    Blake Smith

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My Christian Smith… “court minutes Surry County NC. Ordered John Lynch, Frederick Miller, John Miller, Jacob Null, Phil Howard, and Christian Smith, to serve as road jury to view part of the road leading from Shallowford to Bethabra; leading by Conrods and Foth’s old place. Surry County” I am very interested in finding out more about this road

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robert, The road you spoke of in your comment is the Shallowford Road. It first appears in the Rowan County records in 1754. This was one of 4 roads leading from the Moravian Settlements in order to connect with other communities.


      • My 5th great grandfather Christian Smith was a cooper and a distiller and grew crops to help with his trade. He was very active it seems in how the roads were maintained or at least their condition. His land was North East of Abraham Linebachs land and I suspect he may have traded with the Town Fork settlement. He was not a member of the Moravian church but was considered a neighbor, not a stranger if that has any difference. He may have sold to the Moravians but I haven’t found a record of it. I am looking at old maps that are not well marked for either town or road names but it does show many roads. I look at these maps as I listen to your podcast and I am really hooked on your information thank you for all your doing!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Again a year later June 7, 1791, “court records Stokes County NC. Ordered by the court that Christian Smith, George Hauser Esq., and others be appointed a jury to view the road from Lashes’ Ferry to the Salem Road”

    Liked by 1 person

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