October is family history month and an issue many researchers of early North Carolina ancestors must deal with is how our ancestors arrived in North Carolina. Immigration directly to North Carolina was tricky with our coastal waterways being very dangerous for large ships to navigate. Many of our early ancestors came from other states and followed migration routes that have been used for many years.
William Dollarhide is extremely helpful with this book Map Guide to American Migration Routes, 1735-1815. In the book, Dollarhide uses both illustration and text to show and talk about different migration routes used in North Carolina (as well as other states and territories). Not only can this book help figure out migration paths of our ancestors into North Carolina, but migration within North Carolina as well.
First, consider my ancestor David Bradford, who originated in Pennsylvania (PA). Myself and other Bradford researchers know he left PA from York County, ended in Baltimore long enough to sign a petition in 1767, and finally ended up in Cabarrus County, NC where he died in 1779. From the book, we can see that he probably took the King’s Highway down through Maryland (MD) and in VA took the Upper Road down to Cabarrus County, just north of Charlotte, where the route ends.
Second, consider many free African Americans that I do research on. Many originate in the North Carolina counties that border Virginia, but as time goes on, they spread all over the state. It is quite common, for instance to see some start in Warren County and their descendants end up in Orange County. Likely, they took an unnamed route that runs between the Upper Road and the King’s Highway that ran from Hillboro (in Orange County), to Warrenton (in Warren County), down to New Bern (in Craven County).
This book is a very helpful resource for understanding routes our ancestors might have used during migration. Come check it out at the Government and Heritage Library!