Now What?: Migratory Matters
10/1/2003
Answers for the beginner, the befuddled and anyone hitting a brick wall.

Q. A recurring question keeps imposing itself in the middle of my family history research: How did they get from there to here? More specifically, what routes and what modes of transportation did my ancestors use to get from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in the mid-1700s and from North Carolina to Missouri in the mid-1800s?

A. Depending on where in Pennsylvania the travelers began their journey and where in North Carolina they settled, you may be able to narrow the choices for their migration routes. Travelers from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in the mid- to late 1700s usually followed traditional Indian paths that gradually had been widened enough to accommodate teams of oxen or horses pulling wagons. Many people walked or rode horseback along the wagon roads. Travelers could begin on the Great Valley Road at Hagerstown, Md., and go southwest through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, then turn south at present-day Roanoke, Va., and continue into central and western North Carolina. Others followed several roads from Richmond and Fredericksburg, Va., south into eastern North Carolina. A few may have gone by ship to Norfolk, Va., or Charleston, SC, and continued their trek overland into North Carolina, as this state had few harbors sufficient for oceangoing ships.