Migration Routes

Early Migration Routes 1775

Presented Redbone Heritage Foundation 3rd Annual Conference,

Carnegie Memorial Library, Lake Charles, La. Oct 18, 19 & 20th

by Stacy R Webb

NOTE Click on any map to enlarge details.


covered wagon

1775 Boundary between Mississippi River and 49th parallel


  1780 North Carolina and part of South Carolina



1783 Boundary Map

 Early Trade Routes



Colonial America, 1607-1783

Boston Post Road

King’s Highway

Mohawk Trail (Iroquois)

Braddock’s Road


Road Great Valley

Wagon Road

Upper Road

Fall Line Road

Eastern Shores, 1784-1839

Wilderness Road

Zane’s Trace

Natchez Trace

Old Federal Road

National Road

Chicago Road

Routes from Philadelphia:

Route 1
Forbes Road from Philadelphia to the Ohio River in Pittsburgh.
Down the Ohio River by barge to Cincinnati.
From Cincinnati by barge to the Licking River.
Down the Licking River into the Kentucky interior.

Route 2
Great Valley Road southwest from Philadelphia to Fort Chiswell.
Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap to Louisville, Frankfort, and Zane’s Trace.
Knoxville Road, beginning south of Fort Chiswell at Josesboro, to Knoxville.
From Knoxville, the Nashville Road led to Nashville, Tennessee.

Route 3
Great Valley Road south to Braddock’s Road.
South to Richmond, following the Richmond Road to Fort Chiswell.
Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap then northwest to Louisville and Frankfort.
Knoxville Road intersects the road between Fort Chiswell and the Cumberland Gap, leading to Knoxville and Nashville Roads.

Route from Virginia

Zane’s Trace from Wheeling southwest to Maysville, situated on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River.
From Marysville Zane’s Trace to a branch of the Wilderness Road leading north to Frankfort, Kentucky.
Continuing west to the main Wilderness Road leading North to Louisville.
Continuing west to Fort Gillad in Kentucky’s western interior.

Routes from North Carolina:

Route 1
From New Bern on the coast, west on Jonesboro Road through Raleigh and Greensboro.
Jonesboro Road west to Knoxville Road.
Knoxville Road northeast to Jonesboro or west to Knoxville.
Old Walton Road on the south of Knoxville or Nashville Road on the north of Knoxville to Nashville.

Route 2
Following “Route 1” above to Knoxville Road.
Knoxville Road northeast to Wilderness Road.
Wilderness Road northwest to the fork leading to Frankfort or
Wilderness Road past the fork and Zane’s Trace to Louisville
West at Zane’s Trace to Fr. Gillad.


Routes from Virginia and North Carolina
Most of the pioneers from Virginia and North Carolina to Kentucky passed through the Cumberland Gap, along with those from Pennsylvania and Maryland. Some travelers took the Great Trading Path to the Wilderness Road, which led into Kentucky and then went as far as the Rockcastle hills where they took the Great Trading Path south to Fort Loudon. From there they continued south to the Nickajack Trail which led northwest to where the Chickasaw Trail began on the bluffs along the Cumberland River (presently Nashville). Eventually, the Knoxville and Nashville Roads offered a more direct path from the Clinch River to Nashville and other points in middle Tennessee. The route took travelers through less difficult terrain than the Wilderness Road and it accommodated large wagons.

Peak Migration Periods
Kentucky experienced its peak migration period between 1775 and 1795, when an abundance of cheap land prevailed. The majority of those early pioneers came primarily from Virginia and secondarily from Pennsylvania. In Virginia, residents of Spotsylvania, Culpeper, Orange, and Madison counties watched their adult children pack up after the Revolution and move west into the triangular area between Cincinnati, Louisville, and Danville. Residents of Russell, Lee, Washington, Montgomery, and Scott counties Virginia went through the Cumberland Gap into northeast Tennessee and southeast Kentucky. Pennsylvanians settled in Bourbon, Nicholas, and Mason counties Kentucky, along with some southwestern Virginia families.


Carolina Road

See attached maps printed separately for viewing details.
From  Big Lick, on the Roanoke River (now Roanoke Virginia), in the Valley of Virginia, the early Brethren settlers moved south into the Carolinas. They went out through the Roanoke River Gap and down the face of the Blue Ridge Mountains. U.S. 220 is approximately the route used – through Boone’s Mills and Rocky Mount to Martinsville and into the Carolina Colony (later divided into North and South). The original roadbed is known in Franklin County, Virginia, to have been west of U.S. 220, on the slopes of Cahas Mountain, and farther up Maggody Creek and the Blackwater River than the present road. This is the area Elder Jacob Miller lived – but his arrival there is in 1773 (not the traditional date of 1765). His cabin site is on the west side of the Blue Ridge Parkway, on nearly the top of the ridge, at Adney Gap (land which he sold to Adney in 1800), some 10 miles south of Roanoke. He came to where Brethren already were.

From Franklin and Floyd Counties South Carolina, the Carolina Road came almost directly south to the Moravian Center at Salem (now Winston- Salem, North Carolina). It then followed down the Yadkin River to Lexington and Salisbury (North Carolina 8 and U.S. 29). Brethren Settlements were along the Yadkin River, some being west into the Blue Ridge Mountains and others being south. The Carolina Road left the Yadkin at Salisbury and swung west to the Broad River at Charlotte, North Carolina.

In York County, South Carolina, the Road seems to have split, one branch going westward to Chester and south to Columbia, South Carolina (U.S. 321), the other branch staying nearer the river to Columbia (U.S. 21). The road ended at the Savannah River across from Augusta Georgia.

Many of the settlers in South Carolina stayed nearer the mountains and the Broad and Catawba Rivers, although one settlement was on the Saluda River, south of Greenville, and there is record of one somewhere on the Edisto River – possibly towards Augusta. A settlement of 7th Day Brethren (Sabbatarians) from Ephrata was even farther south in Georgia, but it died out, blame is given to swamp fever (Malaria?)



Georgia Land Lotteries

In the early 1800’s, Georgia created a unique series of lotteries which would eventually attract a multitude of pioneers from Virginia and the Carolinas. The state passed legislation to hold its first land lottery in 1805.

The 1805 Georgia Land Lottery was the first experiment of its kind in the United States. Due in part to the Yazoo and Pine Barrens Land Frauds in the state during the 1790s, the people of Georgia decided to distribute newly acquired lands utilizing a lottery system, hopefully bypassing any opportunity for corruption. Public funds were used to survey the land into uniform lots, which were then distributed by chance to eligible citizens. The system targeted those who were by nature considered to be disadvantaged under the head-right land grant system, such as widows and orphans. Land lotteries had been used previously on a limited basis, but the distribution of public lands on such a large scale by a lottery system was unique for the state. Over the next 27 years, the Georgia legislature enacted five more drawings which served to parcel out the former Cherokee Indian lands to white settlers.

Click on map to enlarge

roads to ms territory before 1805


Roads To Mississippi before 1805

As the first of eight Georgia land lotteries, the 1805 Land Lottery served as a premiere model for land lotteries which followed in the state and established districts and land lots as the basic units of Georgia’s survey system (over the township, range, and section). The largest lots distributed were 490 acres in the 1805 and the 1820 land lottery. The smallest lots were the 40-acre gold lots distributed during the Gold Lottery of 1832. Exact wording in the legislation stipulated that every bachelor with three years residence in Georgia was allowed one draw and every married man two draws.

The Georgia Gold Lottery of 1832, awarded land that had been owned by the Cherokee to the winners of the lottery in 40 acre tracts. However, the state made no guarantees that any gold would be found on the lots.

As far as Georgia Land Lottery Grants to Revolutionary Veterans, there were incentives that were granted. By way of a legislative act of December 15, 1818, Revolutionary War veterans were given preference and allowed two additional draws beginning in the Third Land Lottery of 1820. Additional preference was granted with passage of the legislative Act of June 9, 1825, which established the Fifth Land Lottery of 1827. It gave each veteran with three years residence in Georgia three draws if unmarried or four draws if married, regardless of which state he served from or in what regiment he had enlisted.

1811-1812 Early Federal Roads between Macon and Natchez

Once again, the same preference was given to all Revolutionary veterans by the Act of December 21, 1830, setting up the Sixth (Cherokee) Land Lottery of 1832. Service in the United States armies was the only criterion and, as in 1827, the state from which service was rendered as well as the place of service was not an issue. In each case (1827 and 1832), the veteran was required to take an oath as to the validity of his Revolutionary War service.

Each person claiming Revolutionary War service was required to swear to his claim before ‘fit and proper’ persons who were appointed just such purposes by the Inferior Court of the county of his residence. Their neighbors, who would know the validity of each claimant, left little room for doubt that the veterans who were identified on the Land Lottery lists and military records were actually veterans of the American Revolution.

Click on map to enlarge

1814 Mississippi territory.  Shallus 1814

1814 Mississippi Territory

By 1819 a road had been cut from St. Francisville on the Mississippi River to St. Tammany Courthouse and then to Madisonville on Lake Ponchetrane. A spur from the road ran north through what is now Pike County to Holmesville . This road intersected the Three-Chopped Way a few miles north of Holmesville in the Choctaw Nation

Later settlers from Georgia would begin their journey on the Federal Road that originated in Macon, Georgia. This road ran past where the cities of Columbus and Montgomery are today and then turned southwest to New Orleans. Close to what was later Fort Claiborne, at a place called Burnt Corn Springs, a wagon road called the Three-Chopped Way branched off to Natchez. This trail roughly paralleled the present US Highway 84. After ferrying the Alabama River at Fort Claiborne about 65 miles north of Mobile the road proceeded to Fort St. Stephens on the Tombigbee River, a distance of 25 miles. From Fort St. Stephens the road ran westerly for 150 miles until it crossed the Pearl River near where Monticello, Mississippi, is today. After having ferried the Pearl River, settlers aiming for the region of Pike County could leave the Three-Chopped Way and walk in a southwesterly direction. The only major stream that would have to be crossed in that direction was the Bogue Chitto.

Since there were no wagon roads leading south from the Three-Chopped Way in that immediate area travelers with wagons might choose to stay on the main trail for another 50 or 60 miles. A few miles east of Natchez the Natchez to Mobile Trace joined the Three-Chopped Way. The Natchez to Mobile Trace passed through the site of Liberty and then crossed Pike County. It is possible that some of our ancestors took this route, traveling nearly to Natchez on the wagon road before turning southeast on the Natchez to Mobile Trace until they arrived in the region of Osyka. We do know that some families came to Pike County in ox wagons by way of Natchez. Prior to 1819 there were no other possible routes

Settlement on the Bogue Chitto

In those early days the wagon roads were barely more than footpaths. No improvements were attempted outside of what the users themselves made. There were no bridges and so fording rivers and streams was a dangerous and eventful part of the journey to Mississippi. Varnadoe family tradition says that Pearl Varnado, the first child of Samuel Sr. by his second wife, was born while the family waited for the swollen Pearl River to subside in the spring of 1811. We know what happened to the Simmons family because a grand-son of Richard Simmons wrote an article entitled “The Providence of God.” In the article the author used the event of his grand-parents attempt to cross a rain-swollen river to illustrate the point that we live because of the kindness of God. Hansford Simmons reprinted the article in his book and I have copied part of it here.

“In the month of February AD 1812, there was a family moving from South Carolina to a point in the Mississippi Territory, near where Osyka now stands. They had to cross the Bogue Chitto about eight miles below where Holmesville now stands at a ford near A.W. Loves. The river being somewhat swollen, there was put in a large wagon. A white lady and five of her smallest children consisting of three little boys aged 6-5-4, and two little girls aged two and an infant, one girl of the age of 14, one Negro woman, three little children of the driver of the wagon. A colored man happening to be in the company at the time, professed to be acquainted with the ford, by some mismanagement turned the horses too square across the stream. They soon turned down the river and away all went down stream for some distance when to the surprise of all present the wagon stopped. By this time the horses were beyond their depth and were all frequently under water, when to the joy of all present the wagon stopped. Men swam in and contrived to rescue all the jeopardized and landed them back on the shore on the side they started from. No one was injured except the driver badly ducked and strangled in the water. In a few days they reached the place of their destination, settled four miles east of where Osyka now stands.”

Settling the Pearl River

The first house on the Pearl River in this region was built between 1805 and 1809 on a plateau about a mile from the river. It was the home of John Ford, a Methodist minister who later helped organize the State of Mississippi. It may seem strange to us that the journey was made in February. However for farmers December, January and February were the only months of the year during which they were not planting, caring for or harvesting a crop. They had probably left Georgia or South Carolina after Christmas, traveled all of January and arrived in Mississippi Territory in early February. This would give them just enough time to prepare ground for a planting in March.

Mississippi Territory Summary: The Natchez District became a part of the United States after the Revolutionary War. The surrounding area had to be wrested from the Spanish in a struggle that lasted until 1812. Between 1810 and 1816 the white population increased by a factor of ten as settlers came in from South Carolina and elsewhere. The Scotch-Irish, who were without money, settled to the east of the Natchez District in the Piney Woods.

Click on map to enlarge

natchez district

The Natchez District

The locale to which our ancestors were drawn was a strategic hot spot of its time. There is nothing to distinguish it from thousands of other places located elsewhere in the rolling red clay hills of the Southland except that some miles to the west is the Grandfather of Waters, the Mississippi River, and to the south, the already old Latin City of New Orleans . The Natchez District was the extreme western and southern limits of the territory claimed by the United States in 1798. That is why it was of such great strategic value to the US and why it was acquired from the Choctaw in 1801.

The area had been known to the Europeans for over 100 years. The French explorer Pierre D’Iberville had passed through the area in 1699. It was he who named the Amite River after the native peoples who, he said, were friendly. Hence Amite from the French for friend. The river flowing through Pike County he named after the Tangipahoa Indians who lived in the southern part of the county along what was later the Louisiana state line. Tangipahoa means corn-cob. The Tangipahoa people were farmers and, in many ways, were similar to the Choctaw. A few of the Choctaw had farms in the northern part of Pike County but the major towns of the Choctaw Nation were far away in central Mississippi.

Over the years several settlements of Europeans were attempted in the area of Natchez. This is about 80 miles to the northwest of Pike County on the banks of the Mississippi River. By 1776 there was a sizable colony of English-speaking planters there. The soil was suitable for tobacco and that was their main crop. Because of the existence of this isolated settlement called the Natchez District, suitable soil and easy access to the Mississippi River, most of the earlier settlers had chosen land to the west of Pike County around Natchez. The farmers of the Natchez District became far wealthier than those who settled in Pike County. Until well into the 1840s they dominated the Territorial, and then the State, economy and government.

By 1798 the United States had gained control of the Natchez District by a treaty with Spain. In April 1798 the United States created the Mississippi Territory with Natchez as its first capital. Shortly afterward an office of the US Surveyor-General was opened in the second capital of the Territory, a new town called Washington barely six miles east of Natchez. A land boom was sweeping the area and settlers were pouring in from South Carolina and Georgia. By 1800 there were 8,850 persons living in Mississippi Territory. The Treaty of 1801 established the border of the Territory just west of the Tangipahoa River but settlers were prevented by law in 1803 from settling that far east. Instead they were encouraged to settle on land closer to the Mississippi River. The land east of the Tangipahoa River and north of Spanish West Florida was still legally part of the Choctaw Indian Nation although no Choctaw actually lived there. In those days the eastern-most white settler lived on the Tickfaw River. In 1804 Joseph Cutrer, from France via South Carolina, settled on a tract east of the Tangipahoa in what is now Louisiana. The land he settled on was actually a part of Spanish West Florida but he may not have known this. He was one of the earliest whites to settle in the area.

Routes to the Natchez District

Click on map to enlarge

roads to ms territory before 1819

Five years after the creation of the Mississippi Territory the US negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with France. France had doubtful title to the land it sold and never fully occupied positions of authority there, even in New Orleans. However the Spanish were in no position to enforce their own claim and the deal between Napoleon and the Americans held. The Louisiana Purchase consisted of land west of the Mississippi including a small area around the city of New Orleans. The cession of the Natchez District in 1798 and the purchase of Louisiana in 1803 did not dislodge the Spanish from what had been until 1779 British West Florida.

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Redbone Community, Warren Co., Mississippi

Just on the edge of what is now Vicksburg, a community was established named Redbone Community.

Perhaps the name followed Tobias Gibson from the Carolina’s to Mississippi Territory. Tobias Gibson, a preacher was sent to Natchez 1779 from the Savannah River Valley, a known mixed blood who ministered to the Redbone and other mixed blood communities of SC. Shortly after Tobias Gibson’s arrival to Ms Territory/Natchez District a small community outside of Vicksburg called Redbone was established. A creek, a church and other land marks named Redbone in the Vicksburg still bear the name and survive today.

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Dislodging the Spanish government

British West Florida, known to the Spanish as the West Florida Parishes, consisted of the land south of the present Mississippi state line that was not included in the Louisiana Purchase. The West Florida Parishes were, in other words, that part of present-day Louisiana east of the Mississippi River excluding the area around New Orleans. It seemed to the Americans that it was their “manifest destiny” to get possession of West Florida as well as the Natchez District and Louisiana. Relations between the Spanish authorities and the English-speaking settlers of the Natchez District had never been good. Now the Americans wanted to drive the Spanish from Florida as well.

From about 1805 until 1809 the US Army and American settlers along the border engaged in sporadic warfare with the Spanish troops stationed in Baton Rouge and St. Francesville with the intention of driving them out. The US Army operated from a post called Fort Adams about 25 miles north of St. Francisville. It was the most southwesterly US Army base at the time. It was built to prevent a French or Spanish attack up the Mississippi River. The French or Spanish attack never came and the US Army did not actively attack the Spanish but it did nothing to discourage the settlers from doing so. In 1810 a group of American civilians actually captured the dilapidated Spanish fort at St. Francisville and then, a little later, that at Baton Rouge. The victorious American civilians were settlers led by the Kemper brothers of Pinckneyville. The Kemper brothers later moved to Texas where they continued to cause problems for the Spanish authorities. Pinckneyville, which no longer exists, was a place on the border about five miles southeast of the US Army base at Fort Adams. At the time of its capture by the Americans the Spanish garrison at Baton Rouge consisted of only 28 men. They and the Spanish civil authorities were allowed to leave on foot for Pensacola. The Americans then quickly proclaimed the Free State of Florida and, at the same time, applied for admission to the Federal Union as a State.

1806 map of part of the United States, containing the Carolinas


US President Madison did not respond to the settler’s application for statehood. Instead he sent Mississippi Governor Claiborne to Baton Rouge to establish the Territory of Orleans. This new US Territory included all the land east of the Louisiana Purchase, south of the Mississippi Territory and, according to the Americans, west of Perdido Bay. In practice the new boundary line was the Pearl River because the City of Mobile was not captured by the Americans until the War of 1812.

Before 1810 Natchez was the only town in the region that was not under foreign control. Because of its strategic importance and its rapid growth as a cotton port, the US government built or improved roads leading to Natchez. The US Army widened the Natchez Trace into a wagon road and placed it under the care of the Post Office Department. The US Army also built the Three-Chopped Way from the lower Tombigbee River in Alabama to Natchez in 1807. An older road called “El Camino Real” went from Natchez south to Fort Adams on the Mississippi River and then on to Baton Rouge. A wagon trail led south from Natchez to the growing town of Woodville which had been founded in 1808 and, even without water access, was rapidly becoming the commercial and cultural center of a booming cotton economy. There was another trail that led southeast from Natchez through Liberty in Amite County and then on to Mobile. This was called the Natchez to Mobile Trace and was the only trail that passed through Pike County prior to 1816.

Jefferson’s policy of removal

When the Revolution of 1800 brought Thomas Jefferson to the presidency, both the Indians and the whites looked to the federal government for support. Jefferson finally decided to solve the Indian problem by Americanizing the native people into free-holding farmers. He recognized that this process would take a long time so he proposed a significant and far-reaching innovation in American-Indian relations. Jefferson proposed that all the Indians living east of the Mississippi River in tribal groups be removed to west of the river. Jefferson justified this policy partly for humanitarian reasons. He realized that if the Indians were to maintain themselves as a distinct culture, they would have to be separated from the whites. Perhaps more importantly Jefferson believed that the federal government must acquire all of the lands bordering the east side of the Mississippi River so that the USA could present “as strong a frontier on our western as we have on our eastern border.”

Jefferson’s removal policy took more definite shape when the USA acquired Louisiana from the French in 1803. Despite the fact that the Louisiana Purchase ended the threat of hostile forces on the Mississippi River, its acquisition made the removal a practicality and hence an inevitability. It provided a large and unoccupied tract of land north and west of the settled portion of Louisiana which seemed an excellent locale upon which to exile the Indians. The idea of removal was not emphasized in treaty negotiations before the War of 1812. Instead after 1800 the government’s policy was to obtain land in the frontier areas without completely alienating the Indians. It wanted to obtain title in the land legally, without excessive fraud, and in manageable quantities. For the next few years, until sufficient whites could be brought in to take care of the needs of defending the frontier, the Indians had to be pacified and if possible made allies against the French, English and Spanish. At the same time it would be necessary to take whatever steps were possible to strengthen US military forces on the frontier.


Land Cessions

In December 1801 President Jefferson sent a commission to negotiate a second treaty with the Choctaw. To appease the US government the Choctaw ceded 2,600,000 acres of land in a strip running along the Mississippi River from south of the Yazoo River to the border with French Louisiana and the West Florida Parishes. This cession included the region around Natchez where there was already considerable white settlement. This area had already been declared the Mississippi Territory in 1798. The land ceded by this treaty included the western portion of Amite County but did not include what is now Pike County. The government asked for this original cession of land because it wanted to build outposts to control traffic on the Mississippi River. The US government felt that a Napoleonic invasion of Louisiana was immanent. Fort Adams was quickly built just north of the border with Spanish West Florida.

Also on the basis of this second treaty with the Choctaw, the US army improved the Natchez Trace into a wagon road. The Natchez Trace followed the height of land and ran diagonally from the northeastern corner of the present State of Mississippi to Natchez. The Natchez Trace ran through the heart of the Choctaw nation. This same treaty gave the US the right to lay out and construct a wagon road through the southern part of the Choctaw nation. This road was to facilitate travel from US-held land in Alabama to the Mississippi Territory. This second road, the Three-Chopped Way, was marked from central Alabama to Natchez. It ran almost directly east to west along the northern border of what is now Lincoln County, Mississippi. The road originated at the Macon to New Orleans federal road just north of Mobile. It was this road that settlers traveling overland from Georgia into Mississippi would have used.

The 2,600,000 acres ceded by the Choctaw in 1801 did little to satisfy the land hunger of the white settlers. The land the Choctaw had ceded was surrounded on the north and east by the Choctaw Nation. Settlers from the eastern states had to travel nearly 200 miles through Indian Territory to reach the newly opened land. In addition except for the English population of the Natchez District, the nearest whites were the French or Spanish-speaking residents of southern Louisiana with whom the US was more or less at war. Nevertheless many settlers did come and they gave the southwestern corner of the present State of Mississippi a relatively dense population by 1805.

Six months after ceding the land along the Mississippi River the Choctaw signed yet another treaty with the US to finalize the border between the US and the Choctaw Nation. The border was to be identical with that of the British treaty of 1765. When the survey was completed in 1803 the US took possession of a small area of Choctaw land in northern Mississippi. In April of 1803 the US ratified the purchase of Louisiana and the state of Georgia agreed to relinquish its claim to the land west of its present border. In 1805 an office of the US Surveyor-General was set up at the territorial capital at Washington, Mississippi. Settlers began to trickle in from the eastern states and in less than a year the government once again approached the Choctaw for another treaty. The Choctaw at first absolutely refused to discuss the cession of more land. However this time the commissioners tried a new, and for the commercially astute Choctaw farmers, a more dangerous approach.

Since its first dealings with the Choctaw in 1785 the US government had encouraged the growth of trade with the Indians. A treaty had been signed in Hopewell, South Carolina, in 1785 stipulating that the US would build three trading posts in the Choctaw Nation. The US granted these posts as a concession to the British supply firm of Panton, Leslie and Company of Pensacola, Florida. As part of Jefferson’s policy to legally extinguish the Indians title to the land, the Choctaw were encouraged to buy on credit. Thus when the commissioners approached the Choctaw for a new treaty in 1803, they had in hand a number of overdue bills for goods that had already been received and for which the trading firm was demanding immediate payment. Faced with these bills the Choctaw chiefs ceded 850,000 acres of land lying north of Mobile to the US government. The land was to be sold and the proceeds used to pay the debt. Although this land was easily accessible to settlers from South Carolina and Georgia, this third secession did not satisfy the demand for more land. The government began building additional trading houses in the Choctaw Nation to encourage more and larger debts among the Indians.

By 1805, less than two year later, the firm of Panton, Leslie and Company was able to claim debts of $46,000 against the Choctaw. When the Choctaw could not pay the bill, the US sent agents to negotiate a settlement similar to the one two years earlier. The Choctaw were furious and at first refused to even discuss the cession of more land. The talks dragged on, marked by bitter arguments, until finally in great disgust the Choctaw agreed to cede 4,000,000 acres of good land in return for $50,500 in cash. $48,000 was to be paid directly to Panton, Leslie and Company. The land thus obtained consisted of a strip thirty miles wide and extending from north of Mobile westward to the Mississippi Territory. By this treaty the US obtained more land than the previous three treaties combined.

Although it was the purpose of President Jefferson to bankrupt the Indians out of their land, he disapproved of the 1805 treaty because he felt that the small sum offered for such an enormous amount of good land was unfair. He refused to sign the treaty. However two years later the US and Spain were on the verge of war over Florida and the President needed the full support of the settlers in the Southwest. He knew how to get their support. He sent the treaty to the Senate where it was ratified in January 1808.

When the treaty of 1805 was finally ratified, a large block of formerly Choctaw land extending from the Choctaw Nation’s eastern border in the present state of Alabama to its western border on the Mississippi had been opened to white settlement. Much of this land was suitable for cotton. Furthermore, the land was already serviced by two roads, the Natchez Trace and the Three-Chopped Way. The Three-Chopped Way, named after its trail markings, ran just north of and roughly parallel to the lands just acquired from the Choctaw in the Treaty of Mount Dexter in 1805. This road provided relatively easy overland access from Georgia.

However the struggle of the US government to completely remove the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians from east of the Mississippi River continued for another twenty years. It is a sordid tale made even more disgraceful by the fact that the predominately-Christian Choctaw never offered violent opposition to the whites as did the Native Americans to the east and the west. They continued to plead for peace and brotherhood even as they were herded onto steamers to be transported across the Mississippi River into exile in Oklahoma. Even that land was eventually taken from them despite the promises that the Indian Territory would be their “as long as the rains fall and the grasses grow.” For the Choctaw of Mississippi, the success of cotton had meant their undoing.

Back in 1806 when the Nation was still young and rapidly growing westward, a horse path for postal riders was opened through the Creek Nation stretching from middle Georgia to coastal Alabama. As the likelihood of another battle with Britain increased, the crucial need to quickly move troops to protect the American Gulf Coast was becoming more evident. In June 1810, Fort Stoddert’s commanding officer Col. Richard Sparks was ordered by Secretary of War William Eustis to inspect and document these horse paths in order to mark a military road so that troops and supplies could be sent to defend the Gulf Coast. A second scouting party from Fort Stoddert was led by 1st Lt. John Roger Nelson Luckett. Luckett made the first significant survey for road construction in land that would later become Alabama. In addition to being charged to keep journal notes of each day of his trip, Luckett’s party carved Roman numerals into trees marking each mile along their journey. On July 11, 1811, Brigadier General Wade Hampton was directed to immediately begin construction of three wagon roads through the Creek Nation – the second of these roads became known as the Federal Road.1

With construction at last beginning in 1811, the “Old Federal Road,” was built from west to east connecting Fort Stoddert, Alabama, to Fort Wilkinson, Georgia. (Several spelling variations include Stoddert, Stoddart, etc.). Constructed in 1799, Fort Stoddert was named for the Acting Secretary of War Benjamin Stoddert. Fort Stoddert was located at the Mount Vernon Landing on the Mobile River in Mobile County east of current day Mount Vernon. Located at the Federal Road’s other end, Fort Wilkinson was near Milledgeville on the Oconee River in Baldwin County, Georgia. At that time, Milledgeville was the capital of Georgia.

The Old Federal Road successfully connected Fort Stoddert to the Chattahoochee River. At that point, the Federal Road merged with the earlier postal riders’ horse path that linked Athens, Georgia, to New Orleans, Louisiana. Unlike the old horse path, the Federal Road went eastward making a connection with lands ripe for the recruitment of soldiers and obtaining supplies for the military. This path quickly became a major travel route for pioneers to the area once known as the Old Southwest.

From its start as a narrow horse path used to carry the mails, the Old Federal Road underwent great development and became a major military road connecting early American forts in the Creek Lands and the Mississippi Territory. Acting as the interstate highway of its day, when “Alabama Fever” raged through the Carolinas and Georgia, the Old Federal Road carried thousands of pioneers to the Old Southwest. As such, the Federal Road directly contributed to the dramatic increase in Alabama’s population between 1810 and 1820 – with Alabama’s population growing far faster than that of either Mississippi or Louisiana during this time. Alabama continued out-distancing both Mississippi and Louisiana in population growth through 1850.2

The Federal Road became a well traveled stagecoach route for those going through Alabama. In 1824, Adam Hodgson wrote Letters from North America Written during a Tour in the United States and Canada wherein he described his 1820 travel along the Federal Road from Chattahoochee to Mobile. Hodgson found adequate over-night lodgings and described one stop as having three beds in a log building with a clay floor. Noting the ground formed a “perpetual undulation,” Hodgson concluded that “[t]he road, which is called the Federal Road, though tolerable for horses, would with us be considered impossible for wheels.”3

1813 A map of the Southern section of the United States.

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 routes of early fed roads macon to natchez




The Nacogdoches-Neches Saline Road, although relatively unknown, greatly facilitated the settlement of East Texas between the Neches and Angelina rivers. The ancient Indian trail led from the Caddo Indian villages near the site of present Nacogdoches, crossed the Angelina River east of the site of present Alto, and traveled the length of Cherokee County northwest to the Brooks Saline on the Neches River, seven miles west of the site of present Bullard in Smith County. Stephen F. Austin indicated the salt springs on his 1840 map of Texas. Before recorded history animals and aboriginals had made a path to the salt licks near the river. The earliest land surveys in Cherokee County use the old trace as a reference point. A survey map of Cherokee County prepared for the Texas Land Commission (see GENERAL LAND OFFICE) in 1851 marks two segments of the road. The old highway, commonly called the Saline Road as noted on the 1851 map, once traveled through Dialville, Jacksonville, Lakeview, and Larissa. In 1765 Spanish Franciscan José F. Calahorra y Saenz, qv with other Spaniards and 100 Indian warriors on a peace mission to the upper Sabine River, traveled the road from the Hainai Indian village on the Angelina River northwesterly. Calahorra mentions the salines near the Neches River in his journal. By the 1820s Texans learned to manufacture salt by boiling salt water in huge iron pots until all the water evaporated. Cherokee chief Bowl, Martin Lacy, George Bays, and Dr. E. J. Debard were early salt makers. A white settlement was begun at the Neches Saline about 1830. At the beginning of the Texas Revolution about forty people lived in or near the Saline village, seventy-five miles northwest of Nacogdoches. During the Runaway Scrape all the residents fled down the Saline Road to Lucy’s Fort on the San Antonio Road. William Y. Lacy, Martin’s son, later described that trip through the Cherokee Indian territory.

The Killough clan, including the Williams and Wood families from Talladega County, Alabama, established a settlement southeast of the Neches Saline in what is now Cherokee County in the winter of 1837. During the summer of 1838, when the Córdova Rebellion started in East Texas, the Killoughs traveled the Saline Road to Nacogdoches to wait out the trouble. Córdova and his renegade forces were chased by Maj. Henry W. Augustine’s 150 Texas soldiers up the old road to the Neches Saline, where the trail was lost. Gen. Thomas J. Rusk and the Texas militia later found and defeated the renegades at the battle of Kickapoo in Anderson County on October 16, 1838. Meanwhile the refugee Killoughs returned to their home near the Saline about the first of October to gather their crops. On October 5, 1838, renegades attacked the settlement and killed or captured eighteen people. Again survivors of the massacre fled down the Saline Road to Lacy’s Fort. The Cherokee Indians were conveniently blamed for the massacre and ordered by Republic of Texas president Mirabeau B. Lamar to leave Texas. In July 1839 Chief Bowl, who lived near the Saline Road northwest of Alto, called his Indians to rendezvous at a site north of the Neches Saline. After several days of unsuccessful negotiation with Republic of Texas officials, who accompanied the pursuing Texas army, the Cherokees were defeated in a two-day battle in Henderson and Van Zandt counties.

During the Mexican War the First Regiment of Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry marched from the Sabine River to Robbins’s Ferry on the Trinity River, part of the way on the Saline Road. The soldiers had to widen the road to allow passage of the large supply wagons. One of the officers, Maj. Pollard Gaines, declared in his diary that the Kentucky regiment built the Texans sixty miles of good road. The Cherokee County Commissioners Court noted the road improvement on February 10, 1847, and authorized the Saline Road, with a new-cut detour to the county seat, as a stage route from Rusk to Tyler in Smith County. Near the Saline Road in Jacksonville, just east of the Southwestern Electric Service Company warehouse and north of the Union Pacific tracks, was a strong spring. When the International Railroad built through in 1872, the watering hole was enlarged to furnish water for steam locomotives. The spring was used as a recreational area by local residents; a big political rally was held there in 1855, at which some of the state’s most able speechmakers were present. Among them were Louis T. Wigfall, Malcolm D. Graham, Richard B. Hubbard, Thomas J. Rusk, A. T. Rainey, and F. W. Bowden.

In 1874-75 the Rusk Transportation Company chartered and built a tram railroad from the Cherokee county seat to the International-Great Northern Railroad at Jacksonville. The Rusk Tramway closely followed the Saline Road from south of Dialville to Jacksonville. The route afforded not only the best right-of-way, but the old road facilitated the movement of supplies and convict labor alongside the construction line. Financially, however, the Rusk Tram was a failure. In 1882 the Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad Company (Cotton Belt), building south from Tyler, utilized parts of the tram right-of-way and from Dialville to Rusk faithfully followed the Saline Road. Only two sections of the old highway were preserved by 1989. Farm Road 347 from Dialville north to Jacksonville follows the old trail with little deviation. Farther to the northwest the Larissa Road from near Lake Acker to the Killough Massacre Monument site parallels the Saline Trace to the west. See also SALT INDUSTRY and NECHES SALINE, TEXAS.

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The Kings Highway

During the Spanish colonial period, a road that connected a place to Mexico City—the seat of royal authority—was called a Camino real, or “royal road.” There were several Caminos reales in northern New Spain during the colonial period, including the Camino real to California, the Camino real to Santa Fe, and the Camino real to Texas, which was called El Camino Real de los Tejas. Los Adaes was the capital of the Province of Texas, so El Camino Real de los Tejas connected Los Adaes to Mexico City. Roads during the colonial period were not like modern roads today. It is probably best to think of a Camino real as a transportation corridor. During rainy seasons, the higher areas of the corridor were used. Under threats of attack, the safer, more exposed route within a corridor was used. Roads were also important cultural transmitters. Travel was slow and travelers took time to visit along the way, exchanging information.

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I am not sure this list is complete. The more I look the more I find.  Peer review and suggestions for additions and corrections are solicited and welcome! I count 25 mission locations. Many of these are the same mission being moved to several locations. There are 5 presidios and 6 villas.

1. Mission Santa Maria de los Delores, 1698
2. Eagle Pass- Guerro area
a. Presidio San Juan Bautista, 1699
b. Mission San Francisco Solano, 1700
c. Mission San Bernardo, 1702
3. San Antonio region
a. Mission San Antonio de Valero –The Alamo, 1700
b. Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo, 1722
c. Mission San Xavier Naxara, 1722
d. Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, 1722
e. Mission San Juan de Capistrano, 1731 (formerly San Jose de los Nazonies in E. Tex)
f. Mission San Francisco de Espada, 1731
g. Mission Conception, Full name, Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Conception de Acuna 1731 (moved from E. Tex)
h. Villa San Fernando de Bexar 1731
4. New Braunfels – Mission Nuestra senora de Guadalupe, 1756 to 1758 Also called San Xavier moved here from former San Xavier in Milam County.
5. San Marcos,
a. Mission Xavier, 1755
b. Villa San Marcos de Neve 1807 to 1812
6. Austin – Mission San Francisco de los Neches, 1730 to 1731 (moved to San Antonio now San Francisco de Espada )
7. Bastrop Presidio Puesta del Colorado 1804
8. San Xavier Missions – on San Gabriel river near Rockdale
Are these missions on the old Camino Real de los Tejas?
a. Mission San Francisco Xavier de Horcasitas 1746 to 1755
b. Mission San Ildefonso 1746 to 1755
c. Mission Nuestra Senora de la Cadelaria 1746 to 1755
9. Villa de Bucareli, or Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Bucareli, 1774 to 1778
10. Mission San Francisco de los Neches 1721 to 1730 (Moved to present day Austin)
11. a. Mission San Francisco de los Tejas, 1690 to 1716 moved to Cherokee County
b. Mission San Maria, 1690 -1793
12. Mission Nuestro Padre San Francisco de los Tejas 1716 – 1721 Then renamed San Francisco de los Neches 1721-1730
13. Nacogdoches region
a. Mission Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de los Nacogdoches, 1716
b. Mission Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Conception de los Hainai, 1716
c. Mission San Jose de los Nazonis, 1716
d. Presidio de los Tejas
e. Villa of Nacogdoches, 1714? Abandoned in 1763, Rebuilt in 1779
14. San Augustine, Mission Nuestra Senora de los Delores de los Ais 1717-1719 then rebuilt 1722 to 1763
15. Robeline- Los Adaes region
a. Villa Los Adaes – First Capital of the province of Texas, 1717, abandoned 1719, reestablished 1721
b. Mission San Miguel de Linares de los Adaes, 1717, abandoned 1719, reestablished 1721 moved since then, but still serving the Adaes Caddo Indians.
c. Presidio Nuestra del Pilar de los Adaes 1717, abandoned 1719, reestablished 1721
16. Natchitoches
a. Post St Jean Baptiste des Natchitoches. French

Eyewitness Accounts

The following are direct quotes from translations of travelers along the Camino real and other roads in the area. Pierre Marie François de Pagès was traveling alone from Nacogdoches back to Los Adaes: “A few days afterwards I observed a party of savages before me, when that involuntary fear of them entertained by Europeans, . . . prompted me to skulk from the path, . . . to avoid their company. The moment, however, I alighted from my mule, I was accosted by a couple of their women, who requested I would supply them with some of my Indian corn. I very readily shared with them what little I had, but the reader may guess my surprise, when, after several days, they returned to testify their gratitude, by making me a present of cakes made of wild fruit. I afterwards fell in with men of the same village, from whom I received much kindness, who were at great pains to put me in the best path, and to instruct me as to the places most convenient for feeding my mule, as well as for my own accommodation” (Pagès, Pierre Marie François de 1793, Travels Round the World, in the Years 1767, 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771. volumes 1–3. Second edition, cor. and enl. J. Murray, London, page 63). Pagès was traveling alone—something that most tried to avoid—somewhere west of the Sabine River when he had this encounter with the Indians, probably a Caddoan group. Pagès made the following remarks about the trip from Los Adaes to Mexico City and San Antonio: “According to my best information relative to the road from hence to Mexico, it is a journey of no less than five hundred and fifty leagues; and to the second Spanish settlement two hundred and fifty, by a way difficult to be found, and across rivers, many of which are extremely dangerous in their passage. I was assured, that though at times a small party of two or three savages will undertake and accomplish this expedition, yet, with the encumbrance of baggage, it would be deemed highly imprudent to attempt it with fewer than ten or twelve persons in company” (Pagès, Pierre Marie François de, 1793. Travels Round the World in the Years 1767, 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771. volumes 1–3. Second edition, cor. and enl. J. Murray, London, page 56). Herbert Eugene Bolton, Spanish borderlands historian, was remarking on his horseback ride on the Camino real between Natchitoches and Los Adaes, sometime before 1915: “I have ridden . . . on horseback, in mud fetlock deep, over the historic trail from Natchitoches, the old French outpost of Louisiana, to Los Adaes (now Robeline), the Spanish outpost of Texas” (Bolton, Herbert 1970a, Texas in the Middle Eighteen Century. University of Texas, Austin, page vii [reprint of 1915 edition]).

Sources Citations

Foster, William C. 1995 Spanish Expeditions into Texas: 1689-1768. University of Texas Press, Austin.

McGraw, A. Joachim; John W. Clark, Jr., and Elizabeth Brown, editors’ 1991 A Texas legacy. The Old San Antonio Road and The Caminos Reales. A Tercentennial History, 1691-1991. Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, Austin, Texas.

Early American Roads and Trails, Beverly Whitaker, Kansas City, Missouri, Copyright
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Last modified:  July 30, 2007  10:56

14025 Historical Collections of Georgia, Names of land grantees, persons who took the Oath of Allegiance to the King, petitioners to the Royal Governor, members of Provincial Congresses, Loyalists, Revolutionary officers and men. Indian tribes, treaties, biographies with portraits of their chiefs are included. A short history of each county with its founding, towns, early settlers, 1850 census totals, oldest living persons, anecdotes and traditions., White, 1854, Reprint, 746pp

14035 Name Index to White’s Historical Collections of Georgia, For those who have a copy of the 1854 printing of Rev. George White’s Historical Collections of Georgia., 58pp

7905 Georgia Genealogical Research, Schweitzer, 1995, 242pp

0970 A Researcher’s Library of Georgia History, Genealogy and Records Sources vol.1, Davis, 1987, 450pp

0987 A Researcher’s Library of Georgia History, Genealogy and Records Sources vol.2, Davis, 1991, 500pp

27133 Georgia Families: A Bibliography of Books About Georgia Families, This book contains a comprehensive listing of all printed Georgia genealogies and family histories that have made their way into major library collections across the U.S. Arranged alphabetically according to surname. Hehir, 1993, 147pp

14156 Whites Among the Cherokees 1828-1838, Who were the white families living among the Cherokees before the “Tail of Tears”? Censuses, leases of Indian lands, oaths of allegiance, school rolls, militia musters, letters, newspaper accounts and laws are included. The Cherokee Nation occupied all of present Georgia counties of bartow (formerly Cass). Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Cobb, Dade, Dawson, Fannin, Floyed, Forsyth, Gilmer, Gordon, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Towns, Uion, Walker, White and Whitfield., Waren & Weeks, 1987, 303pp

Mary Whatley Clarke, Chief Bowles and the Texas Cherokees (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971). Jack Moore, Angelina-Little Angel of the Tejas (Jacksonville, Texas: Progress, 1967). Hattie Joplin Roach, The Hills of Cherokee (1952; rpt., Fort Worth, 1976). Bernard Mayfield