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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course United States Migration Patterns by Beverly Whitaker, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Overland Travel, 1784-1839
A Few More Roads of Significance
Great Genessee Road
The Great Genessee Road started in Oneida County, New York (just east of Madison County) and went west through Onondaga, Cayuga, Wayne, Monroe, Genessee and Niagara Counties in New York to Ft. Niagara. From there a trail/road led a short distance south to Lake Erie where a boat could be taken across. This old Genessee Trail was incorporated into the Mohawk Turnpike which was continually improved due to the heavy demands of western migration after the Revolutionary War. Tolls were collected along the entire route from Albany to Utica and later all the way to Buffalo.
The Seneca Road paralleled the shore of Lake Erie, running from Buffalo to Erie. It went into the Lake Shore Trail which went around Lake Erie and up to Detroit. This was a good route for settlers who had originally lived in New York and the northeast who wanted to settle in that part of Ohio which was known as the Western Reserve of Connecticut, records for which can be found in the Connecticut State Library.
South of the Mohawk Turnpike, to the south of the Finger Lakes, the Catskill Turnpike by 1792 ran to Wattle’s Ferry on the Susquehanna River. Eventually linking the Hudson River to the Allegheny River, the Catskill Turnpike gave New Englanders and New Yorkers a connection to points west. Follow that route today from Catskill through Binghamton and Ithaca and Bath to Genesee. Also, as one would expect from its name, the Hudson River Road ran north and south, parallel to the Hudson River.
Old Kanawha Trail
The Old Kanawha Trail was a cutoff of the Great Warriors Path, from Ft. Chiswell, Virginia to Pt. Pleasant in what is now the state of West Virginia. This short cut along the Kanawha/New River system had served as a military road in the Revolution. After the war, it was one of the earliest routes into Ohio. Virginians had named it “the James River and Kanawha Turnpike.” During the 1790s, this route was improved with bridges which allowed wagons and carriages to make the trip from Richmond to Guyandotte in less than a week.
In Tennessee, to link Knoxville to Nashville, the Militia built the Nashville Road in 1788. At this time, Tennessee was still part of North Carolina. This road formed a link to the northern end of the Natchez Trace. And then in 1796 a road led north from Nashville to Lexington, Kentucky.
During the War of 1812, it was expedient for the military to construct roads in what is now the state of Mississippi. In addition to the Old Federal Road, Andrew Jackson’s troops constructed a road north out of New Orleans to the Tombigbee River to provide a fast route to Nashville. Following the war, this road became an important migration route out of the Mississippi River Valley from Tennessee and Kentucky. Still another military road (General Carroll’s Military Road) began at New Orleans and went north to Jackson, Mississippi. Also during the War of 1812, the Federal Road was extended by means of McCleary’s Road, from St. Stephens to Natchez, Mississippi.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course United States: Migration Patterns offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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