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''[[United States|United States ]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]]  [[United States Migration Internal|Migration ]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]]  [[US Migration Trails and Roads|Trails and Roads ]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]]  [[Kentucky Road|Kentucky Road]]''  
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''[[United States|United States ]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]]  [[United States Migration Internal|Migration ]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]]  [[US Migration Trails and Roads|Trails and Roads ]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]]  [[Kentucky_Road|Kentucky Road]]''[[Image:{{KentRdMap}}]]
  
The '''Kentucky Road''' was the first pathway to Middle Tennesse for white settlers. The Middle Tennessee pioneers of 1779 followed Daniel Boone's [[Wilderness Road]] through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, but then split off that road and headed southwest on the north side of the Cumberland River toward the salt licks, hunting grounds, and prime farmlands of Middle Tennessee.<ref>East Tennessee Historical Society, ''[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/44435788 First families of Tennessee: a register of early settlers and their present-day descendants]'' (Knoxville, Tenn.: East Tennessee Historical Society, c2000) [{{FHL|976.8 H2ff}}], 23-24.</ref>
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The '''Kentucky Road''' was the first pathway to Middle Tennessee for American settlers. The Middle Tennessee pioneers of 1779 followed Daniel Boone's [[Wilderness Road]] via the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, but then split off that road and headed southwest on the north side of the Cumberland River toward the salt licks, hunting grounds, and prime farmlands of Middle Tennessee.<ref name="ETHSFirst">East Tennessee Historical Society, ''[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/44435788 First Families of Tennessee: a Register of Early Settlers and Their Present-day Descendants]'' (Knoxville, Tenn.: East Tennessee Historical Society, c2000) [{{FHL|976.8 H2ff}}], 23-24.</ref>  
  
 
=== Historical Background  ===
 
=== Historical Background  ===
  
The '''Kentucky Road''' could also be described as a southern fork of the [[Wilderness Road]]. In 1779 [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watauga_Association Watauga] pioneers led by James Robertson followed the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap and across the Cumberland River. Then they made their way on the north side of the Cumberland River past the "Kentucky barrens" toward French Lick (Nashville, Tennessee).  
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The '''Kentucky Road''' could also be described as a southern fork of the [[Wilderness Road]]. In 1779 [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watauga_Association Watauga] pioneers led by James Robertson followed the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap and across the Cumberland River. Then they made their way on the north side of that river past the "Kentucky barrens" toward French Lick (now Nashville, Tennessee).<ref name="ETHSFirst" /><ref name="null">Wikipedia Contributors, "Nashville, Tennessee" in ''Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nashville,_Tennessee (accessed 6 August 2010).</ref>
  
This route was the primary trail to the Cumberland settlements at least until [[Avery's Trace]] was opened in 1788. Avery's could not carry wagons until about 1795, and was a difficult trail. Apparently some pioneers continued to chose the Kentucky Road route at first because wagons could follow it easier than on Avery's Trace.
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This route was the primary trail to the Cumberland settlements at least until [[Avery's Trace]] was opened in 1788, and could accomadate wagons about 1795. Even then, Avery's was a difficult trail. Apparently some pioneers continued to&nbsp;select the Kentucky Road route as an alternate to the shorter Avery's Trace.  
  
The road crossed difficult mountains,&nbsp;rushing rivers, and ran through Indian lands. Indian raids and white robbers both were significant problems, so many people chose to travel the road in large groups. But the risks were worth taking for the rewards of bountiful hunting grounds, rich farmland, and good salt licks.<ref name="WildpediaRd" /> Until the 1794 [[Shawnee Indians|Shawnee Indian]] defeat at [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallen_Timbers Fallen Timbers], for hostile Indian reasons, the Wilderness Road was the preferred route to Kentucky and used by 75 percent of settlers. It also served as&nbsp;an important&nbsp;passage for cattle, pigs, and sheep drives into and out of Kentucky to market.<ref>William W. Luckett, "Cumberland Gap National Historic Park," ''Tennessee Historical Quaterly'' 23 (December 1964). Digitized online at http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/cuga/luckett/index.htm (accessed 3 August 2010).</ref>  
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[[Cherokee Indians|Cherokee Indians]] were at war ([http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chickamauga_wars Chickamauga Wars]) with the American pioneers until 1794. The hostilities started with [[Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783|American War for Independence]] raids back and forth between Indians allied with the British and American Patriot setters in East and Middle Tennessee. Cumberland settlers (including Donalson's flotilla in 1780) and pioneers on the Kentucky Road were subject to Indian raids.<ref>Wikipedia Contributors, "Chickamauga Wars (1776–1794)" in ''Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chickamauga_Wars_(1776%E2%80%931794) (accessed 6 August 2010).</ref> After 1794 when the Indian threat ended, the white population of Middle Tennessee expanded rapidly.<ref>''First Families'', 24-25.</ref>  
  
The Kentucky legislature paid for the footpath to be upgraded to a wagon road starting in 1792. The wagon road was finished in 1796.<ref name="WildpediaRd" />
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The Kentucky Road, Avery's Trace, and the Natchez Trace Extension followed almost the same path through Davidson and Sumner counties in Tennessee. The [[Natchez Trace|Natchez Trace]], an old Indian trail also used by the French, was probably the oldest overland way to reach French Lick. The Kentucky Road opended in 1779 to American pioneers and was&nbsp;succeeded by [[Avery's Trace|Avery's Trace]] in 1787. By 1795 the Walton Road took a slightly more southern route than Avery's. In 1796 the [[Natchez Trace|Natchez Trace]] was extended to Limestone (Maysville, Kentucky) on the Ohio River. In 1805 the [[Georgia Road|Georgia Road]] followed part of the Middle Cherokee Path to connect Athens, Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee. And in 1816 the U.S. Congress officially upgraded [[Jackson's Military Road|Jackson's Military Road]] to connect New Orleans, Louisiana, with Nashville via a junction with the Natchez Trace at Tupelo, Mississippi.  
  
Earlier peace with Indians along the Ohio River, and the opening of the [[National Road]] in 1818 provided an easier, safe, more level route to the Ohio Valley and Kentucky. With the introduction of steamboats at about the same time, traffic on the Wilderness Road declined until it was nearly abandoned in the 1840s. However, it was used by both Union and Confederate armies during the [[United States Civil War, 1861 to 1865|American Civil War]].<ref name="WildpediaRd" />
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Pioneers also used rivers to reach Nashville. Enduring several Indian battles, the Donalson flotilla of 1780 reached French Lick by drifting down the Tennessee River and then&nbsp;making their way&nbsp;up the Cumberland River. Both rivers later had steamboat traffic.
 
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The Wilderness Road was important to settlers in Virginia and Tennessee as well as Kentucky. Some settlers used the road before it&nbsp;passed the Cumberland Gap to reach extreme southwest Virginia, and northeast Tennessee. Other pioneers waited to split off from the Wilderness Road until they passed over the Cumberland River. Then they followed the north side of the river over the "Kentucky barrens" toward the fertile lands of Middle Tennessee (French Lick/Nashville) on a path that came to be called the Kentucky Road.<ref>East Tennessee Historical Society, ''[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/44435788 First families of Tennessee: a register of early settlers and their present-day descendants]'' (Knoxville, Tenn.: East Tennessee Historical Society, c2000) [{{FHL|976.8 H2ff}}], 7.</ref>
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=== Route  ===
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*Bristol, Washington, Virginia
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*Cumberland Gap at the juncture of Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky
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*Boonesborough, Madison, Kentucky
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'''Later west fork:'''
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*Harrodsburg, Mercer, Kentucky
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*Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky
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=== Settlers and Records  ===
 
=== Settlers and Records  ===
  
Scots-Irish and Germans were the first to use the Wilderness Road in large numbers. For partial list of settlers who used the Wilderness Road, see:  
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Wataugans of Virginia and the Carolinas were the very first Americans to use the Kentucky Road. They were soon followed by thousands of others. The Scots-Irish and Germans coming along the Great Valley Road reached northeast Tennessee and followed the Wilderness and Kentucky roads to Middle Tennessee. For the earliest pioneers see:  
  
*Don Chesnut, "Fort Boonesborough Settlers" at [http://donchesnut.com/genealogy/pages/fortboon.htm http://donchesnut.com/genealogy/pages/fortboon.htm] (accessed 3 August 2010), citing H.&nbsp;Thomas Tudor, "Early Settlers of Fort Boonesborough," ''Bluegrass Roots'' 5:1-14.
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*East Tennessee Historical Society, ''[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/44435788 First families of Tennessee: a register of early settlers and their present-day descendants]'' (Knoxville, Tenn.: East Tennessee Historical Society, c2000) [{{FHL|976.8 H2ff}}].  
*George W. Ranck, ''[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/11837556 Boonesborough, its founding, pioneer struggles, Indian experiences, Transylvania days, and revolutionary annals]'' (Louisville, Ky.: John P. Morton, c1901) [{{FHL|1033675|item 1}}].  
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*Doug Drake, Jack Masters, and Bill Puryear, ''[http://worldcat.org/oclc/456260002 Founding of the Cumberland, The First Atlas 1779-1804, Showing Who Came, How They Came, and Where They Put Down Roots]'' (Gallatin, Tenn.&nbsp;: Warioto Press, ©2009) [{{FHL|976.8 E7d}}]. Includes gorgeous art, and extensive pioneer family land grant data. Also see their Internet site below.
*Robert Foster Johnson, ''[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/8135062 Wilderness Road Cemeteries in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia].'' (Owensboro, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 1981) [{{FHL|973 V3j}}].
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=== Internet Sites  ===
 
=== Internet Sites  ===
  
{{Wikipedia|Wilderness Road}}
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*Doug Drake, Jack Masters, and Bill Puryear, ''[http://www.cumberlandpioneers.com/averytrace.html Cumberland Pioneer Settlers 1779-1804].'' Selected outstanding photos, art work, and extracts from their book cited above.
 
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*[http://www.danielboonetrail.com/index.php Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association]&nbsp;photos and historical articles about significant places, events and people along the 1775 Wilderness Trail corridor and the early American frontier. Emphasis on Virginia.
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*U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, [http://www.nps.gov/cuga/index.htm Cumberland Gap National Historic Park] photos, detailed history of the road&nbsp;and culture of pioneers, also, nature and science of the park.
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=== Sources  ===
 
=== Sources  ===

Latest revision as of 05:14, 11 August 2010

United States  Gotoarrow.png  Migration  Gotoarrow.png  Trails and Roads  Gotoarrow.png  Kentucky Road
The Kentucky Road (in red) was a southern spur of the Wilderness Road. The first Americans to settle near Nashville blazed the Kentucky Road in 1779. They started in east Tennessee. Later pioneers used other trails to reach Nashville.

The Kentucky Road was the first pathway to Middle Tennessee for American settlers. The Middle Tennessee pioneers of 1779 followed Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road via the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, but then split off that road and headed southwest on the north side of the Cumberland River toward the salt licks, hunting grounds, and prime farmlands of Middle Tennessee.[1]

Contents

Historical Background

The Kentucky Road could also be described as a southern fork of the Wilderness Road. In 1779 Watauga pioneers led by James Robertson followed the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap and across the Cumberland River. Then they made their way on the north side of that river past the "Kentucky barrens" toward French Lick (now Nashville, Tennessee).[1][2]

This route was the primary trail to the Cumberland settlements at least until Avery's Trace was opened in 1788, and could accomadate wagons about 1795. Even then, Avery's was a difficult trail. Apparently some pioneers continued to select the Kentucky Road route as an alternate to the shorter Avery's Trace.

Cherokee Indians were at war (Chickamauga Wars) with the American pioneers until 1794. The hostilities started with American War for Independence raids back and forth between Indians allied with the British and American Patriot setters in East and Middle Tennessee. Cumberland settlers (including Donalson's flotilla in 1780) and pioneers on the Kentucky Road were subject to Indian raids.[3] After 1794 when the Indian threat ended, the white population of Middle Tennessee expanded rapidly.[4]

The Kentucky Road, Avery's Trace, and the Natchez Trace Extension followed almost the same path through Davidson and Sumner counties in Tennessee. The Natchez Trace, an old Indian trail also used by the French, was probably the oldest overland way to reach French Lick. The Kentucky Road opended in 1779 to American pioneers and was succeeded by Avery's Trace in 1787. By 1795 the Walton Road took a slightly more southern route than Avery's. In 1796 the Natchez Trace was extended to Limestone (Maysville, Kentucky) on the Ohio River. In 1805 the Georgia Road followed part of the Middle Cherokee Path to connect Athens, Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee. And in 1816 the U.S. Congress officially upgraded Jackson's Military Road to connect New Orleans, Louisiana, with Nashville via a junction with the Natchez Trace at Tupelo, Mississippi.

Pioneers also used rivers to reach Nashville. Enduring several Indian battles, the Donalson flotilla of 1780 reached French Lick by drifting down the Tennessee River and then making their way up the Cumberland River. Both rivers later had steamboat traffic.

Settlers and Records

Wataugans of Virginia and the Carolinas were the very first Americans to use the Kentucky Road. They were soon followed by thousands of others. The Scots-Irish and Germans coming along the Great Valley Road reached northeast Tennessee and followed the Wilderness and Kentucky roads to Middle Tennessee. For the earliest pioneers see:

Internet Sites

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 East Tennessee Historical Society, First Families of Tennessee: a Register of Early Settlers and Their Present-day Descendants (Knoxville, Tenn.: East Tennessee Historical Society, c2000) [FHL 976.8 H2ff], 23-24.
  2. Wikipedia Contributors, "Nashville, Tennessee" in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nashville,_Tennessee (accessed 6 August 2010).
  3. Wikipedia Contributors, "Chickamauga Wars (1776–1794)" in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chickamauga_Wars_(1776%E2%80%931794) (accessed 6 August 2010).
  4. First Families, 24-25.

 

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