Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Migration  Gotoarrow.png  Trails and Roads  Gotoarrow.png  South Carolina  Gotoarrow.png  Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path

Charleston Savannah Trail.png
The Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path connected the South Carolina colonial British military Fort Charlotte near the Savannah River with several Indian trails, especially the Old Cherokee Path and the nearby Indian town of Tugaloo just across the Savannah River in what is now Georgia. Fort Charlotte was built 1765-1767 to help protect European settlers from Indian raids. Fort Charlotte was near the place where the Middle Creek Trading Path crossed the Savannah River from Georgia into South Carolina. Several other trails also radiated out from this fort. The Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path was probably opened to European settlers shortly after 1765. It began in McCormick County, South Carolina and ended in Oconee County, South Carolina. The length of the trail was about 70 miles (113 km).[1]

Historical Background

Scots-Irish (that is Ulster-Irish), French Huguenots, and German farmers began settling the area near what would become Fort Charlotte in the 1750s. Some of these early colonists near Long Cane Creek were killed by Cherokee Indians in 1760.[2] As a result, the British military constructed Fort Charlotte between 1765 and 1767 to help protect local colonists from hostile Indians. The fort was then turned over to South Carolina. The Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path probably followed older Indian trails. Fort Charlotte was built at or became the nexus of several trails along the Savannah River in South Carolina and Georgia.

Oconee County, South Carolina was at the convergence of several Indian trails and settler roads mostly leading to the lower Cherokee Indian village of Tugaloo across the Savannah River in Stephens County, Georgia.

As roads developed in America settlers were attracted to nearby communities because the roads provided access to markets. They could sell their products at distant markets, and buy products made far away. If an ancestor settled near a road, you may be able to trace back to a place of origin on a connecting highway.


The first European colonists settled in counties along this trail (north to south) as follows:[3]

Connecting trails. The Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path links to other trails at each end. The migration pathways connecting in Charleston, South Carolina included:

The migration routes connecting in Savannah, Georgia included:

Modern parallels. The modern roads that roughly match the old Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path start in Charleston. Drive west on US-17 South to I-95. Merge onto I-95 South/Jasper Highway to just past Hardeeville. Take Exit 5 onto US-17 South to Savannah.

Settlers and Records

The first colonists in each county along what became the Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path arrived before the trail existed, usually by way of the Atlantic Ocean. Nevertheless, some of the new arrivals and settlers after the late 1730s may have used the Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path and even the King's Highway.

No complete list of settlers who used the Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path is known to exist. Nevertheless, local and county histories along that trail may reveal pioneer settlers who arrived after the late 1730s and who were candidates to have traveled the Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path from the Charleston, or the Savannah areas.

For partial lists of early settlers who may  have used the Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path, see histories like:

in Charleston County, SC:

  • Thomas Petigru Lesesne, History of Charleston County, South Carolina: Narrative and Biographical (Charleston, South Carolina : A.H. Cawston, c1931) (FHL Book 975.7915 D3L) WorldCat entry.

in Colleton County, SC:

in Beaufort County, SC:

  • Lawrence S. Rowland, Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers, Jr., The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina (Columbia, South Carolina : University of S.C., c1996) (FHL Book 975.799 H2r) WorldCat entry.

in Jasper County, SC:

in Chatham County, GA:

External Links


  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 849. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  2. "McCormick County" in South Carolina State Library at (accessed 24 March 2011).
  3. South Carolina - The Counties, (accessed 22 March 2011).
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "History of Augusta, Georgia," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,,_Georgia (accessed 27 March 2011).