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Wilderness Road 1775-1810

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  • Thomas Endicott, Sr. (1737 - 1831)
    From Endicott was born March 27, 1737, at Northampton, in Burlington County, New Jersey, the son of Joseph Endicott, Jr. and Anne Gillam.Thomas married Sarah Welsh on June 19, 1759, in New Jersey.About...
  • Martha Endicott (1759 - 1830)
  • Pvt. Moses Endicott (1759 - 1834)
    Enlisted in October 1777 for the entirety of the war; Pvt. In the North Carolina Militia serving in the American War of Independence Fought in; The Battle of Guilford Court House-March 15 1781
  • Henry Emerson (1733 - 1807)
  • John Emerson, Sr. (1744 - 1818)

The Wilderness Road was the principal route used by settlers for more than 50 years to reach Kentucky from the East.

This project is for profiles of people who traveled or settled along the Wilderness Road between 1775 and 1810.

Not only was the original trail extremely rough, steep, and narrow, it was dangerous with attacks from Indians and outlaws.

"Despite the adverse conditions, thousands of people used the road. After 1770, a surge of over 400,000 Scots-Irish immigrants arrived in the colonies to escape the poor harvest, high rents and religious intolerance of in their homeland. These immigrants, as well as Germans and other Europeans, kept coming and since most of the lands along the Atlantic Coast were already taken, many pressed westward along the Wilderness Road."

"As many as 300,000 settlers traveled along the Wilderness Road from 1775 to 1810. In 1818, when the National Road opened, travelers declined on the Wilderness Road. At about the same time, the first steamboat appeared on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. By 1840, use of the Wilderness Road had almost ceased. "

The Route

"From The Long Island of the Holston River in present-day Kingsport, Tennessee, the Wilderness Road went north through Moccasin Gap of Clinch Mountain, then crossed the Clinch River and made its way over rough terrain, now called the Devils Raceway. The== trail then crossed Powell Mountain at Kanes Gap, where it ran southwest through the valley of the Powell River to the Cumberland Gap. Beyond the Cumberland Gap the road forked, with the southern fork passing over the Cumberland Plateau to Nashville, Tennessee via the Cumberland River. The northern fork split into two parts, with the eastern spur headed into the Bluegrass region of Kentucky to Boonesborough and the western spur running to the Falls of the Ohio River in present-day Louisville. As settlements grew southward, the road stretched all the way to Knoxville, Tennessee, by 1792."

Capt. John Preston's Proposal (1792)

In 1792 the Governor of Virginia requested Col.l Arthur Campbell and Capt. John Preston to submit to him their views as to the proper manner to put the the western frontiers in a defensive position. Capt Preston's proposal shows a list of the fortifications along the route. He suggested:

  • At the mouth of Greenbrier, an ensign, sergeant and sixteen privates.
  • At the five-mile fork of East river, a lieutenant, one sergeant, a corporal and twenty-four privates.
  • At Lincolnshire, on Clinch, a captain, a sergeant, a corporal and twenty-four privates.
  • At Hawkins, in the Baptist Valley, a sergeant and eight privates.
  • At Brown's or Fugate's, in the Richlands, a sergeant, corporal and twelve privates.
  • At Wilkinson's, in the New Garden, a lieutenant, sergeant and sixteen privates.
  • At the mouth of Dump's creek, an ensign, two corporals and twelve privates.
  • At .Roberson's, in Castle's Woods, a captain, a sergeant, corporal and twenty-four privates.
  • At Blackmore's Station, a sergeant, corporal and twelve privates.
  • At Carter's, in Rye Cove, a captain, sergeant, corporal and twenty-four privates.
  • At Turkey Cove, a captain, sergeant, corporal and twenty-four privates.
  • At Martin's old station, an ensign, sergeant and corporal.
  • At Cox's, an ensign, sergeant, corporal and sixteen privates.
  • At Martin's lower station, sometimes called the blockhouse, where Robinson lives, which is the lower settlement of Virginia, and where the Kentucky road enters this State, a captain, two sergeants, two corporals and thirty-one privates.
  • At Blackwater branch, a place exposed to the south in Lee county, a lieutenant, sergeant, corporal and twelve privates.
  • And the scouts to be dispersed along the frontier as shall be deemed necessary, and changed when required."

Source: Summers, Lewis Preston. History of Southwest Virginia, 1746-1786, Washington County, 1777-1870 (1903), 432-33.