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The Great Wagon Road: From Philadelphia to the South [Paperback]

by Parke Rouse, Jr. Parke Rouse
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 30, 1992 087517065X 978-0875170657 1St Edition
The Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia to the South was first publishedd by McGraw Hill as part of its "Great American Trails" series, edited by A. B. Gutherie, Jr. It was instantly recognized for its insight into the birth of the American South from the early 1700's until the Civil War. Historian Carl Bridenbaugh wrote that "In the last sixteen years of the colonial era, southbound traffic along the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road was numbered in tens of thousands; it was the most heavily travelled road in all America..." and Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson marked its route on their map of Virginia in 1754 as "the great Wagon Road from the Yadkin River through Virginia to Philadelphia distant 435 miles."

Over the years the Road led countless Scotch-Irish, Germanic, and English settlers southward from Philadelphia to settle the Appalachian uplands from Pennsylvania to Georgia. Over the Road went the progenitors of John Sevier of Tennessee, John Caldwell Calhoun of South Carolina, Sam Houston of Texas, Cyrus McCormick of Virginia, and other Americans.

Countless cities and towns from Philadelphia to Augusta, Georgia, owe their beginning to early camp sites along the Road that grew into tavern locations, then into county seats, and then into centers of agriculture and industry. Today such Wagon Road towns as Lancaster, York, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Harper's Ferry, West Virginia; Winchester, Newmarket, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Lexington, and Rocky Mount, Virginia; Winston-Salem, Salisbury, and Charlotte, North Carolina; and Newberry and Camden, South Carolina have grown along the onetime settler's trail.

The Great Wagon Road also tells of Daniel Boone's pioneering from Big Lick, Virginia-now Roanoke-into the territory of Kentucky. Boone Expedited western settlement by cutting a trail across Cumberland Gap on Virginia's frontier to lead settlers in Revolutionary years into dangerous Indian country.


Frequently Bought Together

The Great Wagon Road: From Philadelphia to the South + From Ulster to Carolina: The Migration of the Scotch-Irish to Southwestern North Carolina + Chasing The Frontier: Scots-Irish in Early America
Price for all three: $45.63

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Dietz Pr; 1St Edition edition (October 30, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087517065X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875170657
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Wagon Road: From Philadelphia to the South September 15, 2000
Format:Paperback
This book is great for those interested in genealogy and tracing their ancestry from the early 1700's in the PA/MD/DE area to the Carolinas. I often wondered why they took the route they did from the eastern seaboard into South Carolina. Now I know. I was especially interested in the Scotch-Irish emigration since it was the lineage of my ancestry. The book is well written and makes history come alive.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Research Material December 29, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I do a lot of genealogy research and I knew for a fact that my ancestors migrated from the Philadelphia area down to North Carolina via the Great Wagon Road. They came into America via the Port of Phila in 1738 and were in North Carolina sometime in the mid to late 1750s to early 1760s. The book was a real learning lesson, I never knew there was such a "road" on the eastern seaboard states like there was out west. It was really good at informing you of the trials and tribulations our ancestors faced with the countryside, the indians, the British and the French. I highly recommend this book, it opens your eyes to just how many moved from the North to the South and the way they went. Although near the end of the book it did jump around, it nevertheless held my attention. Great source material for those of you researching your roots in these areas.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid detail about life along the great wagon road August 4, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After researching my family tree, I found it interesting that for several branches generation after generation were going from Ireland to Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, then strangely up to Indiana and Illinois. Other branches of my family tree took the National Road west, but the Great Wagon Road is an interesting story for the development of the early eastern United States. It was a road "worn down in earlier ages by buffalo." Later after the extinction of the eastern buffalo it was "the ancient Warrior's Path...used by Iroquois tribesmen of the north to come south and trade or make war in [what later would become] Virginia and the Carolinas."

While much has been written about the Scots-Irish, this book includes other Protestant migrants such as the German, Moravian, Palatine, and Quakers. The book also describes the various Protestant preachers such as Francis Asbury and Peter Muhlenberg that so affected the settlers, broadly cast the seeds of religious freedom and anti-slavery. Many of those clans who migrated to North Carolina, moved onto Tennessee and Kentucky only to find that they could not compete economically with slaveholders and moved north to the free labor states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. There they met other branches who generally followed the National Road west from Philadelphia.

The book is full of details that give the reader clear pictures of what life was like living along the great wagon road and various branches west. I recommend the book for those wanting an in-depth image of what their ancestors did to survive and make a life for themselves in this part of the country.
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42 of 51 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars America's First Great Migration! January 2, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This work is so poorly written, repeats itself and wanders away from its subject so often that it is more like a collage written by a high school student than a serious history. It is a cluttered hodgepodge. Yet it is an important work, one that should be read.
It is only recently that I realized Philadelphia was to the continental colonies what Ellis Island was to the later United States. I wonder how many Southerners will be surprised to find out that their ancestors migrated from the North. While the concept is amusing in a wry sort of way, it also helps explain the developing sense of colonial identity. Those people up North or down South were not strangers. They were Aunt Mary, Cousin John, or Grandpa!
The growth of Great Britain's American colonies was constrained by 2 facts of 16th and 17th century life: the Appalachian Mountains and King George II. It was a horrendous task to cross the mountains and their sovereign forbid it.
Founded on religious freedom, Pennsylvania became a haven for all sorts of people fleeing Europe. So for years, as population concentrations grew in and around Philadelphia, and because westward migration was out of the question, a natural migration southward occurred along an ancient Indian trading and warring path which connected the entire northern and southern east coast. This path was acquired from the Indians over time and became known as The Great Wagon Road, so labeled on a map drawn by Thomas Jefferson's father, Peter. It is over this settlers' path from Philadelphia that the western portions of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia were originally peopled. This migration was vast, lasting 50 to 60 years and numbering in the tens of thousands of people.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A very bad book July 9, 2011
By JWH
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is about as much fiction as truth. The author makes up the story as he goes along. If treated as historical fiction, it does give a fairly accurate notion of what happened, but it is not accurate history.

The author never discusses the Wagon Road itself which ran from Pennslyvania southward through Virginia into the Tennessee Valley with a branch going down into North Carolina. The book strays all over the map -- as far as South Carolina, and much of it has nothing to do with the Great Road.

When reading the early chapters of the book, I realized that it could not be trusted. Then I came upoon Chapter 13 "The Saga of Castle's Woods." The author had paraphrased my master's thesis. I am not sure if what he did is legal or not, but it, in my opinion was not ethical. He did give me one citation. But that is not the worst problem. He made up facts when he wanted to tell a colorful story about the people in Castle's Woods. Furthermore, he made quite a number of gross errors. For example, he states that Castle's Woods later became Saltville. Saltville is two counties away. Castle's Woods is in present Russell County while Saltville is in Smyth County Virginia. According to MapQuest that is a distance on 49.7 miles. Castle's Woods is about 25 miles from the Great Road.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is great. Helps to understand why the upcountry in Virginia, the...
This is great. Helps to understand why the upcountry in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and points west are conservative. Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. Kane
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Full of lots of relevant and interesting real life detail. Instead of an overly scholarly writing style, this is fun to read.
Published 6 months ago by Ronald E. York
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Wagon Road
This was an especially helpful book because the North-South route through the Valley of VA was the most used route by many immigrants who arrived in the port of Philadelphia,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Myra-Delia D. Kagey
3.0 out of 5 stars A good romp, but dubious history
Rouse offers the reader a well-spun story which, at times, feels almost Victorian in its romantic tone. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jon L. Albee
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for genealogists
This is a very interesting book, even if you're not into genealogy. The descriptions of travel over the road and how it evolved are vivid. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Judy M
1.0 out of 5 stars A disney script
This book is full of misinformation, old wives' tales, historical inaccuracies, and Hollywood legend.. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Paul Parish
4.0 out of 5 stars Good information here for research
This book covered the subject well. I would have liked to see some actual maps in the book but "Atlas of Appalachian Trails to the Ohio River" by Eldridge supplements it... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Claudia10
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thouroughly Enjoyable Read
I was delighted to read this book that described the path taken from Philadelphia into the Charlotte North Carolina region by my Morrisson ancestors. Read more
Published on April 19, 2011 by Kevin L. Woodard
4.0 out of 5 stars Eastern Migration History
This is a very interesting book pertaining to the migration of settlers from the North to the South. Read more
Published on March 22, 2006 by D. A. Wilkerson
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