Lower Cherokee Traders' Path
The Lower Cherokee Traders' Path was an important trade route on the Piedmont connecting the Cherokee and other interior tribes with the Occaneechi tribe, middlemen traders in southern Virginia, to the early European colonists on the Chesapeake Bay. It was considered the west fork of the Occaneechi Path (Traders' Path) and became a major part of the Upper Road. For a list and map of other South Carolina roads see South Carolina Emigration and Immigration.
By 1748 the Upper Road was open and settlers began pouring in. At first a few traders, isolated farmers, or innkeepers settled along the path with Cherokee permission. The first European settlement in counties along the Path happened as follows: Mecklenburg 1740s, Gaston 1740s, York 1750, Cherokee 1750s, Spartanburg 1755, Greenville 1777, British Fort Prince George in Pickens 1753 , Oconee 1784, and Stephens 1781. Between 1750 and 1784 the Lower Cherokee Traders path through South Carolina helped bring as many as 250,000 settlers to the area as the Cherokee Indians ceded more and more lands. In 1760 there was a war between South Carolina and the Cherokee in which most lower Cherokee villages were destroyed. During the Revolutionary War the Cherokee sided with the British. After a Cherokee-British attack in 1776, a Patriot counter-attack drove most of the remaining Cherokee from South Carolina.
Most European settlers were Ulster-Irish Presbyterians mostly from Pennsylvania, but plenty of English, Welsh, native Irish, native Scots, Swiss, French, and Germans were also included.
Modern Interstate 85 from Charlotte, North Carolina to Greenville, South Carolina runs a little north of the old route, and from there on South Carolina Highway 123 to the Georgia border is similar to the old route.
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.
Counties on the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path (east to west)
- North Carolina: Mecklenburg, Gaston
- South Carolina: York, Cherokee, Spartanburg, Greenville, Pickens, Oconee
- Georgia: Stephens
Overlapping and Connecting Routes. The Upper Road, the Occaneechi Path, and the Great Valley Road (south fork) all connected to the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path at Charlotte, North Carolina. The Lower Cherokee Traders' Path and Upper Road fork off to the west though Gaston County, North Carolina and all six of the northern-most counties of South Carolina.
The Catawba and Northern Trail (for a map, click here) leaves the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path at York County, South Caroina and heads north to the Yadkin River settlements in North Carolina. The Cherokee Old Path and a branch of the Catawba Trail started north from the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path near Greenville County.
Several trails continued on from the the western end of the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path at the former Cherokee village of Tugaloo, Georgia.
- Savannah River
- Lower_Cherokee_Traders'_Path a pre-historic trail connecting the Lower Cherokee Villages to the Catawba Indians (Charlotte, North Carolina)
- Old Cherokee Path a pre-historic trail from the Lower Cherokee Villages to Washington County, Virginia on the Great Valley Road (also known as the Great Indian Warpath)
- Coosa-Tugaloo Indian Warpath was a pre-historic path that went toward Birmingham, Alabama
- Tugaloo-Apalachee Bay Trail was a pre-historic trail headed for the Florida panhandle and probably Mission San Luis de Apalachee
- Augusta and Cherokee Trail was a pre-historic trail from Tugaloo originally to Savannah Town, South Carolina and later Augusta, Georgia
- Old South Carolina State Road 1747 a fork of this road apparently connected Tugaloo, Georgia to Fort Prince George, to Columbia and to Charleston, South Carolina.
- Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path after 1765 followed the northeast side of the Savannah River from the Old Cherokee Path in Oconee County down to old Fort Charlotte in northwest McCormick County, South Carolina
- Upper Road about 1783 (overlapping the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path) connecting Fredericksburg, Virginia to Macon, Georgia
- Unicoi Turnpike opened to a few European traders 1690, but the wagon road was not opened to settlers until 1813 from near Tugaloo headed northwest to the Overhill Cherokee villages and Knoxville in Tennessee
Settlers and Records
No lists of settlers who used or settled along the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path are known to exist. However, local and county histories along the road may reveal that many of the first pioneer settlers arrived from places to the northeast along the Upper Road, the Occaneechi Path, the Fall Line Road, or the Great Valley Road (south fork).
The most likely place of origin for settlers along the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path was from the Waxhaws and the Yadkin River settlements in North Carolina. Those from farthest away may have arrived from southern Virginia, Maryland, or even the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania or southern New Jersey. Some Ulster-Irish setters may have come via the port of Philadelphia a generation earlier.
- Cherokee Lower Towns has maps of town locations, a link to a Revolutionary War battle database, sources, and list of Revolutionary War battles involving Cherokees.
- Georgia History Early Trails describes westward migration on and route of the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path and other routes through Georgia.
- Wikipedia contributors, "Tugaloo," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tugaloo (accessed 5 April 2011).
- North Carolina - The Counties, http://www.carolana.com/NC/Counties/nc_counties_alphabetical_order.html (accessed 1 February 2011).
- South Carolina - The Counties, http://www.carolana.com/SC/Counties/sc_counties_alphabetical_order.html (accessed 1 February 2011).
- "Jesse Walton d. 1789," Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/imagegallery.php?EntryID=W012 (accessed 1 February 2011).
- Oconee County, Carolina" in South Carolina: The Counties at http://www.carolana.com/SC/Counties/oconee_county_sc.html (accessed 1 February 2011).
- "York County, South Carolina" in South Carolina: The Counties at http://www.carolana.com/SC/Counties/york_county_sc.html (accessed 1 February 2011).
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 851. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 847-61. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002) WorldCat entry., and William E. Myer, Indian Trails of the Southeast. (Nashville, Tenn.: Blue and Gray Press, 1971), 12-14, and the book's pocket map "The Trail System of the Southeastern United States in the early Colonial Period" (1923). (FHL Book 970.1 M992i) WorldCat entry.
- Lowell Kirk, "The Unicoi Turnpike" at http://www.telliquah.com/unicoi.htm (accessed 3 May 2011).
- William E. Myer, Indian Trails of the Southeast. (Nashville, Tenn.: Blue and Gray Press, 1971). (FHL Book 970.1 M992i) WorldCat entry.