Early Migration Trails

From the Pee Dee River Valley, NC
to Cole's Creek and Curtis Landing

The pioneers to the new "Natchez Country" would leave the Pee Dee River area of SC/NC and travel about 200 miles using pack-horses to the Holston RIver in northeastern Tennessee.   They traveled via the South Carolina State Road (North) on the Warriors Path.   They continued on the Catawba Trail to the Wilderness Road Fort near Kingsport, Tennessee. (Some of the present day towns and cities they would pass through were: Cheraws, SC; Wadesboro, NC; New Salem, NC; Lenoir, NC; Blowing Rock, NC; Boone, NC; Hampton, TN; Johnson City, TN; and Kingsport, TN.   The automobile driving distance today would be over 250 miles.)

At the Wilderness Road Fort they secured/built flat boats.   The flat boats were sturdy with one end enclosed for protection from the elements.   The flat boat had to be designed to allow for the women, children, food, bedding and household items.   They had to transport a milk cow, chickens, horses, hunting dogs and farm implements.   Once aboard the flat boats they followed the Holston River to the Tennessee River which they entered near Knoxville, TN. (They traveled near present day towns of Surgoinsville, TN; Chalk Level, TN: Cherokee Lake; Buffalo Springs, TN; and Mascot, TN)

Indian attacks were a frequent occurrence.   The pioneers always had to be prepared.   The women often steered the boats while the men fought the Indians.   Some used chairs as shields, holding against their chests as protection from the Indian arrows.   Following the Tennessee River they reached the Ohio River near Paducah, KY. (On this leg they traveled near present day towns of Dayton, TN; Chattanooga, TN; Scottsboro, AL; Guntersville, AL; Decatur, AL; Florence, AL; Savannah,TN; Perryville, TN; Sycamore Landing, TN; Eva, TN; Aurora, KY; and Lake City, KY)   From Paducah the flat boats floated down the Ohio River where they entered the Mississippi near Cairo, IL. (This is near present day Metropolis, IL; and about 30 miles south of Cape Girardeau, MO).

At Cairo, IL the flat boats embarked on the "mercy" of the mighty Mississippi River for the rest of the journey to the "Natchez Country." (They traveled near present day towns like Hayti, MO; Cathursville, MO; Heloise, TN; Osceloa, AR; Memphis, TN; Helena, AR; Rosedale, MS; Greenville, MS; Lake Providence, LA; and Vicksburg, MS)   South of Rodney one group of pioneers steered the flat boats into Boyd's Creek (now Cole's Creek) for the 15 mile trip to Curtis Landing on the South Fork of Cole's Creek.   Other pioneers continued on to Natchez or Wilkinson County steering their flat boats up St. Catherine's Creek, the Homochitto River or Buffalo River.

These pioneers had made a trip of approximately 1400 miles by flat boat on water.   The total miles traveled by horse-pack and flat boat would be about 1650-1700 miles.

Upon arrival it was necessary to fell trees and build log houses quickly.   Fields needed to be cleared and cultivated. The survival for the first year was dependent on the family's ability to fish and hunt.   Squirrel, deer, ducks, and wild turkey were the family's fresh meat.

One of the pioneer families who had a British land grant in Jefferson County included James Cole who arrived October, 1772 with the paperwork finalized in 1776.   Richard Curtis who arrived in 1780.

Matthew Nugent probably used this route to relocate from Brunswick, NC area to the Natchez, Adams County, MS area.   Matthew came with his wife, Isabel Macbray and his sons, Edmond and Matthew and his daughters Marie and Dorothy and their husbands, Gabriel Martin and Gerald Brandon.   Gabriel's brother Zachariah Martin traveled with them.

In 1779, an expedition under Don Bernardo de Galvez, Spanish governor of Louisiana Territory, captured the British Fort in Natchez.   After the fall of the British at Baton Rouge, General Galvez negotiated the surrender of the English Fort Panmure in Natchez on September 21, 1779.   The Spanish, with generous land grants, gave the residents opportunity to move to Opelousas Post in early 1780.   After a decade at Opelousas Post, the Nugent family moved to Rapides Post about 1790.   Dorothy and her husband Gerald Brandon stayed in Mississippi when the rest of the family relocated to Louisiana.
Link to a PDF genealogy file on Dorothy and Gerald Brandon. This requires Adobe Reader to view.

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