The Great Wagon Road to the Western Frontier

The earliest records of Burke County are a problem to genealogists because the ink in the will book dating from 1793 faded beyond recognition.

Burke County North Carolina Probate Records available to members of North Carolina Pioneers

Digital Images of Burke County Wills 1793 to 1869 (surviving images)

Avery, Wrightsville | Bradshaw, William | Branch, Oliver | Brittain, W. L. | Coffee, William | Connelly, John | Connelly, Sidney | Connelly, Tilney | Dale, George | Day, James | Day, Nicholas | Devine, James | Durham, John | Durmire, Adam | Dysart, William | Dyson, Samuel | Edmiston, Sarah | England, Daniel | England, John | England, Thomas | England, William | Erwin, Arthur | Erwin, James | Erwin, Matilda | Erwin, Ulysses | Erwin, William H. | Erwin, William W. | Espy, Mary | Estes, Delphi | Estes, John | Estes, Laban | Estes, Reuben | Fair, Joseph | Finley, Charles | Fleming, Elizabeth | Fleming, James | Fleming, Robert | Forney, Jacob | Forney, Peter | Foster, George | Fox, Hugh | Franklin, John | Fullerton, William | Fulwood, William | Harshaw, Jacob | Hoyle, Absalom | Johnson, D. H. | Kenley, Aaron | Kincaid, Milton H. | Lail, Jacob | London, Marcus | Mathew, George | McGimsey, A. T. | McKesson, Anna | Newburn, John | O’Neil, Henry | Pullen, Mary | Ramsey, Catherine | Rector, Martha | Reynolds, Nancy | Robinson, Sophia | Scott, Ambrose | Scott, Rebecca | Seagle, Jacob | Smith, Mary Southerland | Tate, W. C. | Taylor, Hugh | Walton, Martha | Walton, T. George

Linville Falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains

The falls are situated on the Linville River, which is a tributary of the Catawba River. As one approach, he encounters the wild scenery as it has thrived for hundreds of years, as though Nature planted the surrounding forest in every imaginable spot in a futile to cloak this beauty from the eyes of the world. Then suddenly there is the loud roaring sound of musical water as it plunges itself into a deep pool hemmed in by gray granite rock. The falls are about 150 feet broad and the water source threads through lofty cliffs clustered in a profusion of beautiful vines and flowers. And all along the gorge, waiting to be discovered, are numerous enchanting caverns.

Names of Families in Burke County Wills, Probate Records, Genealogy

Mountain scenes in Burke County, North Carolina. Burke County was formed from Rowan County in 1777 and was named after Thomas Burke, a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1781. Also, he served as Governor of the State of North Carolina from 1781 to 1782. Most of this region was settled by many Scots-Irish and German immigrants. In 1791, parts of Burke County and Rutherford County were combined to form Buncombe County. In 1833, Yancey County was formed from parts of Burke County and Buncombe County. In 1841, parts of Burke County and Wilkes County formed Caldwell County and in 1842 additional parts of Burke County and Rutherford County were combined to make McDowell County. Finally, in 1861, parts of Burke County, Caldwell County, McDowell County, Watauga County, and Yancey County were combined to form Mitchell County. Burke County citizens participated in the Battle of Kings Mountain which pitted Appalachian frontiersmen against the loyalist forces of the British commander, Ferguson, at Kings Mountain, South Carolina during the American Revolution, and were called ” Over the Mountain Men” because the militiamen did not wait for bur crossed over the Blue Ridge mountains to engage the fight.

Immigrants from the Past did not Demand

No demands were made of Americans to support migrating families from Europe. The poor, starving immigrants crossed the seas to America during the worst times of their life, a potato famine in Ireland. They wanted to warn their way in America. But getting employment was difficult, especially since they were an unwelcome lot to New York. Yet, they struggled to earn a living and make a better future for their families. The able-bodied Irish rolled up their sleeves and went to work! Life was tough. It took and many years for the Irish to earn acceptance overcome the obstacles facing them. Yet, they just kept working their way out of poverty! Recent excavations in that State reveal bodies without proper burial, thrown into ditches, presumably in the Irish districts. We do not realize how these people suffered from the unwillingness of people to hire them. But there is one thing for sure. They did not arrive in America making demanding charity!

The Trail of the Scotch-Irish into Burke County

The Scotch-Irish began migrating in large numbers to America during the early 1700s, as did the Germans. Before the American Revolution, it is estimated that 3000 to 4000 Irish had arrived at the port of Philadelphia. Because of language and dialects, settlers made their homes among their own kind in Bucks, Berks, and Lancaster Counties. The genealogist should examine these county records as well as those in Philadelphia. I would also suggest researching Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of Quaker Genealogy because some immigrants were seeking other religions before moving into western Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky. The early 1700s was a great exploration era through the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains. The Boone families lived among a community of Irish Quakers in Philadelphia. I believe Daniel Boone’s grandfather (George) was one of them, and they had substantially large families. Daniel was not the only member of the family who crossed through Virginia into Kentucky.
His uncle Squire Boone lived for a time in western Virginia (Augusta County, later Botetourt) while others went further west. Some Scots first settled in Chester County (later Lancaster County) Pennsylvania before moving on as far west as Ohio. During this time Native Indian tribes occupied the territories between Virginia and Ohio, yet settlers continued to flow into the region. The Treaty of 1744 provided the colonists with the right to settle along the Indian Road, however, the Indian Wars (1756-1763) stopped settlers. Afterward, however, they came in great numbers going south of the Shenandoah Valley to the Roanoke River and the town of Big Lick. From that point, a new road was cut, called ” Wilderness Road” which led into Kentucky and ended at the Ohio River where the Shawnee had their stronghold. The trail of the Scotch-Irish was along the Great Wagon Road through Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. Burke County, North Carolina was a major settlement.

Coffin Ships

During the potato famine in Ireland, the Irish came to America through the ports of Boston and New York. They also employed a route by land through Canada known as ” British North America, ” first setting sail to Canada to avoid the ” coffin ships” The term was used because of the large number of deaths on board ships sailing in the Trans-Atlantic. For a while, some groups played over in Canada until they could raise sufficient funds to continue to America.