shenandoah Abraham Woodward made the trek between Chester County, Pennsylvania and old Rowan County, North Carolina, with his young family about 1761, and then made the round trip back in 1765 to appear before the Friends in Chester County.

There were two primary routes. The "Upper Road" went south through Baltimore and Annapolis, then to Alexandria, Virginia (the city of Washington did not exist). From there it went south through Fredericksburg, and on to central North Carolina.

Abraham, if he followed the overwhelming majority, would have taken the Great Wagon Road(s), which went west from Philadelphia through Lancaster and York, then west-southwest (by the Fry/Jefferson map) in almost a straight line to cross a range about ten miles south of Shipensburg (Shippensburg on current maps), passing through Black's Gap. Another route could have been a little north to cross the Susquehanna at Harris' Ferry (now Harrisburg), as in 1736 the first road was laid out in the Cumberland Valley. It would be most probably termed in these days a bridle road, that is, a road over which the trains of pack-horses could travel and carry, as they did, the articles of commerce of that day. In the year named, the courts of Lancaster appointed COLONEL CHAMBERS and five others, to view roads and survey important lines. In 1735 a road had been ordered to be made from Harris' Ferry toward the Potomac River, and COLONEL CHAMBERS and party surveyed the route and "blazed it out." This first road, strange as it seems now, met with considerable opposition "from a number of inhabitants on the west side of the Susquehanna." It was originally intended to extend only from Harris' Ferry to Letort Springs, (Carlisle).









So travelers would take a westerly route, probably through Woodstock, which had been established in 1752.



Continuing south, the traveler would have the Massanutten Range on the left (east). This range separates the North Fork of the Shenandoah River from the South Fork. This view is near current New Market.



Further south, in Rockingham County, the town of Harrisonburg was growing up. Many of the buildings in this painting of 1800-era Harrisonburg were there in the 1770's.





About two miles southwest was the Harrison house:













About ten miles southwest, perhaps west of the easiest route, was an iron works:









A local historian said that the trail didn't follow exactly Route 11 and didn't stay too close to the Shenandoah river, as both those were "too much up and down". It went through Keezeltown, a little northeast of Harrisonburg, and then through Harrisonburg. The railroad tracks are a good indicator of easy slopes. The first image is of a little stream flowing south. The next is across the stream, with Mount Massanutten looming over the town.









Next is the "lower ford" over the North River at Port Republic. This is now a boat landing, with a bridge upstream. These views are of upstream and down.









At this point the smaller South River (not the large South Fork) joins the North River. A few hundred yards south (upstream) from here is what one book calls the "Pennsylvania Ford", because of the number of travelers originating there.







Between the North River and this ford is an old cemetery







An overview of this valley - Keezeltown would be on the far left, Port Republic on the right.



Further south, they would pass through Staunton, then Roanoke and make the crossing of the James River. Still further south, where Bassett later became a furniture center, is the smaller Smith River, where the valley provides an easy path.



A little south of Bassett is Grassy Creek, with little water but lots of pasture.



The Fry-Jefferson map shows the road angling southwest, to the west of "War Mountain", now called Chestnut Knob. The highways go to the east of the Knob.

In 1750, when Daniel Boone was sixteen, he and his family moved from Berks County, Pennsylvania to the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. Their object in moving was to escape the censure that the Berks Quakers had placed against Daniel's father, Squire. At Linville Creek, Virginia, they visited the Obryan family, into which Daniel's sister had married. Daniel returned from North Carolina in 1755 to "fetch" Rebecca Obryan for his bride.

In 1753, twelve Moravian single brethen, on their way from Pennsylvania to North Carolina with horses and a wagon, passed through Winchester at noon on October 18. Their journal says it "consisted of about sixty houses, which are rather poorly built. A mile beyond...we stopped at a mill and bought some bread and corn...We continued an soo came to water. We still had four miles to Jose Haid's (Jos. Hite, probably). We pitched our tent beyond the mill....We put our horses in a meadow, as we had no more feed for them."
By October 22 they had traveled almost to New Market, where they went "to a tavernkeeper, named Severe." (Valentine Sevier, father of Gen. John Sevier. The latter was about eight years old at this time.)
They "inquired about the way, but could not get good information. After traveling three and a half miles we found two passable roads....we took the road to the right. We traveled ten miles without finding water. It was late already and we were compelled to travel five miles during the dark night. We had to climb two mountains, which compelled us to push the wagon along or we could not have proceeded, for our horses were completely fagged out. Two of the brethren had to go ahead to show us the road; and we arrived late at Thom Harris's plantation (Fort Harrison pictures above). Here we bought feed for our horses and pitched our tent a short distance from the house. The people were very friendly. They lodge strangers very willingly."

In 1756, George Washington, who was headquartered in Winchester, had made a tour to the far southwest to inspect the frontier forts. Historians believe he traveled south by the "Old Keezletown Road," and on his return, being a good and zealous surveyer, he mapped a straighter course by Harrisonburg, Lacey Springs, Tenth Legion, and on to Winchester.
In May of 1760 he made a trip to Frederick (he had inherited lands in Frederick County from his half-brother Lawrence), and also inspected a site upon which a bloomery and other iron-working enterprises were projected. He also owned property in Bath (now Berkeley Springs, West Virginia). In the late summer of 1769 he, Mrs. Washington, and her daughter Patsy Custon spent over a month there, in a round of entertainment and recreation. Both going and coming, they were entertained at Fairfield, the county estate of George's first cousin Warner Washington, about thirteen miles east of Winchester.

Around 1758, two hundred Acadians who had been landed in Maryland, migrated to their compatriots in Louisiana, traveling overland with horses and wagons. In the company was Emmeline Labiche, Longfellow's "Evangeline".

In 1782 grandfather Abraham Lincoln with his family, including his young son, Thomas, took the Valley road south as they traveled from Virginia to the "wilds of Kentucky."
In 1783 Thomas Jefferson elected to vary his accustomed route in attending, as a representative of Virginia, the meeting of the Continental Congress. Leaving Monticello on October 16, he went westward over the mountains and examined Madison's Cave. The entrance to this curiosity is but 220 yards from the entrance to the famous Weyer's Cave, the existence of which was not known for another two decades. Weyer's Cave is a little southeast of Harrisonburg. This was the most westerly route which Jefferson used, and it took him through Woodstock, Winchester, Harper's Ferry, Frederick, Tawneytown, McAlistertown, Susquehanna, and Lancaster - he reached Philadelphia on October 29th.

In the next century the Valley would have countless more travelers:
John James Audubon, riding Barro from Henderson, KY to Philadelphia
Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, James K. Polk, Frances Asbury preaching to the Methodists of Harrisonburg,
Abraham could have walked over land south of Staunton where Cyrus McCormick would perfect the reaper in the 1830's.
A century after Abraham, Phil Sheridan and Stonewall Jackson would maneuver and skirmish all over the valley. The Valley regards Sheridan as Georgia does Sherman, because of the burning of all crops and buildings.

Walter Reed, in the family of a minister, lived in Harrisonburg.
A little south in Staunton, Woodrow Wilson was born.

Great Wagon Road



The 1755 map by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson (father of Thomas) shows the road crossing the upper branches of Antietam Creek and then to the "Patowmack" at Williams Ferry, where Conegogee Creek flows in from the north. From Williams Ferry it parallels Opechon Creek to the southwest.
Very likely Abraham and his family would have traveled on through Charles Town (now West Virginia) and Hopewell Meeting, north of Winchester, Virginia, where Friends had been settled for over twenty years.
This Fry-Jefferson map shows TWO "waggon roads" down the valley, both some miles away from the river. The northern one had crossed the Potomac at Williams Ferry, and the southern road stops at the Potomac.