Discover your Family Tree Today

Discover Genealogy Migration Routes Across the United States to Trace your Ancestry

Have you ever wondered how your ancestors traveled across the United States after arriving from distant origins of the world? Travel was not easy. Roads were rough and getting from one place to another was a bit challenging. With the conditions and means of transportation, it is a wonder how our relatives endured their trips. Most early roads were built along waterways to making movement a bit easier than having to walk. Some of these roads began as Indian hunting trails as early as the late 1500’s and grew into well traveled traces and later developed into roads over the next 300 years. These roads may have left genealogy clues to your ancestry.

Early North Eastern Roads May lead you to a New Ancestry Discovery

Study migration trails to learn more about your family roots by the journey they took. Knowing where the roads go will help in tracing your heritage back to where it began. Hopefully you can find records your ancestors left by checking genealogy research repositories along the migration path; determine the course of a road by comparing historical maps and determine migration routes and towns your relatives traveled through. Creating a time line of events can be helpful in recreating your ancestry. Remember boundaries changed over time so use maps that will follow the years you are researching.

The Road your Ancestors Followed

Counties changed names and boundaries, so did roads. For instance portions of King’s Highway was called the Great Coastal Road and the Potomac Trail. Some of the major colonial roads are: Boston Post Road, Kings Highway, Fall Line Road, Upper Road, The Great Wagon Road, the Great Valley Road, Wilderness Road and Cumberland Gap, and Braddock’s Road. You just might find your genealogy ancestry along the way.

Boston Post Road

The trail was created to carry mail and became known as the Boston Post Road. The first trip took four weeks. The first stagecoach made the trip in 1772 and took one week. Later the road was extended to Kings Highway.

Mohawk Trail

The route began as a Native American trade route, that was carved as a natural path from the Hudson Valley along the Mohawk River to the Great Lakes. By 1770 it reached from Albany to Buffalo. Today it is part of the New York Thruway (1-90).

Kings Highway

Originally this road was created to carry mail between Boston and New York. By 1750, it was used for stagecoaches and wagons which ran from Boston to Charleston, South Carolina, linking all thirteen colonies. The road was approximately 1300 miles. This route has many tales to tell, if only it could talk, we might be surprised at some of the stories.

Pennsylvania Road

During the French and Indian War, troops widened the road to provide passage for wagon trains. In 1792 the Pennsylvania Legislature established the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike Road Company. It became the first long-distance paved road. By 1794 the Lancaster Turnpike went from Philadelphia to Lancaster and was opened to traffic at a rate of a penny a mile. If you have German, Irish, or Scottish heritage, there is a good chance they traveled this road and may have left some genealogy ancestry clues along the way. After it was completed, the charter was extended to build westward to Pittsburgh. Today, it links Lancaster to Philadelphia at 34th Street, stretching sixty-two miles. The route is designated as PA 462 to US 30.

Great Valley Road also known as the Great Wagon Road

Travelers in the early 1700’s were mainly German, and Scot-Irish. By 1750, wagons and stagecoaches were operating on the road. Settlers traveled the Road from Philadelphia to Virginia following the Yadkin River and became a feeder into the Wilderness Road; the general route today is Interstate 81 or U.S. Highway 11.

Braddock’s Road

This military road was famous for Washington’s first battlefield in 1754 and where Braddock’s army had an encampment, leaving behind some important military genealogy history. Today, highway 40 follows nearly the same route from Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh, PA and follows the Potomac River to the Monongahela River.

Fall Line Road

Many pioneers who traveled between Fredericksburg, VA and Augusta, GA followed the Fall Line up to the Federal Road. There were 4 main paths comprising the route. Today, the route passes through Highway 1 and I-95.

Carolina Road also known as the Upper Road

Running along the Potomac River connecting North and South Carolina was this 65 mile route no more than 10 feet wide. Originally it was an Indian hunting path and later became more traveled as it developed into a trading route during the 1700’s. It was an alternative to the Fall Line Road and King’s Highway.

Natchez Trace

Follow genealogy ancestry clues through the Indian trails from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi along the Mississippi River. The Indians used this trail for hunting. They allowed post riders through, but it was a path notorious for robbers, murderers, and slave stealers. The 500 mile route became a road in 1806 commissioned under the government.

North Eastern Roads Plotted on Maps with Counties may help you with your Genealogy

We have taken the above roads and plotted them on the various states with their existing counties for the year of 1750 and 1800 to help with your early ancestry research. If you have ancestors that were in this part of the country during that time, you can see where your relatives possibly traveled giving a better insight to how they migrated from one area to another, which can help you discover new ancestry clues. To view a map for a specific trail, click on the road name under our links (on the right). Good luck with tracing your genealogy and ancestry with old migration routes.