Early Migration Trails, Jefferson County, MS

Early Migration Trails

To the "Natchez Country"


There were several different routes that the early pioneers used to move their families to the "Natchez Country" which would become the Southwest Mississippi Territory and at statehood the counties of Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Claiborne, Amite and Wilkinson.


From the Pee Dee River Valley 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.  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.


From Nashville to the "Natchez Country" on the Natchez Trace

Of course let's not forget those who traveled The Natchez Trace from Nashville, TN to Natchez, MS or stops along the way... Tupelo, Kosciusko, Madison, Jackson, Clinton, Port Gibson, Lorman, Fayette, Washington, or Natchez.   The Natchez Trace was one of the trails which the Indians allowed the settlers to use in accordance with a treaty with the United States government.  It was the most traveled of the land routes into the Natchez country.

One land route went from Knoxville to Natchez by way of the Tombigbee River.  This went through the Cherokee Indian territory.

The other land route to Natchez left the Oconne settlement in Georgia crossing the Alabama River to Fort Stevens and the Tombigbee River.


From Mobile or Pensacola to the
Southwest Mississippi Territory

One other route of migration was to travel by ship from the East Coast to Mobile.  Then they traveled overland to Lake Ponchatrain.  Flat boats and canoes carried these pioneers through various rivers, lakes and bayous into southwest Mississippi. Some of the early settlements were along the Amite River, Beaver Creek, Buffalo River, Homochitto River and Cole's Creek. 

The New Jersey settlers to Adams County under the leadership of Richard and Samuel Swayze chartered a schooner in New Jersey.  Their friends and family departed Perth Amboy in October, 1772 for the Natchez Country where they had purchased about 20,000 acres from Captain Ogden at 25 cents per acre.  Landing in Pensacola, Florida they traveled along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in an open boat to Lake Borgne.  They passed through Lake Ponchatrain and Lake Maurepas.  Then they followed the Pass Manchac to the Mississippi River where they traveled upriver to the Homochitto River.  Almost at their destination they went up the Homochitto to the area known as Kingston, the sight of their land purchase.


From New Orleans to Natchez

Some pioneers traveled from the East Coast to New Orleans by ship.  They then traveled up the Mississippi to Natchez on river boats.  This was by far the least dangerous and most "comfortable" way to travel.  It was also the most expensive.


Your Contributions

Let me encourage you to share your information about your ancestor's migration to southwest Mississippi.  Also, contact Carolyn Switzer if you would like to add to any of the above articles that I have compiled.  I would really like to add pioneer family names to these migration trails.


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This page was last updated on Monday, 10-Sep-2018 08:49:28 MDT.


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