Many Highlanders made the decision to emigrate to America. There was unrest between people and government. Many people had trouble paying land taxes, quitrents. There was also widespread poverty. The Highland Clearance forced Scots off their land to make room for a new adventure: lambs.
Although ships let emigrants off in many ports along the Atlantic Oceanside of America, the first Highlanders arrived in 1722 and settled along the lower Cape Fear River area in North Carolina.
Between 1729 and 1775 several thousand Scots came from the Highlands and the Isles directly to North Carolina and settled in the Upper Cape Fear area. Scots as individuals and families have been in North Carolina since the beginning of permanent settlement
Many immigrants to America unloaded at Pennsylvania, and took the Great Wagon Road to the southern colonies. This “road” was not like I-40. Traveling to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, there was one fork that led into the Tennessee Valley and Knoxville. The other fork went south into the Piedmont region of North Carolina, and ending on the Savannah River at Augusta, Georgia.
The Great Wagon Road was originally called the “Warriors Path. It was a hunting, trade, and war trail.
North Carolina was a direct result of British efforts to colonize the new world. It was also the place of the first English settlement which mysteriously disappeared.
This colony was a very popular one. Gabriel Johnson was governor of North Carolina from 1734-1752. He was a Scot himself. He encouraged 360 people to leave Scotland and come to his colony. The reward from the Legislature – ten years of paying no taxes for making North Carolina their new home.
That was an offer that many adventurous Scots could not refuse. On July 25, 1729, North Carolina became a royal colony when The Lord Proprietors sold their shares in the colony to King George II. The eight men who had dreamed of making a profit of the southern colony never obtained their goal. Governor Johnson continued to attract more Scots to move to his NC colony.
The immigrants who settled in the Mountain area were mostly of English, Scots-Irish, and German descent. Many moved from the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of North Carolina. One reason for moving to the far western area of the colony was the resources. The areas many springs provided water. Forests furnished wood that settlers could use to build log cabins and fences. Land was cheap and plentiful. The timber and minerals used in construction were very valuable resources. These brave souls made a rural way of life that still exists today.
Who knows if the Moravian settlements of Bethbara, Bethania, and Salem, as well as the cities of Charlotte and Salisbury might not exist except for the opportunity of the Great Wagon Road. Some settlers stopped in Charlotte, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem and stayed there.
What kind of jobs did the mountain settlers need to live and prosper? The main work was in agriculture and farming. Many craftsmen and artisans were these: wigmaker, wheelwright, tailor, gunsmith, blacksmith, cooper, cobbler, cabinet maker, and chandler. The chandler was a candle maker. The cobbler was the shoe maker. The cooper made barrels, casks, and buckets.
The milliner was the only job that a woman could have. A lady could sell ribbons, clothes for adults and children, shirts, shifts, undergarments, hoods, ruffles, stockings, muffs, aprons, kerchiefs, caps, cloaks, and trim for gowns and hair pieces.
The most important cash crops were corn and tobacco. Other crops included cotton, fruit, grains, vegetables, sugar, and indigo. When Scots first came to America, they brought with them cats, dogs, and other farm animals. These animals served as both pets and necessary livestock. Pigs, cows, deer, and turkey were sources of meat. Mountain men were quite successful in raising cattle, fishing, and hunting animals for their fur.
The Scots brought their folk songs and bagpipes. They knew how to have fun by singing or telling stories, having contests, or working together in spinning or quilting bees. Some liked to dance to fiddle and fife music. There was always horse racing and cock fighting
Children played leap frog, tag, hide and seek, sack and relay races. They played on a see-saw, jumped rope, swung, scotch-hopper (modern day hopscotch). Most of them loved the outdoors and spent as much time as they could outside.