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Travel From the Southern States to Indiana in the 1700's

My ancestors traveled across the old trails from the southern states into Indiana. The "Old Trace" that crossed the Ohio river at Louisville, Kentucky, was known to the white people as the Clarksville and Vincennes trace. It had been a main traveled way for years and was a most favored route, with 2/3 of all the early settlers who came to southern Indiana, west of Louisville, came from over the route. It was the most prominent early line of travel in southern Indiana and was also called the "Buffalo Trace, the "Kentucky Road", "Vincennes Trace", "Clarksville Trace", "Harrison's Road", "Lan-zo-mi-wi", and others.

Entering Indiana at the Falls of the Ohio,the Buffalo Trace passed in a northwesterly direction and left Indiana at Vincennes. On his second visit to Vincennes, IN, in 1786 and after his famous capture of that post, General Clsrk marched about 1,000 men over the Buffalo Trace, from the Falls of the Ohio to Vincennes. This was after he had conquered the great Northwest and given an empire to his country. The "Trace" was used by General Harrison and Indiana to locate a treaty line. ("Family Tree", Vol. VI, No. 3, June/July 1995) The Buffalo Trace was wide enough for two wagons to pass. It wasn't easy to travel in those days with all the dangers.

The trails were not straight because men and animals desired a firm footing on the windy trail. To locate a straight line for the treaty, it was necessary to survey the old "trace" first using a chain and compass. the survey of the Old Buffalo Trace was begun 11 July 1805 by William Rector.

Indians followed the trails because they were open and easy to travel and besides there was much game and vast herds of buffalo. In spring the buffalo moved north from the favorite winter salt licks called "Big Bone" and "Blue Licks" of Kentucky, avoiding the hills and swamps, making it easy for people to travel in their steps. The Indians of the Ohio River region told how the buffalo perished near the beginning of the last century by a winter of "great cold." The snow was deep on the ground for many months and there was no food for the animals. This continued until they all had died. (Indiana Historical Society Publication, 4, Vol 2, State Auditor's Office; Smith's Indiana; Vol. 1; Glasscock's Indiana' Indiana Plat Book 5, pp 6, 12 and 2; and John L. Ragle)

For twenty-five years after the Revolutionary War, the Ohio River was the primary destination of virtually all western migrations in the U.S. This is where the first public land sales were opened, unlike the South. Georgia did not cede its western lands until 1802, and these new public lands were encompassed into a new Mississippi Territory.

One Way to Tell Where Ancestors Were Born

The boundaries of the states were changing constantly in the early days. People born in Virginia in 1728 or as late as 1850 were actually born in any part of Illinois (1781-1818); Kentucky (1775-1792); North Carolina (1728-1779); Tennessee (1760-1803); Indiana (1787-1816; Maryland (1775-1792); Ohio (1778-1803) or West Virginia (1769-1853). The Grandmother of my Dicy Ragle was said to be born in North Carolina. However there are records which show her to have possibly been born in Tennessee. Her name was Dicy Martin. The above information on the boundaries of the states came from a publication called "Family Tree", Vol. VI, No. 3, June/July 1995.