The Early Settlers 1750-1770
In the mid 18th century the interior of what is now North Carolina, especially around the area we call the Triad, was remarkably empty of human habitation. Though there are ample signs of long periods of Native American settlement and life going back thousands of years, buy the mid 18th century most of the tribes of this area had been forced to move out, nit because of pressure from European settlers, but because of Indian raids from the north. See my article on Indians of the Middle Piedmont.
Ironically the very means by which northern Indian tribes moved so easily south to harass southern tribes became the means by which European settlers from the northern colonies came by the thousands to the interior of North Carolina in the mid 18th century.
I refer to what is now called The Great Wagon Road which from Southeastern Pennsylvania down through Maryland, through the mountains and mountain valleys of western Virginia, and entering North Carolina through present day eastern and southeastern Stokes County, western Forsyth County, and eventually down through the present day Charlotte area all the way to Augusta Georgia. There were various spurs off the main path, which connected it to other ancient Indian trails, many of which became main roads (and even present day Interstates!).
A secondary but not unimportant route for early settlers was along the ancient Indian Trading Path which ran more or less form Petersburg Virginia to the southwest, through present day Alamance and Guilford Counties eventually connecting the Catawba Indian settlements down near present day Charlotte. The is roughly the path of present day I-85!
The backcountry of North Carolina was settled by a whole different breed of folk than earlier settled the coastal areas. A case can be made that the piedmont of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina was in effect a de facto separate colony, so different were the people and their ways from the moneyed elite of the coastal plain and coast.
The Triad was settled primarily in a wave of migrations by four religious groups, the Moravians, the German Lutheran and Reformed, the Quakers, and the Scots-Irish Presbyterians. All four groups came to our area and began settlements between around 1745 and 1770. We will try to deal with each in turn as we look at this period from 1745 to 1770.