The Tracy Family History
This is the famed Cumberland Gap. There are
many photos of this gateway to American history, dating from days of old to
today. I have chosen this photo from our Cousin Neander Woods' book of 1905,
because it is blurry and old, and shows the Gap much as it was when our people
passed through it.
Hoofed animals may not have the ability to reason or think like humans, but they are not totally stupid. The deer, buffalo, and other animals must constantly migrate to survive. They travel for new pasture, water and the precious salt licks.
They are smart and follow the path of least resistance. To get through a mountain range they do not go straight up to the top of the mountain and down the other side. They look for low-level gaps.
For centuries these animal trails were well defined to a trained eye: Enter the Indians. The Indians must also travel for water, salt, and most of all, to hunt the same animals. (Also, to do war with the other tribes and to torture, kill, and scalp the white settlers.) The Indians are not stupid. They also want to travel the path of least resistance. So, they follow the well-defined deer, buffalo, etc. trails.
Our people, the pioneers, were not stupid either. When they traveled to find new lands to settle, they also required the same elements to sustain life. To reach these new lands, they also followed the deer trails, which are now shared as Indians trails, which now become traces for our people.
The pioneers need to have a method to mark and guide them through these, not-so-well defined paths. They take an axe and make notches in the trees to mark the way. These paths are now called "traces." A trace can accommodate a person on foot, on horseback, or you can led a pack animal. This photo is of the famed Boone’s Trace through the Wasioto Gap, near Pineville, Kentucky, cut by Daniel Boone in 1775.
In that year, Daniel Boone leads a party of 30 axe men (called pioneers) and cuts a trace through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains and enters Kentucky. The legal position for this land company enterprise is highly questionable. However, legal technicalities rarely stood in the way of our peoples' migrations.
West of the Appalachians is exclusively Indian Territory, by British law. The white man is not to enter. It is also claimed by the French. So we are double encroaching. The British can’t do much about stopping us because this area is to far away for them too control. The French can’t do anything to stop us because they are too far away. There are, however, the Indians.
By 1740, the last of the Indians are out the Valley of Virginia. Where do the go? There is only one direction, to the west, on the other side of the Appalachians. As I told you before, the Kentucky was not the Indians' land, per se; the Indians did not live there. The various tribes used the Kentucky to hunt and do battle with the other tribes. They had no permanent villages there. The land is vast and fertile and ready for a land developer.
One problem: It is, by treaty, Indian land.
Our people get into Kentucky legally, to begin with. In 1749, Dr. Thomas Walker becomes the agent for the Loyal Land Company of England. They are granted an 800,000-acre patent anywhere they want to go west of the Allegheny Mountains. Among Dr. Walker’s partners is William Woods. (Of course he has a military title, colonel.) He is the eldest son of Michael of Blair Park.
(Our people found out early on that showing the Indians their Land Grant from the king was not a very effective way of convincing them to give up their land. They were going to have to fight for it.)
This particular grant is even larger than the Borden Grant of 600,000 acres. Everything looked rosy for the Loyal Land Company until 1763, when England tried to placate the Indians and made a treaty. West of the Alleghenies is to be Indian land; east is for the white settlers; thus, nullifying our 800,000-acre land grant.
As is our custom, we simply ignore the law.
The Indians are in an unenviable position due to war: They lose twice. During the French and Indian War, most tribes side with the French. During the Revolutionary War, most tribes side with the English. By choosing the wrong side twice the Indians forfeit many of their rights.
What is it like for our people making the rites of passage from Virginia to the Kentucky? The following story:
Robert Wallace and Brice Miller...From: A History of the Middle New River Settlement, by David E. Johnston, 1906, page 71.
On September 23, 1779, Mrs. Margaret Pauley and her husband, John Pauley, together with James Pauley, wife, child, and Robert Wallace and his wife and Brice Miller, set out from Greenbrier section to go to Kentucky. They crossed New River at the Horse Ford near the mouth of Rich Creek, and then down New River and up East River which was the shortest route to Cumberland Gap.
Each man had a rifle. The women were on horses along with any household goods they could carry. They were in front and the men were in the rear driving the cattle. About noon of the day referred to, the party reached a point on East River about one mile below the mouth of Five Mile Fork. This was supposed to have been near the upper end of the old farm of Captain William Smith. It was there that they were attacked by five Indians, who were accompanied by one white man by the name of Morgan. The first intimation that the party had of the impending trouble was the discharge of a gun.
Mrs. John Pauley and Mrs. James Pauley were knocked from their horses. Wallace and the two children were killed and scalped. John Pauley, although fatally wounded escaped and succeeded in reaching Wood's Fort on Rich Creek. He died shortly afterwards. The Indians took Mrs. John Pauley and Mrs. James Pauley prisoners when they left the scene of their atrocities; up East River to the mouth of Five Mile Fork and thence to the head and across the Bluestone into Ohio. There the two women (along with a baby boy born to Margaret Pauley shortly after this) remained prisoners for two years.
Finally, Mrs. James Pauley escaped, followed by Margaret and her small child. Mrs. James Pauley's maiden name was Handley. After Margaret (Mrs. John Pauley) returned, she married a Mr. Erskine. A daughter by this second marriage married Hugh Caperton.
Margaret Pauley (Paulee) died in 1842 at the advanced age of 90. Her name at death was then Mrs. Margaret Hanly Erskine. A few years before her death she told a more complete story to her grandson, Allen T. Caperton, who wrote it all down. The following are a few added points:
Her childhood years she spent mostly in forts. This shows you how constant were the Indian raids.
“Polly Paulee, my sister-in-law, who belonged to a couple of squaws, succeeded in making her escape about a year before I was redeemed. She had been permitted to go on a visit to Detroit for the purpose of trading and while there gave them the slip. She was protected by the Governor of Detroit at whose house she afterward married an officer named Myers. This office tried hard for my redemption. With this man she went to England and afterward returned to Georgetown where she was murdered by Indians.”
"Belonged to a couple of squaws," means that she was adopted into an Indian family, which was quite often the case with captives. "Redeemed," means that he was ransomed. "Allowed to go to Detroit," means that once adopted into an Indian tribe they expected her to remain in the Indian life. Sometimes this happened. It ends with her murder by the Indians, which all too often happened. Our people who were on the frontier had to face this constant fate. It, literally, "went with the territory."
“Little Jacky was redeemed...”
“I set out for my home in company with eight other ransomed captives...”
“My friend...commenced negioting for my ransom...by paying $200.”
Reading Margaret Paulee’s narratives is a grim and bloody story. Who are these people? I don’t know exactly, but Wallace, Brice, and Miller are all our family names.
“After the return of Margaret Pauley she married a Mr. Erskine, and by who she had a daughter who married Hugh Caperton, who became a distinguished man, and who was the father of the late United States Senator Allen T. Caperton, of Monroe County. Adam Caperton, the father of the said Hugh, was killed in a battle with the Indians at Little Mountain, or Estill’s Defeat...” (see chapter 23)
Our people's lives were inextricably intermixed.
At this point it is no longer a story of our people immigrating west to the Kentucky. It becomes the story of my John Wallace and his descendants. John Wallace is the only one of the six brothers now living.
Around the turn of the century, 1800, John Wallace forms a wagon train, goes through the Cumberland Gap, and enters into East Tennessee. (It is possible that the Bybee family is part of the wagon train.)
We start off with a deer trail, which becomes and Indian path, which becomes a trace for the white settlers. Once the trace is widened and developed by man, with the surface good enough to handle a team of animals pulling a Conestoga wagon, it was called a road.
The gateway to the Western American expansion now becomes the Cumberland Gap. There is another route farther to the North. However, the preferred route is the Cumberland Gap, as the more northern route has even more serious Indians problems. For generations, to get to the Gap from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and other states you had to travel through the Borden Land Grant. The grant provided and sustained life for these pioneers who were just traveling through. The Grant provided lodging, meals, blacksmith shops, rifle repairs, and everything necessary to complete their journey. The nation literally descends through Magdelene’s land and Magdelene’s people.
Courtesy of the Burndy Library
The Scotch-Irish once again begin their restless migrations westward.
You enter the Cumberland Gap through the Borden Tract. When you exit, if you turn right you are in Kentucky; turn left and you are in East Tennessee. John Wallace and his party turn left. 50,000 settlers, most from Virginia and the Carolinas, mostly Scotch-Irish, made their way into the Kentucky between 1775 and 1800.
The usual route: From the North-Eastern States to the Kentucky was to come down the Wilderness Road, which descended the Valley of Virginia, then through the Cumberland Gap. Daniel Boone opened a floodgate from the day he cut his trace through the Cumberland Gap. For the next half century 200,000 immigrants would pass this way into the Kentucky. Every one of them knew who prepared their way.
Footnote to history: Our people were not about to give up their claim of 800,000 acres, treaties and wars be damned! They had a contract. It would take nearly 100 years for the English courts to rule in our favor.
My family history web site has 79 chapters. If you would like to know more about the other chapters then go to my
Home Page www.thetracyfamilyhistory.net