The Scots-Irish were Scots who settled in Northern Ireland - Ulster - after 1600. Most of them were Presbyterian farmers who had lived under oppressive English rule. They started migrating to Virginia in 1715.
During the 1740 famine in Ulster, many Scots-Irish sailed to the port of Philadelphia, traveled down the Great Wagon Road, and settled in the mid-to-southern counties of the Shenandoah Valley - basically leap-frogging established German settlers in the northern counties.
The Scots-Irish soon became the dominant culture of the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Georgia, not only because of their numbers, but because of their independent spirits, adventurous personalities and restless nature. They became the frontiersmen and cowboys of the Big Valley and the Wild West! And later, many Scots-Irish worked in the coal mines and on the railroads, producing the energy and mode of transportation that made this nation great.
In the 1730s, Virginia's Governor William Gooch granted William Beverly more than 118,000 acres in Augusta and Rockingham Counties known as the Beverley Manor or Irish Track. Beverly sold this land to Scots-Irish immigrating from Pennsylvania for half a shilling per acre, primarily because the land would have reverted back to the English Crown if not cultivated within a certain period of time. Also, Gooch needed the Scots-Irish as a "valuable buffer between the Native American tribes and the English planters."
This open range land was home to large herds of bison as well as deer, elk, bear and wild turkeys, making it advantageous for many settlers to earn their living as pack men - hunting and then selling animal pelts to settlers - and becoming ranchers and farmers.
In 1745, Colonel James Patten from Donegal, Ireland, obtained 100,000 acres on the New, Holston and Clinch Rivers, further southwest into today's Blue Ridge Highlands and Heart of Appalachia regions. He sold parcels of land to other Scots-Irish settlers.
In 1769, Daniel Boone, a woodsman from Pennsylvania whose parents were actually English Quakers, traveled along wilderness trails and through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains into Kentucky with five other explorers.
Boone's explorations drew even more Scots-Irish to settle in the southern Appalachian valleys.
See Scots-Irish SitesThe Wilderness Road: Virginia's Heritage Migration Route
Last Updated: 04/28/2016
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