Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Gone to Carolina"

It is probable that some families left Virginia due to increasing conflict between settlers and Indians. In 1755 attacks by the Shawnee along the frontier increased significantly. In October 1755 Colonel Adam Stephen, one of George Washington's officers, wrote from Winchester, Virginia that the Indians "... go about and Commit their Outrages at all hours of the Day and nothing is to be seen or heard of, but Desolation and murder heightened with all Barbarous Circumstances and unheard of Instances of Cruelty.... The Smoke of the Burning Plantations darken the day, and hide the neighboring mountains from our sight...".
These events were part of the struggle now known as the French and Indian War. During this struggle England and France strove for control of the lands west of the Alleghenies between New Orleans and Quebec. In order to forestall French intent, Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia sent a military expedition under General Edward Braddock to the Valley of the Ohio. Braddock and his men, however, were ambushed as they moved into the Ohio Valley; Braddock was killed, and only a few of his men (including George Washington) survived to make their way back to Virginia. This defeat left frontier settlements in the Shenandoah Valley virtually defenseless, and set off a panic among settlers. Many of the settlers fled to North Carolina at this time. County records of this period frequently identify settlers with the phrase "gone to Carolina."