In Search of the Turkey Foot Road, Fourth Edition
An early route known as the Turkey Foot Road is described in the traditions of several counties along the Mason-Dixon line. In Allegany County, Maryland, the traditions survive in the Mount Savage area, but the early route has long been a mystery. According to tradition, Arnold’s Settlement was established along the old Turkey Foot Road, which began as an Indian or packer’s path. A tradition that the road was preceded by an Indian or packer’s path also survives in and around the town of Salisbury, in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. From these traditions, the route is often called the Turkey Foot Path, or the Turkey Foot Trail. In Fayette County, Pennsylvania, several books briefly mention the road in the context of America’s early wars.
This book presents the most extensive research to date concerning the history and route of the legendary Turkey Foot Road. When our country was young, this early route crossed the mountain barrier between Fort Cumberland and the Turkeyfoot region, and continued on toward Pittsburgh. It was cut during the Revolutionary War as a military supply road to Fort Pitt. Several eighteenth century records suggest that the eastern part of the route was preceded by an earlier path, supporting the Mount Savage and Salisbury area traditions. As one of the earliest routes, it influenced settlement in parts of Allegheny County, Maryland and Somerset and Fayette counties, Pennsylvania. In its post-Revolutionary War heyday, the Turkey Foot Road was important enough to be depicted on state maps as a principal route.
This book documents the origins of the road, the influence of the antecedent path on the French and Indian War, the identifiable portions of the post-Revolutionary War route, and several alternate routes. GPS coordinates are provided, allowing the reader to study the route using satellite imagery websites. Early individuals, events, and landmarks along the route are presented, to provide context. The conventional wisdom concerning the origin of the road is also presented, and disproven.
The book is primarily intended to be read as a PDF-based e-book. The fourth edition, released in August, 2014, has 562 pages of text and over 1,000 hyperlinked images included on a DVD. The text portion of the book is optionally available in a print edition, however most of the figures can only be accessed via the DVD that accompanies the print edition. The fourth edition is the result of three years of additional research, and contains 70% more written material than the previous edition. Click here to order the book from the Mount Savage Historical Society.
This chapter introduces Wills Creek, Fort Cumberland, and Turkey Foot in historical and geographical context, and provides an overview of the history and route of the Turkey Foot Road. The route overview has been completely rewritten, and is a significant improvement over the description provided in the previous edition. At the request of our readers, this chapter now includes two maps that illustrate the entire route.
This chapter introduces surviving Turkey Foot Road traditions in the environs of Mount Savage Maryland, Salisbury, Pennsylvania, and Confluence, Pennsylvania. It also describes why the Turkey Foot Road received its name.
Fourth edition updates—Several additional traditions have been included in the fourth edition.
A 1751 journal entry by Christopher Gist identifies the location where the common trading path navigated the second mountain ridge west of present-day Cumberland. This journal entry provides concrete documentary evidence that what we now call the “Turkey Foot Trail” or the “Turkey Foot Path” was situated in the same water gap that was later exploited by the better known Turkey Foot Road, and was in use before the Ohio Company road.
The 1755 Fry and Jefferson map was printed during the French and Indian War. It shows a path that begins at Fort Cumberland, and extends deep into the Ohio Country. The tradition of a more northerly route is presented in some detail by summarizing the written statements of a Salisbury resident who was raised along the northerly route.
Fourth edition updates—The fourth edition corrects the date of the Fry and Jefferson map, and reviews other maps that show the Turkey Foot Path. . Additional information on the Old Fort Hill Road is provided. The site of Christopher Gist’s plantation is identified using early surveys. Additional information on the Catawba path is presented. For an important update on this chapter, see the Addendum to the fourth edition.
This chapter uses colonial records to examine the early trading routes from Wills Creek and Harris' Ferry that facilitated trade with the Miami Indians of Ohio. These trading routes preceded the more famous Ohio Company Road by several years, and are one of the factors that precipitated the first large scale attack of the French and Indian War.
Fourth edition updates—The fourth edition provides additional information on routes between Harris’s Ferry and Wills Creek, and shows that the Ohio Company was already promoting trade deep in the Ohio Valley in 1749. Details of a failed 1751 French expedition against Pickawillany are provided. The story of John and Jane Frazier is provided in considerable detail.
This chapter examines and disproves the common belief that the Ohio Company cut the Turkey Foot Road. In order to prove a negative, this chapter necessarily explores what the Ohio Company actually did do, where the Ohio Company’s road actually ran, and what is known of their road from its use for military purposes during the French and Indian war. Because of the need to explain what the Ohio Company actually did, the chapter provides an interesting account of events leading to active combat within Pennsylvania during the French and Indian War. This chapter relies heavily on Ohio Company records, military and colonial records, and contemporaneous articles.
Fourth edition updates—New documentary evidence about Nemacolin is presented, including proof that the Ohio Company road was contemporaneously known as Nemacolin’s road. A payment to Christopher Gist for cutting the Ohio Company road is identified. Information is presented showing that Pennsylvania Indians declared war on the French in response to the French attack on Pickawillany and incursions into Pennsylvania. Additional information about Washington’s attack on Jummonville is provided. Misinformation about the Ohio Company road is explored and refuted. The condition of the Ohio Company road north of the Meadows is revealed. More information about the fork in the road at the great rock is provided. A contemporaneous French account of expelling Trent’s forces is quoted.
This chapter briefly explains why the Turkey Foot Path was not used as a wagon road by the Ohio Company, George Washington, and General Edward Braddock. One answer is provided by George Washington, and another is provided by geography.
Fourth edition updates—The analysis presented in the chapter is updated based on newly encountered information.
This chapter examines the Peter Livingood traditions, using his business records to identify when he arrived in the area of present-day Salisbury, Pennsylvania. This examination bolsters the supposition that an antecedent to the Turkey Foot Road was being used in the time between the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.
Fourth edition updates—The presence of other early Salisbury area settlers is documented. The earliest known written version of the Livengood tradition is quoted. Early documents that suggest that the Turkey Foot Road followed the edge of Livengood’s property are presented. A 1937 printed version of the Livengood tradition is quoted. Pre-Revolutionary War maps that show fragments of the Turkey Foot Path are presented.
This chapter explains why the Turkey Foot Road appears as a principal route on maps that were made following the Revolutionary War. It draws upon colonial and Revolutionary War records to prove that the now legendary Turkey Foot Road was cut during the Revolutionary War as a military supply road. It was finished just in time to provide supplies that enabled a decisive campaign against the Seneca Indians. In the area west of the location of present-day Salisbury, Pennsylvania, this route was more direct than the route shown on the Fry and Jefferson map, passing south of Mount Davis and remaining on the east side of the Youghiogheny River. The route of the road was determined by the availability of forage for packhorses.
Fourth edition updates—This chapter is a major rewrite, including a significant amount of documentary evidence that proves who cut the Turkey Foot Road, why it was cut, why it went through present-day Somerset County, the significant role the road played in supporting Brodhead’s campaign, and the impact of the campaign. As such, the chapter is an exciting new addition to the history of Fort Pitt. The chapter also provides biographies of the men who oversaw the cutting of the Turkey Foot Road.
This chapter briefly describes why the material about the Turkey Foot Road in previous chapters is mutually supportive, rather than mutually exclusive.
Before the Turkey Foot Road appears on post-Revolutionary War maps, it appears in correspondence to and from George Washington. These letters provide the earliest usage of the name of the road, and prove that it was then considered a new road.
Fourth edition updates—This chapter has been updated to include information describing the 1784 condition of Braddock’s road. It also explains the significance of Washington’s 1785 letter to Richard Henry Lee,
This chapter describes a few early Maryland maps and legislative records that concern the portion of the Turkey Foot Road between the locations of present-day Cumberland and Corriganville, Maryland. One is a 1762 deed that describes the then-existing path along the west side of Wills Creek as an old Indian war road. A 1745 survey documents an Indian village at the site of present-day Corriganville.
Fourth edition updates—The fourth edition clarifies the meaning of the old Indian war road that is described in the 1762 deed, and documents an Indian village at Corriganville. Other contemporaneous references to the Indian war road are also included. A 1766 building at Corriganville is documented. Information on the Tomlinson family is expanded.
The detail provided in Doctor Wellford’s 1794 travel journal helps to identify the then-existing route of the Turkey Foot Road through Westmoreland, Fayette, and Bedford (now Somerset) counties, Pennsylvania, and Allegany County, Maryland. The journal provides information on several families along the road, and proves that the depiction of the route near Salisbury, Pennsylvania on a famous 1792 map is in error. The study of Doctor Wellford‘s journal was a journey of discovery for the authors, because they had little understanding of the Turkey Foot Road when the journal was first encountered.
Fourth edition updates—The fourth edition provides an increased understanding of the phrase “Forks of the Yough”. The location of the residences of Strickland and Mariaty are identified, and information on other families along the route is expanded.
Beginning with this chapter, the focus of the book turns from the study of history to the study of the various alignments of the Turkey Foot Road. The route study is supported by maps, early property and road surveys, tradition, legislative acts, aerial photographs, and examination of physical scars on the ground. The reasons for the various alignments are also considered. This chapter begins the route study by describing and illustrating the route of the Turkey Foot Road between Salisbury, Pennsylvania and the crest of the Allegheny Mountain.
Fourth edition updates—Additional information on handling wagons on mountain roads is provided.
This chapter details and illustrates the route of the Turkey Foot Road between the crest of the Allegheny Mountain and the Maryland State line, and reveals one of the alternate names given to a portion of the road. Of particular interest are property surveys and aerial photographs showing that in the area north of the state line, most of the Turkey Foot Road was located west of the present-day Greenville Road. A survey is presented that proves that the Greenville Road was also in use in the 1700s.
Fourth edition updates—The delineation of this portion of the route is significantly improved, and additional information is provided about early settlers along the route. Route variations are also described. The connecting 1785 road to Borndragers mill is described, as are Indian villages at Meyersdale. The 1794 existence of the Greenville Road through Pocahontas is documented.
This chapter describes and illustrates the route of the Turkey Foot Road between the Maryland state line and the historic Arnold’s Settlement area of Allegany County, Maryland. At least part of the road was used as a stagecoach route, and the site of a 19th century stagecoach stop is identified. Although abandoned long ago, this route survives, under a different name, in the memory of living men. The route is easily identifiable on nineteenth century maps, depression era aerial photographs, and modern day satellite photographs. A plurality of roadbeds establishes heavy use. GPS coordinates are provided for much of the most readily identifiable portions of the route.
Fourth edition updates—Additional information of the condition of the National Road in the first half of the 1800s is presented.
This chapter uses an 1804 road survey to prove a significant part of an alteration of the Turkey Foot Road that ran from the Pennsylvania state line to Archibald Arnold’s residence. Knowing where the road entered Pennsylvania was a key to determining the route across Savage Mountain. Another 1804 road survey proves the route in the vicinity of Barrelville, Maryland. The survey was preceded by a petition to the 1801 Maryland Legislature. Some of the route survives as modern roads.
Fourth edition updates—Two early surveys at the state line are studied. Additional information is presented relating to the Indian occupation of the Arnold’s settlement area. The probable date of the arrival of the Arnold’s family is presented.
This chapter explores the route of the Turkey Foot Road in the vicinity of Corriganville Maryland. The western end of this portion of the route is anchored by the 1804 survey in the area where Barrelville, Maryland is now located. The eastern end is anchored by interpretation of a 1797 Maryland legislative act. The route is shown, albeit somewhat schematically, on post-Revolutionary War maps. This chapter also identifies the locations of Indian Will’s cove and the sadly long gone Devil’s Backbone rock formation.
Fourth edition updates—More complete quotes from early road-related laws are provided. New information on the road north from Corriganville is presented.
This chapter details the part of the Hays Mill Path that ran through what is now Southampton Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The Turkey Foot Road followed part of the Maryland portion of the Hays Mill Path from Cumberland, Maryland to present-day Corriganville, Maryland. This route supported settlement of the Brothersvalley and Cox’s Creek Glades settlements. The foundation for this chapter is the Southampton Township research that the authors performed before writing the Turkey Foot Road book.
Fourth edition updates—Newly identified family traditions are presented. A new clue regarding the route of the 1832 turnpike is presented. The probable site of Witt’s 1841 sawmill is described. Additional information is provided on the northern portion of the subsequent road. Additional information on the Grandview drive route is presented. A log tavern and a wagon maker’s shop near the state line are described.
This chapter provides information on the early Catholic Church that was located along the Turkey Foot Road near Archibald Arnold’s residence. The first priest lived his life in the saddle, and is remembered for securing the property for the University of Notre Dame, where he is buried. An early church-related book establishes the probable settlement date for the Arnold’s Settlement area.
Fourth edition updates—Updated information on the Weimer family is included.
This chapter develops the subject of early property ownership in the region between Barrelville and Mount Savage, Maryland, in order to prove that the then-existing route of the Turkey Foot Road came down out of the Arnold’s Settlement area near the location of present-day Barrelville. This and the next chapter provide important insights regarding the initial Mount Savage area settlement, which is known as Arnold’s Settlement.
Fourth edition updates—A biography and likeness of John S. Combs are provided.
This chapter uses an early road survey to identify the pre-1827 route of the Turkey Foot Road between Archibald Arnold’s residence and the location that is now the town of Barrelville, Maryland. Part of the route is still in use today. This chapter reveals that some parts of the Turkey Foot Road are hidden in plain sight, and provides an interesting review of various topics within the area of Arnold’s Settlement. It documents a portion of the Turkey Foot Road that the book refers to as the Mule Field route. This section of the route was once used as a stagecoach road, and included a horse changing station. In the Arnold’s Settlement area, the route passed at least two early inns. This route probably remained in use by stagecoaches until 1871, when rail service finally came to Somerset County.
Fourth edition updates—A hotel along the route is identified. An Indian ancestor tradition related to the Workman family is presented.
This chapter describes a plausible theory concerning the route of the Turkey Foot Road through Arnold’s Settlement before the 1804 alteration was made. The theory is supported by local tradition that indicates that a route along the Bear Camp tract was the Turkey Foot Road, and was also a stagecoach route. The presence of a heavily used primitive road is indisputable. Parts of the route are identifiable by landscape scars and aerial photography. A now-invisible portion of the route has been identified by recovery of a significant number of horseshoes. One of the early settlers in Arnold’s Settlement lived in the area this route passed through.
Fourth edition updates—Information about an unusual log and stone house along Bear Camp Lane is provided.
This chapter explores the alignment that was known as the Turkey Foot Road in the late nineteenth century. This route is supported by Jack Pyle’s statements regarding his father’s childhood recollections. The route is also supported by nineteenth century maps, and a road that already existed by 1842 and was open until quite recently. The probable reasons for such a dramatic route change are presented.
Fourth edition updates—Information documenting the assignment of road supervisors in 1864 is included.
Two generations of a toll road included nineteenth century alignments of the Turkey Foot Road. The first generation was known as the Somerset and Cumberland Turnpike, and the second generation was known as the Wellersburg and West Newton Plank Road. These roads were important to the areas they passed through, and facilitated industrial and mining development in the areas of present-day Mount Savage and Barrelville. For example, the Somerset and Cumberland Turnpike was used to deliver coal to Harper’s Ferry, Virginia via Cumberland, Maryland.
Fourth edition updates—New information on the legislative history of the route is included. A toll gate at Corriganville is identified. A stagecoach stop at Wittenberg is identified. The history of Barrelville is documented.
This chapter uses photographs and maps to show the terrain and nature of the Turkey Foot Road between Cumberland and Mount Savage, Maryland, with a special emphasis on the Jennings Run water gap. A part of this road was improved as a result of the 1904 State Aid Road Law. This chapter also covers the Old Toll Gate store in Barrelville.
Fourth edition updates—A significant amount of new information on road improvements is provided. Evidence of the use of rock blasting in 1750s North America is presented. A 1916 description of the route is included. A governmental reference to Bell’s rock is included.
The Narrows is the name of an important water gap that is located just northwest of Cumberland, Maryland. Although the exact route of the Turkey Foot Road through the Narrows is lost to time and construction, this chapter shows the difficulty of the terrain, and describes the route that travelers would have followed into Cumberland after the National Road was rerouted through the Narrows. Essentially, the National Road along Wills Creek served as a realignment of the Turkey Foot Road.
Fourth edition updates—Documentary evidence of Spendelow’s road is included. The brick viaduct at the mouth of Braddock Run is described.
This chapter reviews a number of nineteenth century maps that show the areas traversed by the Turkey Foot Road. Several of these maps are little known, and cover the region of Mount Savage and Barrelville, Maryland.
Fourth edition updates—A session law regarding the Mount Savage to Barrelville turnpike is quoted. Hazzard’s 1856 map is now included.
This chapter describes the route of the Turkey Foot Road through the location of present-day Salisbury, Pennsylvania. The history of early bridges is covered, and aerial photos are used to document the Cassselman River fording site.
Fourth edition updates—Descriptions of Salisbury and West Salisbury are included. Additional information on the long field is provided. A photo of the 1809 cornerstone of the log church is included.
This chapter describes the route of the Turkey Foot Road from the Cassselman River fording site westward to Negro Mountain. The chapter identifies sections of modern roads that serve as the modern day alignments of the 1700s route.
Fourth edition updates—The first wife of Captain Tissue is identified. The Beachy cemetery is located. Information on the Savage Post Office is provided. Various additional surveys along the route are examined. Descriptions of the Hochstetler massacre are provided from contemporaneous documents.
This chapter uses early maps and surveys to pinpoint the route between Negro Mountain and Harnedsville, Pennsylvania. It proves that certain present-day back roads follow the route of the eighteenth century Turkey Foot Road.
Fourth edition updates—The Peck School and the Maple Glen Brethren church and cemetery are described. Green road is documented. The story of Alexander Hanna is included. The Indian village at Harnedsville is described. More information on the Friend Indian alarm story is included.
This chapter describes routes that are known by tradition as southern forks of the Turkey Foot Road. The existence of these traditional routes is confirmed by an early property survey, surviving landscape scars, an early map, and depression era aerial photography. The property survey suggests that at least part of the route was federally funded before the National Road.
Fourth edition updates—The vast majority of this chapter is new material.
This chapter documents the route of the Turkey Foot Road between Harnedsville and the Fayette County line. Some of the landmarks along the way are the Crossroads Cemetery, Hog Back Ridge, Ursina, Jersey Hollow, and the Jersey Baptist Church.
Fourth edition updates—The fording sites at Connellsville are described in more detail. The Constantine Leonard pioneer story is included. Additional early surveys are reviewed. Information on the Cross Roads Church and cemetery is provided. An accident between a buggy and a train is detailed. An 1871 description of Ursina and Confluence is included, along with more of the 1884 and 1906 descriptions. Ursina traditions relating to the Turkey Foot Road are explored. Groff Road is proven to be a surviving portion of the Turkey Foot Road. Early Tannehill family traditions are explored. Robert Skinner’s property is proven to lie along the road.
This chapter uses a combination of property surveys and traditions to document the route of the Turkey Foot Road across Fayette County, Pennsylvania. For example, the tradition of the earliest cabin in the Indian Creek settlement, combined with another nearby tradition, locates the route in an area where surveys fail to document the route, and explains why a present-day farmstead is situated so far from the modern road. Other traditions locate the route through three small villages. Several back roads are positively identified as surviving sections of the eighteenth century Turkey Foot Road, and the location of a nineteenth century stagecoach stop is presented.
Fourth edition updates—Most of the material in this expansive chapter is new to the fourth edition.
This chapter describes other routes passing through the Confluence area that were also known as the Turkey Foot Road. These routes provided early connections between towns in Somerset and Fayette Counties.
Fourth edition updates—A significant portion of this chapter is new to the fourth edition. Highlights include photographs of Sloan’s ford, identification of landmarks in Fayette County, analysis of early maps and property surveys, early descriptions of Uniontown and Bedford, and identification of where the route from Turkeyfoot on the 1792 Howell map terminated east of Somerset.
This chapter revisits the subject of a French and Indian War map that depicts routes going to “Three forks of Yohiogain” and “Great Crossings”. The map is discussed in the context of other contemporaneous maps and events.
Fourth edition updates—The decision to suspend a first edition conclusion is vindicated by additional study using contemporaneous documents. The route on the French and Indian War map is identified.
The 1755 Evans map shows a curiously roundabout route that passed through the Berlin, Pennsylvania region and connected with Fort Cumberland, Maryland and Raystown (Bedford), Pennsylvania. A portion of this path was an antecedent to part of the Turkey Foot Road, and a portion was Burd’s French and Indian War road.
Fourth edition updates—Most of the material in this chapter is new to the fourth edition. Documentary evidence is presented that strongly suggests that Burd completed a previously unknown road from the Berlin area to the Turkey Foot Path. Fragments of a candidate route are identified using property surveys. The route of Burd’s road through Bedford County is shown to differ significantly from Route 31. The early history of Raystown and Fort Bedford is studied using contemporaneous documents. An early packers’ path over Wills Mountain is documented.
This chapter describes the history and route of the old Glade Road, which served travelers heading westward from Bedford.
Fourth edition updates—The fourth edition provides new information from the journals of individuals using the Glade Road, and landmarks along the route. A 1780 document reveals that the road was used for military transportation during the Revolutionary War. The probable identity of the first person to bring a wagon to Somerset is revealed. Bonnet’s tavern and the White Horse tavern are studied. Several early descriptions of the town of Somerset have been added. Early state-funded improvements to the Glade Road are described.
This chapter describes the early significance of Connellsville and West Newton. In doing so, it untangles one of the mangled Turkey Foot Road accounts in Ellis’s 1882 book “History of Fayette County Pennsylvania…”
Fourth edition updates—The untangling of Ellis’s 1882 statement is new to the fourth edition, as is an 1818 description of Connellsville.
This chapter describes when Fort Cumberland was built, and provides details of its construction, size, armament, and initial name. The objective of the chapter is to address several undocumented, conflicting statements that have been published over the years. Some sources say that the original fort was simply renamed, while others say that Fort Cumberland was a second, larger fort. Another source indicates that the fort was an improvement of an Ohio Company structure. While far from comprehensive, this chapter provides some thoughts on the subject that are based on documentary evidence.
Fourth edition updates—1754, 1755 and 1757 descriptions of fort construction activities have been added, and a contemporaneous plan of the fort is analyzed. A 1750s magazine explosion is described,. 1756 and 1766 descriptions of the fort have been added. An 1816 description of Cumberland, and the site of the Ohio Company blockhouse, are included, along with tunnel photos.
As a courtesy to the reader, this chapter reproduces material about the Confluence area from the 1906 book “The History of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania”. The material is based partly on documentary evidence, and partly on oral tradition, and covers the earliest known settlers in the Turkey Foot region. It describes the circumstances under which the area was first settled, and some of the hardships the settlers endured in the harsh and dangerous frontier.
Fourth edition updates—The footnotes are significantly expanded.
This chapter provides a summary of evidence throughout the book that supports the tradition that the eastern part of the Turkey Foot Road has Indian path antecedents. The evidence primarily takes the form of Indian villages from the 1700s that were located along the path. The portion of the route along Wills Creek is described as a warrior’s path in early documents.
Fourth edition updates—This chapter is new to the fourth edition.
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