The Carolina backcountry and rural coastal areas with no towns were considered the
frontier where small farmers, new immigrants, poorer people, less settled, newly freed
indentured servants and slaves migrated. The population was more of a mix of Indian
and European. Most Carolina colonists except wealthy planters had only one or two
servants or slaves.
Natives were using trading paths centuries before Englishmen came to Roanoke
Island and new colonists and fur traders used them for exploration and trading. For
example in 1712 Captain Frederick Jones secured a land grand from the Lords
Proprietors for 640 acres in Chowan Precinct next to an Indian trading path
(Isenberger 2013). John Lawson gives examples of fur traders trading wooden bowls
and ladles for furs and meeting up with trader pack trains on the old Indian trails with
4-5 men with up to 30 packed horses. (Voyage to Carolina. 6-64). Col. Byrd says in
the late 1600’s trader pack trains had up to 100 horses and mules (
Trade between Indians and white men developed with Bath County merchants as
middle men: factors in Britain shipped goods on credit to merchants who either sold
them direct to Indians or contracted with traders (executing a bond for trade goods)
who travel by land or waterway into the Indian nations. That merchandise was then
offered to the Indians in exchange for the animal skins from their next hunt. Virginia
and South Carolina traders were known to use the Occoneechi Trail to sell to
Piedmont Indians. North Carolina traders tended to sell to coastal Indians using
waterways with landings near post roads, trading paths, and the King’s Highway.
Correspondence from Christopher Gale to his father dated August 5, 1703, reveals
despite Gale’s law clerk training that he started out as a trader modestly: with a
shallop and 100 pound bond to secure trader goods. He told his father and brother that
profit from commerce with Indians could be substantial and encourages his brother to
voyage to Carolina:
“Sold on Reasonable Terms”
by Jack Lynch.
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