Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier 1747-1762 by Robert W. Ramsey: Book Review

If you’ve been following some of my fairly recent posts, you know that I’ve jumped into my husband’s Scots-Irish branch of the family tree.

I’ve made excellent progress on the Thompson family, even though when I began, I wasn’t terribly hopeful about uncovering documentation for people born in the 1700s who lived in Pennsylvania and then the frontiers of North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Because I still don’t know many details about the Scots-Irish and their lives in colonial America, I began searching out online resources and books.

Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 by the late Dr. Robert W. Ramsey is the perfect book – now considered a classic – of the moment for me.

That’s because Dave’s Thompsons and allied Scots-Irish families – plus some of his German, Irish, Welsh and Quaker family all settled in North Carolina in its early years.


Introduction by William D. Kizziah
List of Illustrations


I.  The Setting
II.  General Causes of the Southward Migration
III.  The First Settlements, 1747-1751
IV.  Growth of the Western Settlement, 1750-1751
V.  March 25, 1752
VI.  In the Forks of the Yadkin, 1752-1762
VII.  The Germans of Present Rowan County
VIII.  The Western Settlements, 1752-1762
IX.  The Trading Camp Settlement, 1750-1762
X. Growth of the Irish Settlement, 1752-1762
XI. Quakers and Baptists on the Northwest Frontier
XII. The Scotch-Irish Migration
XIII. The German Migration
XIV. Establishment of Salisbury
XV. The Economic Order
XVI. Life of the People
XVII. French and Indian War
XVIII. Conclusions


A – Prominent Officials of Rowan County, 1753-1762
B – Partial List of Quakers Appearing in the Records of Monthly Meetings, 1675-1747″
C – Partial List of Quakers Arriving in Philadelphia
D – From Index to Philadelphia Wills
E – Occupations of Settlers on the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762
F – German Settlers on the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762
G – Settlers on the Northwest Carolina Frontier Whose Names Indicate French Origin
H – Origins of Non-German Settlers on the Northwest Carolina Frontier
I – Elders and Tax Assessors in Pennsylvania and Maryland, 1713-1753


Carolina Cradle is a book that should be on the home library reference shelf of any genealogist who has early North Carolina roots in the area around what became Rowan County.

The Introduction by William D. Kizziah mentions the importance of linking the early North Carolinians to their homes in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and even Europe to understand their lives on the North Carolina frontier.

One of my first favorite finds in this book came on page 29, which is a detailed map of all the townships of Lancaster and Chester Counties, Pennsylvania in 1740.

Yes, this book is about North Carolina settlement, but many of the first settlers – including my husband’s Thompsons, Finneys and Lawrences – migrated from Chester County and headed south.

Carolina Cradle is a scholarly work, packed with footnotes and an extensive bibliography in 250 pages. This definitely isn’t a kind of “they rode their horses across the raging river and the wagons followed. ” Nope!

This book is packed full of names, dates, places, families – both immediate and extended – supported by SOURCES!

The Appendices are just as informative as the chapters themselves: the  Bibliography provides an enticing list of supplemental reading materials.

I can’t say enough positive things about the work of Dr. Robert W. Ramsey. Unfortunately, he went to be with the ancestors many years ago (1997) or I would write to thank him for this terrific book.

Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 by Robert W. Ramsey, University of North Carolina Press, 1964 can be purchased online for $35.00 (new) or $13 (used).

It’s worth every penny! I wish I had discovered this book long ago.


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