Wright – The Quaker Trace

This is a road that still follows the route of the Quaker Trace.

This is a road that still follows the route of the Quaker Trace.

In the early 1800’s the Wrights and the Mills were moving into Randolph County, Indiana along with other Quaker families. They mainly came from the Carolinas. If not directly, than indirectly with a stop in Ohio or Tennessee for a few years. They did not believe in the institution of  slavery and were leaving to come to a state that had banned slavery. At that time, the area was pure forest with no roads of any kind. The early roads were nothing more than trails, traveled almost exclusively by men on foot or on horseback, and marked by blazes made upon the trees by scouting parties. Naturally these parties would follow the lines of least resistance, traveling the high ground, thus avoiding swamps and crossing the streams at the easiest fords. This often necessitated irregular paths to get to these fords. These trails led from one settlement to another or from some community to a mill or to a church.

Wayne County to the south of Randolph County was also being populated at that time by Quakers, Richmond in particular. Many of these Richmond Quakers were merchants who were interested in trade, especially with the Native Americans of Indiana and Ohio. At this same time in Fort Wayne, Indiana a great deal of trade was carried on with the Indians.  The trading post at Fort Wayne dealt in furs, whiskey, and other provisions and supplies. Recognizing that a potential market existed in Fort Wayne, the Richmond Quakers decided to build a road from Richmond to Fort Wayne.  (I use the term loosely because it was not paved, of course.) In 1817 construction began on the “Quaker Trace”, so called because it was cut mainly by Quakers.This was the first regular trail through the county and was a direct route from Richmond to Fort Wayne. This was the county’s first thoroughfare. At that time there was only one house between Spartanburg and Fort Wayne so you can see that this area was still very much a wilderness.

Even though it was only cut wide enough for one wagon to pass, the Quaker Trace was a vast improvement over the early trails and the Wrights and the Mills and their neighbors were able to get to and from Fort Wayne much more quickly to sell or trade whatever they might have to get things they could not get otherwise, e.g. tobacco, needles, iron, kettles, etc. It only took about 5 days instead of the 12 it had previously.

Later on, the Quaker Trace seems to have been a route on the Underground Railroad, thanks to those same Quakers.

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1 Response to Wright – The Quaker Trace

  1. I have many Quaker ancestors that travelled the trails from North Carolina. Some of them settled in Richmond while others moved a little further west into Illinois. Thanks for your article about the Quaker Trace.

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