The Early Settlers of Appalachia
Part I – Starting a New Life
The people who settled the Appalachians were generally of three ethnic origins: Scots-Irish, English, and German .Primarily farmers and skilled craftsmen, they were used to hard work and not intimidated by the intense labor that was mountain life.
Many Ulster-Scots left the British Isles and came to America in the early 18th century. They came to Maryland and Pennsylvania but found the lands along the Delaware and the Chesapeake taken by earlier settlers from England; therefore, they moved west following the Great Appalachian Valley, moving southward into the piedmont and mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
These early settlers were descendents of hardy Scots who had survived many years of struggle against invaders who, time after time, had pushed them back into the hill country of Scotland but had never conquered them. Over the centuries of struggles they became great warriors with more of a love of liberty than life. Forced to live in the mountainous lands of the Scotland, they were sustained only through hard work and frugal living.
Many English immigrants migrated from the Tidewater regions of Virginia and North Carolina and were the sons and grandsons of original settlers; or were late comers who found most of the best land taken and prices for existing homesteads ever increasing. Some were also of dissenting faiths, such as Baptists, Presbyterians, and Quakers, and were leaving eastern Virginia and North Carolina in order to escape discrimination, persecution, and taxes levied to support the Anglican Church.
As had the Scots, these English settlers brought with them an intense devotion to the legitimate principles of liberty, law, and justice. In their heritage was the story of a long struggle for individual rights against centuries of oppressors.
German families made homes throughout the Piedmont and Appalachians of Virginia and North Carolina also. They were a peace-loving and industrious people and became, by and large, recognized as the best farmers in America, and many of them were also skilled craftsmen.