The first wave of settlers came to Appalachia by way of the Valley of Virginia, having started in Pennsylvania. Around 1769 the "Wilderness Road" opened up migration through southwestern Virginia, Kentucky and northeastern Tennessee. They were made up of Germans, British, Scot-Irish and the French Huegonots.
Hammered Dulcimer like instruments have been found in Appalachia, Shenandoah Valley (Virginia) and northeast Tennessee along "The Wilderness Road." They were also found along the "Great Wagon Road" from western Maryland to North Carolina, but this was a relatively small number with the majority being found on the Wilderness Road. Early dulcimer- like instruments were also made in the Valley of Virginia.
People often confuse the hammered dulcimer with the three or four stringed "mountain" or "plucked" dulcimer, although the two have nothing in common, except their name.
The earliest reference to it in America is actually of one being played in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1717.
Hammered dulcimers are particularly interesting because, unlike the piano, dulcimers were often built at home, which was certainly the case in Co. Antrim.
This beautiful instrument is now enjoying a revival in America and for the first time in many years, new dulcimers are being built, and there is an increasing number of new players.
To learn more about the Hammered Dulcimers of North America & their players & makers, I would thoroughly recommend that you check out the wonderful