Gist, Christopher

Gist, Christopher

(gĭst), c.1706–1759, American frontiersman, b. Maryland. Commissioned by the Ohio CompanyOhio Company,
organization formed (1747) to extend settlements of Virginia westward. The members were mostly Virginia planters interested in land speculation and the fur trade.
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 to explore their western lands. In 1750 he descended the Ohio River, explored E Kentucky, and crossed to Roanoke, N.C.; he thus penetrated the Kentucky region 18 years before the more celebrated Daniel Boone. The next season he more carefully traversed and mapped the Ohio watershed in western Virginia. He accompanied George Washington in 1753–54 on his historic trip to order the French out of the Ohio valley and on the journey twice saved Washington's life. On Gen. Edward Braddock's expedition (1755) against Fort Duquesne, Gist served as a guide. He died of smallpox in the Cherokee country, where he had gone to enlist the Native Americans' aid against the French. An expert woodsman and surveyor, he was highly regarded by his contemporaries.

Bibliography

See his journals ed. by W. M. Darlington (1893).

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Gist, Christopher

(?1706–59) frontier explorer, guide, Indian agent; born in Maryland. Nothing much is known for his first decades but by 1750 he had enough reputation to be hired by the Ohio Company to explore and map the Ohio River valley and northeastern Kentucky—the first Englishman to do so. In 1753 he established a settlement near (present-day) Brownsville, Pa. During the French and Indian War, he became a guide to Major George Washington and twice saved his life on the expedition to Fort LeBoeuf (1753–54); he was also with Washington at the surrender of Fort Necessity (1754) and in the disastrous campaign under Braddock (1755). In 1756 he appeared in Tennessee as an Indian agent, but he died within a few years.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.