Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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GIST, Christopher, scout. He was summoned from his home on the Yadkin in North Carolina by the Ohio company, an association of English merchants and Virginia planters, to whom had been given a royal grant to examine the western country "as far as the falls of the Ohio," to mark the passes in the mountains, trace the course of rivers, and observe the strength and numbers of the Indian nations. On 31 October, 1750, he left the shores of the Potomac. He crossed the Alleghanies and journeyed in February, 1751, to the Miami River, holding conferences with the various Indian tribes, but principally with the chief of the Miamis. During the latter meeting four ambassadors from the French were announced, but, after a deliberation, an alliance was formed with Gist, as the representative of the English. On 1 March, Gist continued his tour, descending the Miami to the Ohio ; thence ascending the valley of the Kentucky, he found a pass to the Bluestone, and returned by way of the Roanoke. In 1753 the Ohio company opened a road into the western valley, and Gist established a plantation near the Youghiogheny. In November of that year hostilities were threatened between the French and English; and George Washington, then just twenty-one, but thoroughly familiar with the wilderness, was selected as an envoy from Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, to make a winter journey to the streams of Lake Erie. With Christopher Gist as his guide he set out. In nine days they had reached the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, and on 23 November, 1753, swam their horses across the Allegheny, and wrapped themselves in their blankets for the night. Their journey ended at Waterford, near the shores of Lake Erie, where they were not courteously received. They hastened their return, and the day after Christmas were fired upon by an Indian in ambush. "I would have killed him," wrote Gist, "but Washington forbade." They took him prisoner instead. Dismissing their captive at dusk, they traveled all night and next day, resting at dark under a huge tree. The dispatches were delivered, and a fort was established at the junction of the rivers which Washington and Gist had crossed, where Pittsburg now stands. It was afterward, 17 April, seized by the French, and named Fort Duquesne. Washington hastened forward, Gist acting as his scout, and on 27 April the latter announced that the French were within five miles of the American camp. An engagement followed, and the French were beaten. Gist's sub- sequent history is unknown.
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