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Christopher Gist was born about 1706, in Maryland. Little is known of his early years except that he probably received formal training as a surveyor from his father, Richard Gist, who had helped plat Baltimore, Maryland.
By 1750, Gist had moved to northern North Carolina, along the Yadkin River. In that same year the Ohio Company of Virginia hired him to survey along the Ohio River from its headwaters near Shannopin's Town, Pennsylvania (now Pittsburgh), to what is now Louisville, Kentucky. Along the way he held conferences with the chief of the Miami Indians, with whom he formed an alliance on behalf of the British. He returned to the Ohio Country during the winter of 1751-1752 and explored much of present-day West Virginia.
In the winter of 1753-1754, Gist accompanied George Washington on a mission to try and convince the French to evacuate their forts along the Ohio River. The mission failed, so during the summer of 1754 Washington, Gist, and a detachment of Virginia militia attempted to drive the French from the region. This, too, failed. In 1755, Gist was present when the French and their native allies defeated General Braddock's combined force of British soldiers and Virginia militiamen, a battle in which Washington also participated.
In 1756 Gist traveled among the Cherokee in eastern Tennessee, reportedly to seek allies for the English and their colonists. Little information about this and subsequent trips survives. He died in 1759, possibly of smallpox, in either South Carolina or Georgia.
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This page was last updated on July 07, 2018.