, c.1706-1759, American frontiersman, b. Maryland. Commissioned by the Ohio Company
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.
See his journals ed. by W. M. Darlington (1893).
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