The Ohio Company

Christopher Gist
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First Journal, October, 31, 1750 to May 19, 1751.




You are to go out as soon as possible to the Westward of the great Mountains, and carry with you such a Number of Men, as You think necessary in Order to search out and discover the Lands upon the River Ohio, & other adjoining Branches of the Mississippi down as low as the great Falls thereof: You are particularly to observe the Ways & Passes thro all the ‘Mountains you cross, & take an exact Account of the Soil, Quality, & Product of the Land, and the Wideness and Deepness of the Rivers, & the several Falls belonging to them, together with the Courses & Bearings of the Rivers & Mountains as near as you conveniently can: You are, also to observe what Nations of Indians inhabit there, their Strength & Numbers, who they trade with, & in what Comodities they deal.

When you find a large Quantity of good, level Land, such as you think will suit the Company, You are to measure the Breadth of it, in three or four different Places, & take the Courses of the River and Mountains on which it binds in Order to judge the Quantity: You are to fix the Beginning & Bounds in such a Manner that they may be easily found again by your Description, the nearer in the Land lies, the [32] better, provided it be good & level, but we had rather go quite down the Mississippi than take mean broken Land. After finding a large Body of good level Land, you are not to stop, but proceed farther, as low as the Falls of the Ohio, that We may be informed of that Navigation ; And You are to take an exact Account of all the large Bodies of good level Land, in the same Manner as above directed, that the Company may the better judge where it will be most convenient for them to take their Land.

You are to note all the Bodies of good Land as you go along, tho there is not a sufficient Quantity for the Company's Grant, but You need not be so particular in the Mensuration of that, as in the larger Bodies of Land.

You are to draw as good a Plan as you can of the Country You pass thro: You are to take an exact and particular Journal of all your Proceedings, and make a true Report thereof to the Ohio Company.

1750.—In Complyance with my Instructions from the Committee of the OHIO COMPANY bearing Date the 11th Day of September 1750.

Wednesday Octr 31.—Set out from Col. Thomas Cresap's at the old Town on Potomack River in Maryland, and went along an old Indian Path N 30 E about 11 Miles. Thursday Nov 1.—Then N 1 Mile N 30 E 3 M here I was taken sick and stayed all Night. Friday 2.—N 30 E 6 M, here I was so, bad that I was not able to proceed any farther that Night, but grew better in the Morning.


October 31, 1750. Colonel Cresap was an Agent and member of the Ohio company, see Biographical Sketch in the Appendix. "Old Town." So called for a town or village of the Shawanese Indians, who abandoned the upper Potomac region in the years 1727-9 and removed to the Ohio and Allegheny rivers. It is in Old Town, District of Allegheny county, Maryland, fifteen miles southeast of Cumberland, on the north side of the Potomac, and opposite to Green Spring Station, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railway.

November 3.Gist's route from Old Town lay by the Warrior's Path, along the base of the Great Warrior Mountain, on the eastern side, passing through the present district of Flintstone, Allegheny county, Maryland, and the townships of Southhampton, Monroe and Providence, in Bedford county, Pennsylvania, reaching the Juniata at the Warrior's Gap, near the village of Bloody Run, eight miles east of the present town of Bedford, there he entered the old Indian path leading westward. From the Juniata, where Bedford now stands, two paths led to the Ohio (Allegheny), the upper directly north to Frankstown, thence northwest to Venango (now Franklin), the lower path led west to Shannopin's Town (now Pittsburgh), the latter was the route taken by Gist. (Hutchins' Map, 1778; Scull's ditto, 1770. "Traders' Table of Distances to the Ohio;" "Colonial Records of Pennsylvania," Vol. V, p. 750. "Account of the Road to Logstown," by John Harries, in 1754, "Pennsylvania Archives," Vol. II, p. 135.

Saturday 3.—N 8 M to Juniatta, a large Branch of Susquehannah, where I stayed all Night. Sunday 4.—Crossed Juniatta and went up it S 55 W about 16 M. Monday 5.—Continued the same Course S 55 W 6 M to the Top of a large Mountain Called the Allegany Mountain, here our Path turned, & we went N 45 W 6 M here we encamped.

Tuesday 6 Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8.—Had Snow and such bad Weather that We could not travel for three Days; but I killed a young Bear so that we had Provision enough.

Friday 9.—Set out N 70 W about 8 M here I crossed a Creek of Susquehannah and it raining hard, I went into an old Indian Cabbin where I stay'd all Night.

Sunday 11.—Set out late in the Morning N 70 W 6 M crossing two Forks of a Creek of Susquehannah, here the Way being bad, We encamped and I killed a Turkey.

Monday 12.—Set out N 45 W 8 M crossed a great Laurel Mountain.Tuesday 13.—Rain and Snow.

Wednesday 14.—Set out N 45 W 6 M to Loylhannan an old Indian Town on a Creek of Ohio called Kiscominatis, then N 1 M NW 1 M to an Indian's Camp on the said Creek.

Saturday 17.—The same Course (S 70 W) 15 M to an old Indian's Camp.

Sunday 18.—I was very sick, and sweated myself according to the Indian Custom in a Sweat-House, which gave Me Ease, and my Fever abated.

Monday 19.—Set out early in the Morning the same Course (S 70 W) travelled very hard about 2o M to a small Indian Town of the Delawares called Shannopin on the SE Side of the River Ohio, where We rested and got Corn for our Horses. Tuesday 20 Wednesday 21 Thursday 22 and Friday 23.—I was unwell and stayed in this Town to recover myself; While I was here I took an Opportunity to set my Compass privately, & took the Distance across the River, for I understood it was dangerous to let a Compass be seen among these Indians: The River Ohio is 76 Poles wide at Shannopin Town: There are about twenty Families in this Town: The Land in general from Potomack to this Place is mean stony and broken, here and there good Spots upon the Creeks and Branches but no Body of it.

Saturday 24.—Set out from Shannopin's Town, and swam our Horses across the River Ohio, & went down the River S 75 W 4 M, N 75 W 7 1M W 2 M, all the Land from Shannopin's Town is good along the River, but the Bottoms not broad; At a Distance from the River good Land for Farming, covered with small white and red Oaks and tolerable level; fine Runs for Mills &c .

Sunday Nov 5.—Down the River W 3 M, NW 5 M to Loggs Town; the Lands these last 8 M very rich the Bottoms above a Mile wide, but on the SE side, scarce a Mile wide, the Hills high and steep. In the Loggs Town, I found scarce any Body but a Parcel of reprobate Indian Traders, the Chiefs of the Indians being out a hunting: here I was informed that George Croghan & Andrew Montour who were sent upon an Embassy from Pensylvania to the Indians, were passed about a Week before me. The People in this Town, began to enquire my Business, and because I did not readily inform them, they began to suspect me, and said, I was come to settle the Indian's Lands and they knew I should never go Home again safe; I found this Discourse was like to be of ill Consequence to me, so I pretended to speak very slightingly of what they had said to me, and enquired for Croghan (who is a meer Idol among his Countrymen the Irish Traders) and Andrew Montour the Interpreter for Pensylvania, and told them I had a Message to deliver the Indians from the King, by Order of the President of Virginia, & for that Reason wanted to see M Montour: This made them all pretty easy (being afraid to interrupt the King's Message) and obtained me Quiet and Respect among them, otherwise I doubt not they woud have contrived some Evil against me—I imediately wrote to M Croghan, by one of the Trader's People.

Monday 26.—Tho I was unwell, I prefered the Woods to such Company & set out from the Loggs Town down the River NW 6 M to great Beaver Creek where I met one Barny Curran a Trader for the Ohio Company, and We continued together as far as Muskingum. The Bottoms upon the River below the Logg's Town very rich but narrow, the high Land pretty good but not very rich, the Land upon Beaver Creek the same kind; From this Place We left the River Ohio to the SE & travelled across the country.

Beaver creek NW 6 M, W 4 M; up these two last Courses very good high Land, not very broken, fit for farming.

Wednesday 28.—Rained, We could not travel. Thursday 29.—W 6 M thro good Land,, the same Course continued 6 M farther thro very broken Land; here I found myself pretty well recovered, & being in Want of Provision, I went out and killed a Deer.

Friday 3o.—Set out S 45 W 12 M crossed the last Branch of Beaver Creek where one of Curran's Men & myself killed 12 Turkeys.

Friday Dec. 7.—Set out SW 8 M crossing the said Elk's Eye Creek to a Town of the Ottaways, a Nation of French Indians; an Old French Man (named Mark Coonce) who had married an Indian Woman of the six Nations lived here; the Indians were all out a hunting; the old Man was very civil to me, but after I was gone to my Camp, upon his understanding I came from Virginia, he called Me the Big Knife. There are not above six or eight Families belonging to this Town.

Saturday 8.—Stayed in the Town.

Sunday 9.—Set out down the said Elk's Eye Creek S 45 W 6 M to Margarets Creek a Branch of the said Elk's Eye Creek.

Monday Dec 10.—The same Course (S 45 W) 2 M to a large Creek.Tuesday 11.—The same Course 12 M killed 2 Deer. Wednesday 12.—The same Course 8 M encamped by the Side of Elk's Eye Creek. Thursday 13.—Rained all Day.

Friday 14.—Set out W 5 M to Muskingum a Town of the Wyendotts. The Land upon Elk's Eye Creek is in general very broken, the Bottoms narrow. The Wyendotts or little Mingoes are divided between the French and English, one-half of them adhere to the first, and the other half are firmly attached to the latter. The Town of Muskingum Consists of about one hundred Families. When We came within Sight of the Town, We perceived English Colours hoisted on the King's House, and at George Croghan's; upon enquiring the Reason I was informed that the French had lately taken several English Traders, and that Mr Croghan had ordered all the White Men to come into this Town, and had sent Expresses to the Traders of the lower Towns, and among the Pickweylinees; and the Indians had sent to their People to come to Council about it. Saturday 15 & Sunday 16.—Nothing remarkable happened.

Monday 17.—Came into Town two Traders belonging to M Croghan, and informed Us that two of his People were taken by 40 French Men, & twenty French Indians who had carried them with seven Horse Loads of Skins to a new Fort that the French were building on one of the Branches of Lake Erie.

Tuesday 18.—I acquainted Mr Croghan and Andrew Montour with my Business with the Indians, & talked much of a Regulation of Trade with which they were much pleased, and treated Me very kindly.

Tuesday 25.—This being Christmass Day, I intended to read Prayers, but after inviting some of the White Men, they informed each other of my Intentions, and being of several different Persuasions, and few of them inclined to hear any Good, they refused to come. But one Thomas Burney a Black Smith who is settled there went about and talked to them, & then several of them came; and Andrew Montour invited several of the well disposed Indians, who came freely; by this Time the Morning was spent, and I had given over all Thoughts of them, but seeing Them come, to oblige All, and offend None, I stood up and said, Gentlemen, I have no Design or Intention to give Offence to any particular Sectary or Religion, but as our King indulges Us all in a Liberty of Conscience and hinders none of You in the Exercise of your religious Worship, so it would be unjust in You, to endeavour to stop the Propagation of His; The Doctrine of Salvation Faith, and good Works, is what I only propose to treat of, as I find it extracted from the Homilies of the Church of England, which I then read them in the best Manner I could, and after I had done the Interpreter told the Indians what I had read, and that it was the true Faith which the great King and His Church recomended to his Children: the Indians seemed well pleased, and came up td Me and returned Me their Thanks; and then invited Me to live among Them, and gave Me a Name in their Language Annosanah: the Interpreter told Me this was a Name of a good Man that had formerly lived among them, and that their King said that must be always my Name, for which I returned them Thanks, but as to living among them I excused myself by saying I did not know whether the Governor would give Me Leave, and if he did the French woud come and carry me away as they had done the English Traders, to which they answered I might bring great Guns and make a Fort, that they had now left the French, and were very desirous of being instructed in the Principles of Christianity, that they liked Me very well and wanted Me to marry Them after the Christian Manner, and baptize their Children, and then they said they would never desire to return to the French, or suffer Them or their Priests to come near them more, for they loved the English, but had seen little Religion among Them: and some of their great Men came and wanted Me to baptize their Children; for as I had read to Them and appeared to talk about Religion they took Me to be a Minister of the Gospel; Upon which I desired Mr Montour (the Interpreter) to tell Them, that no Minister coud venture to baptize any Children, until those that were to be Sureties for Them, were well instructed in the Faith themselves; and that this was according to the great King's Religion, in which He desired his Children shoud be instructed & We dare not do it in any other Way, than was by Law established, but I hoped if I coud not be admitted to live among them, that the great King woud send Them proper Ministers to exercise that Office among them, at which they seemed well pleased; and one of Them went and brought Me his Book (which was a Kind contrived for Them by the French in which the Days of the Week were so marked that by moving a Pin every Morning they kept a pretty exact Account of the Time) to shew Me that He understood Me, and that He and his Family always observed the Sabbath Day.

Wednesday Decr 26.—This Day a Woman, who had been a long Time a Prisoner, and had deserted, & been retaken, and brought into the Town on Christmass Eve, was put to Death in the following manner: They carried her without the Town, & let her loose, and when she attempted to run away, the Persons appointed for that Purpose pursued her, & struck Her on the Ear, on the right Side of her Head, which beat her flat on her Face on the Ground; they then stuck her several Times, thro the Back with a Dart, to the Heart, scalped Her, & threw the Scalp in the Air, and another cut off her head: There the dismal Spectacle lay till the Evening, & then Barny Curran desired Leave to bury Her, which He, and his Men, and some of the Indians did just at Dark.

Teafe (an Indian Trader) came to Town from near Lake Erie, & informed Us that the Wyendott Indians had advised Him to keep clear of the Ottaways (these are a Nation of Indians firmly attached to the French, & inhabit near the Lakes) & told Him that the Branches of the Lakes are claimed by the French; but that all the Branches of Ohio belonged to Them, and their Brothers the English, and that the French had no Business there, & that it was expected that the other Part of the Wyendott Nation woud desert the French and come over to the English Interest, & join their Brethren on the Elk's Eye Creek, & build a strong Fort and Town there.

From Saturday 5 to Tuesday 8.—The Weather still continuing bad, I stayed in the Town to recruit my Horses, and tho Corn was very dear among the Indians, I was obliged to feed them well, or run the Risque of losing them as I had a great Way to travel.

Wednesday 9.—The Wind Southerly, and the Weather something warmer: this Day came into Town two Traders from among the Pickwaylinees (these are a Tribe of the Twigtwees) and brought News that another English Trader was taken prisoner by the French, and that three French Soldiers had deserted and come over to the English, and surrendered themselves to some of the Traders of the Pick Town, & that the Indians woud have put them to Death, to revenge their taking our Traders, but as the French Prisoners had surrendered themselves, the English woud not let the Indians hurt them, but had ordered them to be sent under the Care, of three of our Traders and delivered at this Town, to George Croghan.

Friday 11.—This Day came into Town an Indian from over the Lakes & confirmed the News we had heard.

Saturday 12.—We sent away our People towards the lower Town intending to follow them the next Morning, and this Evening We went into council in the Wyendott's King's House—The Council had been put off a long Time expecting some of their great Men in, but few of them came, & this Evening some of the King's Council being a little disordered with Liquor, no Business coud be done, but We were desired to come next Day.

Monday 14.—This Day George Croghan, by the Assistance of Andrew Montour, acquainted the King and Council of this Nation (by presenting them four Strings of Wampum) that the great King over the Water, their Roggony [Father) had sent under the Care of the Governor of Virginia, their Brother, a large Present of Goods which was now landed safe in Virginia, & the Governor had sent Me to invite Them to come and see Him, & partake of their Father's Charity to all his Children on the Branches of Ohio. In Answer to which one of the Chiefs stood up and said, "That their King and all of Them thanked their Brother the Governor of Virginia for his Care, and Me for bringing them the News, but they coud not give Me an Answer untill they had a full or general Council of the several Nations of Indians which coud not be till next Spring:" & so the King and Council shaking Hands with Us, We took our Leave.

Tuesday 15.—We left Muskingum, and went W 5 M, to the White Woman's Creek, on which is a small Town; this White Woman was taken away from New England, when she was not above ten Years old, by the French Indians; She is now upwards of fifty, and has an Indian Husband and several Children — Her name is Mary Harris, she still remembers they used to be very religious in New England, and wonders how the White Men can be so wicked as she has seen them in these Woods.

Wednesday 16.—Set out SW 25 M, to Licking Creek—The Land from Muskingum to this Place rich but broken—Upon the N Side of Licking Creek about 6 M from the Mouth, are several Salt Licks, or Ponds, formed by little Streams or Dreins of Water, clear but of a blueish Colour, & salt Taste the Traders and Indians boil their Meat in this Water, which (if proper Care be not taken) will sometimes make it too salt to eat.

Thursday 17—Set out W 5 M, SW 15 M, to a great Swamp. Friday 18.—Set out from the great Swamp SW 15 M.

Saturday 19.—W 15 M to Hockhockin a small Town with only four or five Delaware Families.

Sunday 20.—The Snow began to grow thin, and the Weather warmer; Set out from Hockhockin S 5 M, then W 5 M, then SW 5 M, to the Maguck a little Delaware Town of about ten Families by the N Side of a plain or clear Field about 5 M in Length NE & SW & 2 M broad, with a small Rising in the Middle, which gives a fine Prospect over the whole Plain, and a large Creek op the N Side of it called Sciodoe Creek. All the Way from Licking Creek to this Place is fine rich level Land, with large Meadows, fine Clover Bottoms & spacious Plains covered with wild Rye: the Wood chiefly large Walnuts and Hickories, here and there mixed with Poplars Cherry Trees and Sugar Trees.

From Monday 21 to Wednesday 23—Stayed in the Maguck Town. Thursday 24.—Set out from the Maguck Town S about 15 M, thro fine rich level Land to a small Town called Harrickintoms consisting of about five or six Delaware Families, on the SW Sciodoe Creek.

Friday 25.—The Creek being very high and full of Ice, We coud not ford it, and were obliged to go down it on the SE Side SE 4 M to the Salt Lick Creek—about 1M up this Creek on the S Side is a very large Salt Lick, the Streams which run into this Lick are very salt, & tho clear leave a blueish Sediment: The Indians and Traders make salt for their Horses of this Water, by boiling it; it has at first a blueish Colour, and somewhat bitter Taste, but upon being dissolved in fair Water and boiled a second Time, it becomes tolerable pure Salt.

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