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1758 Gist

Thomas Gist [ -1786] of Virginia was captured at Fort Duquesne in 1758. He was taken to Detroit where he was adopted by an Indian family and treated well. In September 1759 he and two other prisoners, John and Walter McCrary, walked out of the Indian camp and hiked straight East. They made it to Fort Niagara in three weeks. This is Gist's report to General Gage about his captivity.


I was taken prisone[r] the 14th of Sept 1758, within about four miles of Fort Duquesne by the Wyendot Indians at the defeat of Maj Grant.

The number of Frenchmen that can be raised at Fort Detroyt are about twelve hundred.

The nations of Indians living near Detroit, first the Wyendots, the [Ot]Tawwas, the Potowotomes, these three nations live within sight of the Fort. The [O]Jebwas live some distance up the river from Detroit which I do not know. The country is leavel and very wet, but chiefly sandy but good land, and well timbered bringeth good game.

Between Detroit and Niagara, the country is chiefly leavel and the most part of it is good land and well timbered, but some part of it is prodejius bad, and beach timber.

The people immagened that you would certainly come in the spring if you did not come this fall, and distroy that place. The [Ot]Tawwas heared that Sir William Johnson took one of their men prisone[r] and cut his right arm off and his nose, for which they burned one of the Highland soldiers and eat part of him. The 12th of Sept 1759 I set out from the Wyendot town with John McCrary & Wm: his brother, and arrived at Niagury 5th of Octo after being in the wood 24 day[s].

From: Peckham, Howard H. Thomas Gist's Indian Captivity, 1758-1759. Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 80 (July 1956): 310-311.

See Also:


kham, Howard H. Indian Captives brought to Detroit. Detroit Historical Society Bulletin 12 (June, 1956): 4-9.