GIST, NATHANIEL. (1733–1796). Continental officer. Virginia. Often mistaken for his uncle Nathaniel, this Gist (pronounced "guest") was the son of the famous colonial scout Christopher Gist and first cousin of General Mordecai Gist. He took command of one of the sixteen Additional Continental Regiments on 11 January 1777. The younger Nathaniel Gist lived among the Cherokee as an Indian trader from the mid-1750s until 1775 and was a hunting companion of Daniel Boone. Many scholars maintain that he was the father of Sequoyah (born 1760 or 1761). Gist, who served as a captain of Virginia militia during the Seven Years' War, attempted to persuade the Cherokee to remain neutral during the Revolution, as he also had doubts as to which side to take. By 1776 he had definitely taken the Patriot side and was made a colonel in the Continental Army on 11 January 1777. Washington immediately pressed him into service to negotiate a peace with the Cherokee. By the end of the year, Gist was attempting to persuade Washington to make better use of the Patriots' Indian allies, without much success. Commanding Red Stone Fort in Pennsylvania in 1779, he was sent to reinforce Charleston, becoming a prisoner of war on 12 May 1780. He retired 1 January 1783. In 1793 he moved to his grant of seven thousand acres in Kentucky (awarded by Congress for his services during the Revolution) and died there on his Canewood plantation in 1796. His widow, Judith Cary Bell Gist, married General Charles Scott, who served as governor of Kentucky from 1808 to 1819.
Williams, Samuel C. "Nathaniel Gist, Father of Sequoyah." East Tennessee Historical Society Publication no. 5 (1933): 39-54.
revised by Michael Bellesiles