Transcribed by Timothy R. Meador, Jr.


February 28, 1957






3637 Stettinius Ave.,

Cincinnati 8, Ohio


Rev. Calvin Gregory

Macon County News

Lafayette, Tenn.


Dear Elder Gregory:

        Once more I am writing you relative to the GIST family.  I wrote you in January and again in March about this, but received no answer.  I know that you are a very busy person, but it would certainly be a great favor to all the GIST descendants if you could find time to give us any information which you may have at hand on this family.


        As I told you, the woman who is compiling the data for a published genealogical work is in the last stages of preparing her material for the printer and we would so much like to hear from you before the work is in the hands of the publisher.


        Since I wrote you on March 19th we have found the maiden name of Benjamin Gist, Jr.’s wife and have authenticated it through the will of her father, Levi Hinds, of Wayne County, Ky.


        However, we have no been able to find out the maiden name of his second wife Rebecca.


        Several times you have mentioned Grime’s History of the Baptists in data on other families.  If you have this volume, would you be kind enough to consult it for any information about Benjamin Gist, Sr., and/or Benjamin Gist, Jr.  From Benedict’s History of the Baptists, Pascal’s History of North Carolina Baptists, and Townsend’s South Carolina Baptists we have been able to ascertain that Benjamin Gist, Sr., with his family was among those who went from North Carolina to South Carolina with Rev. Philip Mulkey to organize a Baptist church on Broad River.  They also established a church on the Fariforest and Tyger Rivers, and from here they migrated to Tennessee, establishing Baptist churches as they move from place to place. He was active in the Holston Association also; formed a church in Barren County, Ky., known as the Mill Creek Baptist church about 1797-1798.  However the Gist names go off the records of Mill Creek church about 1831 and we are anxious to know whether they joined other churches, died, or what became of them.


        If you do not have the time to pursue this research, is there anyone you know who is capable of doing so, who would be willing to do it under your instruction for a reasonable fee?


        Please, may I hear from you soon relative to ANY information you have available about Benjamin Gist.

                       Very sincerely your,

                       Norma C. Hodson

                       (Mrs. Walter J. Hodson)



Gregory’s Reply


        The editor is sorry not to have done better relative to information about the Gist family. But the editor works an average of 100 hours per week and moreover, he is not growing any younger.  He is now in his 66th year and finds that he is not as “glib” as he once was, whatever that may mean.  We have Grime’s History of Middle Tennessee Baptists but find no information about the Gist family.  However, we have the census records for Smith County, Tenn., for 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, and 1870.  The following information is gleaned from the old census records:


        In the 1820 records, I find the name of Joseph Gust, listed as the head of a Smith County family having at that time four males under 10 and one male between 26 and 45, Joseph, we are sure.  In the same family there was on female, supposed his wife, between 26 and 45.  There is not one bit of indication as to where they lived, except in Smith County, Tenn.


        Nest is the family of Christopher Guest, with two males under 10, two between 10 and 16; and Christopher himself, listed as being between 26 and 45.  Nothing is shown except what we are giving.


        Ten years later the following member of the family is listed: Jarrot Guess, with two males, under five, one, from five to 10; and one from 30 to 40, presumable Jarrot himself.  Females: one under five; one, five to 10; and one from 20 to 30, presumably Mrs. Jarrot Guest, the only female in the family. No other Guest family was listed in Smith County in 1830. From his neighbors in 1830 Richard Chitwood, John Bean, Enoch Bean and Peter Bean, we would judge that he lived then in the vicinity of the present Red Boiling Springs.


        In the census of 1840 I find the following information; Thomas Geist or Gint: One male from 10 to 15, one from 30 to 40, presumed to have been Thomas.  Females:  two under five, two from 10 to 15, one from 30 to 40, presumed to have been Mrs. Geist; and one from 60 to 70, and two families, one Charles Austin and the other Obadiah Talley, lived either up the road or down the road from Thomas Geist, with the next neighbor listed as Alvin Gent or Geist.  In this family males were: One under five, and one from 20 to 30, supposedly Alvin; Females: one under five, two from five to 10, two from 10 to 15; and one from 20 to 30, probably Mrs. Alvin Geist or Gent.  These families lived in 1840, we would judge in the present Macon County, which was formed in 1843.  On page 42 the 1840 census is listed Nathan Guss, with one male between 40 and 50, presumably himself; one female under five and one female, 20 to 30, presumed to have been Mrs. Nathan Guss.  I am unable to decide from the neighbors just where Nathan lived.


        I am enclosing a sketch from Spencer’s History of Kentucky Baptists which is found on pages 377-387, Vol. I, as follows:


        MILL CREEK church is located on a small stream from which it derived its name, one and one-half miles south of Tompkinsville in Monroe County. It is, by several years, the oldest church on the southern border of Kentucky, east of Big Barren River.  The fist settlers of that region seem to have been North Carolinians, but emigrated directly from the Holston Valley in east Tennessee.  The church appears to have been gathered by John Mulky, sometime during the year 1798.  The earliest record now existing, states that on the 11th of September of that year, John Mulky and John Wood were chosen to the (Mero District) Association, on Cumberland River. In October the minutes of the association were read, and Philip Mulky was appointed a deacon.  In the following April, the church decided that it was wrong to hunt horses or cattle on Sunday.  John Mulky was granted a certificate that he might obtain license to celebrate the rites of marriage.  In 1800, Ben Gist was elected to an eldership.  The church calls help to install its minister, and in September, appoints John Mulky, Ben Gist, John Wood and Thomas Sullivan to an association on Little Barren.  At this time the church entered into the constitution of Green River Association.


        In 1802, Mill Creek church reported to Green River Association, forty-two baptisms, and a total membership of 120.  In 1805, it entered into the constitution of Stockton Valley Association.  For a number of years, this church was very large and prosperous.  But John Mulky led off a large faction of the body to the Arians, or Stoneites.  After a while another faction went off with the Campbellites, and finally, the remnant of the church split on the subject of missions.  Now (1885) the old church, which is the mother of many daughters, some of whom are illegitimate, is feeble and ready to die, scowling at missions, theological schools, benevolent societies, and “money-hunters.”


        Here we try to give a number of references to members of the Gist family as set forth in Ramsey’s Annals of Tennessee.  The first reference to a Gist that we have found in this history of the long ago is found on page 181 and the account is as follows:  Washington County, Feb. 23—Court Journal –At a court begun and held for the county of Washington, Feb. 23, 1778, Present, John Carter, Chairman, John Sevier, Jacob Womack, Robert Lucas, Andrew Greer, John Shelby, George Russell, William Been (Bean?), Zachariah Isbell, John McNabb, Thomas Houghton, William Clark, John McMahan, BENJAMIN GIST, John Chisholm, (now spelled by many Chism), Joseph Wilson, William Cobb, James Stuart, Michael Woods, Richard White, Benjamin Willson, James Robertson and Voluntine Sevier, Esqs.  On Tuesday, next day, John Sevier was chosen Clerk of the county; Valentine Sevier, Sheriff; James Stuart, Surveyor; John Carter, Entry-Taker; John McMahan, Register; Jacob Womack, Strayor Master; and John McNabb, Coroner.


        “William Cocke, by W. Avery, moved to be admitted Clerk of Washington County, which motion was rejected by the Court, knowing that John Sevier is entitled to the office.


         THE STATE vs ________________

                  In TORYISM.


        It is the opinion of the Court that the defendant be imprisoned during the present war with Great Brittain, and that the Sheriff take the whole of his estate into custody, which must be valued by a jury at the next court—one half of said estate to be kept by said Sheriff for the use for the State, and the other half to be remitted to the family of the defendant.”  Perhaps few of our readers ever heard of such a trial in the countys of Tennessee. Who the accused was we do not know, as only his initials, J. H., are given by which to identify the man accused of Toryism.


        On page 212, same book, is found the following: “At a meeting of sundry of the Militia Officers of Washington County, this 19th day of March, 1780: Present, John Sevier, Colonel; Jonathan Tipton, Major; Joseph Willson, John McNabb, Godfrey Isbell, William Trimble, James Stinson, Robert Sevier, Captains; and Landon Carter, Lieutenant, in the absence of Valentine Sevier, Captain.


        “In order to raise one hundred men, agreeable to command of the Hon. Brigadier Rutherford, to send to the aid of South Carolina.


        “It is the opinion of the officers, that each company in this county do furnish eight effective men, well equipped for war, except Samuel William’s company which is to furnish four men well equipt as aforesaid.”


                       John Sevier

                       Jno. McNabb

                       Joseph Wilson

                       Jonathan Tipton

                       William Trimble

                       Godfrey Isbell

                       James Stinson


        “On the same page is a list of captains. They are: Captain McNabb, Sevier, Hoskins, Been, Brown, Isbell, Trimble, Willson, GIST, Stinson, Davis, Patterson, Williams.”


        On page 262 same book, the following is found:


  Sevier’s Cherokee Expedition


        “While the volunteers were being enrolled and equipped in sufficient numbers for the magnitude of the campaign he contemplated, Sevier put himself at the head of about 100 men, principally of Captain Russell’s and Captain GUESS’S Companies, with shom he set out in advance of the other troups. The second night this party camped upon Long Creek. (This Long Creek was in East Tennessee and was not our Macon County Long Creek, about five miles northwest of Lafayette).  Captain GUESS was here sent forward with a small body of men to make discovery.  On ascending a slight hill, they found themselves within forty yards of a large Indian force, before they discovered it.  They fired from their horses and retreated to Sevier’s camp.  The Indians also fired but without effect.  Sevier prepared his command to receive a night attack.  Before dawn, Captain Pruett reinforced him after a rapid march, with about seventy men.  Thus reinforced, Sevier next morning pursued his march, expecting every minute to meet the enemy.  When they came to the point at which the spies had met and fired upon the Indians, they found traces of a large body of them.  They had, in their hasty retreat, left one warrior who had been killed the evening before by the spies. The pursuit was continued vigorously by the troops, who crossed French Board at the Big Island and encamped on Boyd’s Creek.  The next day, early in the morning, the advanced guard under the command of Captain Stinson, continued the march, and at the distance of three miles found the encampment of the enemy, and their fires still burning.  A reinforcement was immediately ordered to the front, and the guard was directed if it came up with the Indians, to fire upon them and retreat, and thus draw them on.  Three-quarters of a mile from their camp, the enemy fire upon the advance from an ambush.  It returned the fire and retreated, and, as had been anticipated, was pursued by the enemy till it joined the main body.  This was formed into three division: the center commanded by John Sevier, the right wing by Major Jesse Walton, the left by Major Jonathan Tipton.  Orders were given that as soon as the enemy should approach the front, the right wing should wheel to the left, and the left wing to the right, and thus enclose them.  In this order were the troops arranged when they met the Indians at the Cedar Spring, who rushed forward after the guard with great rapidity, till checked by the opposition of the main body.  Major Walton with the right wing wheeled briskly to the left, and performed the order which he was to execute, with precise accuracy.  But the left wing moved to the right with less celerity, and when the center fired upon the Indians, doing immense execution, the latter retreated to the unoccupied space between the extremities of the right and left wings, and running into a swamp, escaped the destruction which otherwise seemed ready to involve them.  The victory was decisive. The loss to the enemy amounted to 28 killed on the ground and very many wounded, who got off without being taken.  On the side of Sevier’s troops not a man was even wounded.  The victorious little army then returned to the Big Island—afterward called Sevier’s Island—and waited there the arrival of reinforcements that promised to follow.”

(To be continued)