Was Guest Station Named For Christopher Gist?

     It has both been said and written that Guest Station, the earliest name for the town of Coeburn, was so named for Christopher Gist an early land surveyor for a British Land Company, because of his return from surveying in Kentucky he camped at the site for three days in 1751.
     Gist left a Journal of his trip, each day giving the compass directors and number of miles traveled. In this Journal, Gist, specially mentions on his return trip the "Chimneys" which are large rock formations slightly northwest of Bluefield in Mercer County, West Virginia. From here he made his way to the mouth of the Bluestone River and thence down the New River to his home in North Carolina. On this return trip Gist traveled an easterly course all the way leading toward Williamsburg, from whence he had started his exploration. If he had camped at Coeburn then to get from there to the "Chimneys" he would have been traveling a northerly course for one hundred miles out of his way. It is sheer nonsense to think one traveling by compass would have erred so badly. His Journal makes no mention of his having traveled such a northerly course.
     Anyone interested in plotting Gist's course can start at the Chimneys, a known and established point, plot the course backward, and they will find he passed through a northern neck of present Buchanan County, Virginia, and slightly north of Pikeville, Kentucky, and this is the closest he ever came to Wise County.
     In frontier times a Station was a refuge for settlers and travelers during Indian raids, and sometimes a buffer station for other stations located in the more populous interior. The latter, I think, was the purpose of Guest's Station - a buffer for the two forts at Castlewood and for Blackmore's Fort, called today Fort Blackmore.
     This writer has long felt, but never been able to prove until recently that Guest River was a War Path used by the Shawnee Indians coming up the Kentucky River through both Flat and Pound Gaps, fanning out at Coeburn to attack the Clinch settlements. 
     In the Washington County Land Entry Book 1, page 84, dated May 25, 1783, is an entry which reads in part:
     "200 acres entered for John Donald on the lowest branch of Toms Creek (Big Toms Creek) beginning at the line of the widow Carr's corn-right at Gist's Station and running up the creek on both sides of the War Path, everyway..."
     This land entry proves three things, (1) Guest River was a War Trace, 92) that the Station existed prior to 1783, and (3) that people had been either living or working around the Station - hence the "Widow Carr's corn-right". This could be none other than Hannah Carr, the widow of William Carr, who died on Carr's Creek in Russell County in 1782, where they resided and from whom the creek took its name.
     In the year 1777 when Polly Alley and Jane Whittaker were captured by the Shawnee on Clinch, the Indians intended to attack Guest Station, but upon arrival there found it well defended and desisted in their attack. Also after the girls escaped from their captors they returned and were taken in by the people at Guest Station. If this be true, then Guest Station was a fortified Station as early as 1777.
     In the spring of 1838, Elder Morgan T. Lipps settled on Big Toms Creek and states in his Diary that upon arrival the older settlers showed him the remains of the old Station with foundation stones, logs, and chimney rocks still lying upon the spot.
     Now early writers of history say that Gist stopped with his son, Tom, and rested and hunted for three days at Coeburn. Gist states in his Journal that he was accompanied only by his seventeen year old colored boy. It is silly to believe that in three days he and the colored boy could hew logs and build a structure with a stone chimney that would last from 1751 to 1838. In this span of time he could only have built a temporary shelter, perhaps a lean of brush and bark - and all that he needed for a three day stay. Further the first settlers on the Clinch did not arrive until 1769, and in all probability few, if any of them had ever heard of Christopher Gist. Then is it not ridiculous to say that one of them could have gone to the isolated spot in the wilderness and said, "Here, Christopher Gist camped 18 years ago"?
     Then what Gist did built Gist's Station? The writer has no answer for this. Certainly it was built by someone named Gist, and there were other Gists in the area besides Christopher Gist - if he was here! One David Gass moved from Albemarle County and settled in lower Castlewood in 1769. This is the same Captain David Gass who gave the Boone family shelter on his place in 1773, after part of Boone's party was massacred in Powell Valley, and who, himself, moved on to Boonesboro in 1779. In the early records his name is variously spelled Gist, Guess and Gass, the latter being correct. Also in upper Castlewood was another tract of land settled in 1769 by a David Gist, and the ford of Clinch River at this location was called Gist's Ford. Whether both these David Gist's were the true Captain David Gass is not known.
     The enigma still remains, who built Gist's Station, when and for what purpose is not known, but certainly it did not take its name from Christopher Gist.


 
 
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