First Christmas In Ohio

Weekly Story

During Christmas, 1750, Christopher Gist—an American with religious instruction by the Church of England and leader of the Ohio Company—enters a section of the Ohio River Valley claimed by the French.

December 25, 1750. Christmas Day.—This, no doubt, was the first Protestant religious service ever held within the limits of the present State of Ohio.—William M. Darlington, “Notes”, Christopher Gist’s Journals (1893).

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

      Christopher Gist



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 coud,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 to 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 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 woud 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 woud 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.