Ohio Biographies

Charles Cist

Charles Cist was born in Philadelphia, in 1793; in 1827-28 came to Cin-cinnati, and died there in 1868.  He was the author of “Cincinnati in 1841;” ditto in 1851; ditto in 1859; and “The Cincinnati Miscellany,” composed largely of incidents in the early history of the West.  He wrote the descriptive article upon Cincinnati in 1847 in the first edition of this work; and here reprinted.  He conducted for a term of years Cist’s Weekly Advertiser.  His editorial columns were largely personal, well sprinkled with “I’s “—those “I’s” meaning himself—which enhanced their interest.  As one read, there appeared to his vision “Father Cist” looking in his eyes, smiling and talking.  He was filled with a love of Cincinnati, and ministered to the extraordinary social fraternal feeling that existed among its old people—its pioneers.  He would often print some gossipy item like that upon Judge Burnet, who, having used tobacco for a lifetime, had broken off in his old age, and was waxing in flesh under the deprivation.  Another week, perhaps, it would be Nicholas Longworth, Judge Este, Bellamy Storer, Nathaniel Wright, or possibly that eccentricity, finical, poetical, and artistical Peyton Symmes, that would come in for an item.

Much he wrote was tinged with humor, and some of his own experiences were comically told.  One we remember was about in this wise ‘‘I got,’’ said he, ‘‘into the stage-coach at the Dennison house, one day last week, to go to Oxford, and was the only passenger until we neared Hamilton, which was after night, when half a dozen young college boys came aboard, and, without ask-ing if it was agreeable to me, filled the coach (832) with tobacco-smoke.  It made me deadly sick, but I said nothing.  While we changed horses at Hamilton I made a little purchase in an apothecary shop.  The coach started again; the boys continued smoking.  In a few minutes one and then another exclaimed “Whew! what a horrid smell!  What is it?  Oh!  Awful!”  I sat for a time in silence, enjoying their expressions of disgust.  Then I said ‘Young gentlemen, we have all our especial tastes.  You are fond of tobacco-smoking, to me it is excessively disagreeable I have just made a purchase, which I am rubbing in my hands as an antidote to your smoke and I must confess I rather enjoy it.  You will say it is a curious idiosyncrasy of mine; it’s a piece of assafœtida.’  For a moment the youths were dumbfounded; next they burst into a roar, and then out of the window went their cigars, and my lump of assafœtida  followed after.’’

Lewis J. Cist, his son, who died in 1885, aged sixty-seven, had a local reputation as a poet and writer of music.  He published the “Souvenir” the first annual of the West.  He was an enthusiastic collector of auto-graphs and old portraits, his collection num-bering 11,000 of the former and one of the largest and most famous in the United States.  To him was ascribed the authorship of  “The Spotted Frog.’’ a parody on Gallagher's' popular ballad, The Spotted Fawn ’’ spoken of elsewhere in this work.

Henry M. Cist, a younger son, born in 1839, is now a lawyer in Cincinnati.  He was a general in the rebellion, and noted for his contributions to war literature, as Cincin-nati with the War Fever,’’ “The Romance of Shiloh,” and “Reports of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland.”  Mr. Cist’s father opened and superintended the first Sabbath-school in Cincinnati, and his grand-father, also named Charles Cist, born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and graduated at Halle, was a printer and publisher in Philadelphia, and was the first person to introduce anthra-cite coal into general use in the United States.  He was also the original printer of Paine’s “American Crisis.”


From Historical Collections of Ohio by Henry Howe; Pub. 1888