‘The Adventure of Christian Fast’: Local family uncovers unique history

Posted by Lonnie Allen • Last Updated 2:04 pm on Monday, August 20 2012

Nancy Esch of Crystal and her son, Ron Esch of Carson City, traveled to the 125th annual fast family reunion in Savannah, Ohio, this summer. Pictured above is a photograph of a previous Fast family reunion from at least a century ago. — Courtesy photo

CRYSTAL — Two years ago Crystal resident Nancy Esch learned that her maiden name Fast was popular in early American history.

Her son, Ron Esch of Carson City, started looking into his mother’s side of the family. What he found out about the Fast name surprised him and his mother.

“I feel like we hit the jackpot in family history,” Ron said. “I searched Fast on the Internet and all this stuff started coming up about Christian Fast and I even found him on Wikipedia.”

Christian Fast gets his fame from his experiences from fighting Native Americans under the command of Gen. George Rogers Clark in 1781. He spent about a year with the Delaware tribe as a captive before escaping in the fall of 1782 during the siege of Fort Wheeling.

Don Oakley documents Fast’s story in a book titled “The Adventure of Christian Fast.” There are many other documents and newspaper articles about his life in Ashland County, Ohio.

“We never knew about this,” Ron said. “My grandfather never shared any stories like this with any of us.”

Ron Esch of Carson City reviews documents with his mother, Nancy Esch of Crystal. They are researching Nancy’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, Christian Fast, who is the subject of a book, “The Adventure of Christian Fast,” which Nancy Esch is holding. — Daily News/Lonnie Allen

Nancy is the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Christian Fast.

The Fasts were pioneer settlers in Orange Township, Ashland County, which at the time was a part of Richland County. The story is typical of the early pioneers. The Fasts had been part of the frontier life in southwestern Pennsylvania and when land opened up in Ohio they migrated as a family. It was toward the end of the Revolutionary War when Christian Fast was going down the Ohio River under the command of Col. Archibald Lochry to join in an expedition against the Native American tribes in the area to the west.

As the expedition moved down the river, the boats got separated and Fast was captured by Indians.

“He was living with the Indians for more than a year,” Nancy said. “It was interesting to find out all this about my ancestor.”

Fast’s companions were executed by their captors, but he earned favor with his captors by using his hands.

“According to some of the documents I hav,e that is how he remained alive because the Indians liked the fact he entertained them by walking on his hands,” Ron said.

Fast saved people from an Indian attack by escaping from the tribe one night. According to accounts, he went to get some water from the river and was able to escape his captors, who figured he had drowned in the river.  By escaping, Fast was able to save family and friends from an impending attack by the Delawares.

A stone commemorating the life of Christian Fast. — Courtesy photo

A stone commemorating the life of Christian Fast. — Courtesy photo

Nancy said all this history is amazing to her. She encourages others to find out more about their past.

“If you are young ask your grandparents, great-grandparents and relatives who are still alive that can give you insight,” she said. “I wish my parents would have lived to hear about this. It is fascinating and information can get lost.”

Nancy and Ron have been going through documents of the history of the Fast family to document the genealogy back to her. Nancy knows her great-grandfather moved from Ohio to Indiana and her grandfather remained there when her father moved to Michigan.

“I can remember as a little girl going to Indiana to my father’s class reunions,” she said. “But no one ever talked about our history that much so we had no idea what we would uncover.”

The Eschs traveled to the 125th annual Fast family reunion in Savannah, Ohio, on June 10.

“The first reunion took up most of the front page of the Ashland Times,” Ron said.

Now that the Ron has learned about his mother’s descendants on her father’s side, Nancy is going through the process of becoming a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

“I’m not a member yet because I need to get the birth certificates and death certificates of my great-grandfather Joseph and his wife Mary,” she said. “Most of those records are in Indiana and I haven’t gotten down there yet.”

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