Thursday, October 6, 2011

EmigranThursday - James Christie

Welcome to this week’s EmigranThursday which features James Christie of Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio. Biographical information about him appeared on pages 690-691 of the History of Columbiana County Ohio by Harold B. Barth, published in 1926. Additional research was completed on Ancestry and FamilySearch.

James Christie, deceased, was well known and highly esteemed in Salem, where he was identified with the Silver Manufacturing Company for 42 years. He was a native of Scotland, born Oct. 8, 1862, and the son of William and Elizabeth (Williamson) Christie.

            William Christie spent his entire life in Scotland and is now deceased. He was a farmer. There were 12 children in the Christie family, only one of whom are now living: Andrew, who lives in Scotland.

          James Christie was reared and educated in his native land and at the age of 21 years came to this country. He settled in Canada for a short time, after which he located in Salem, where he became connected with the Salem & Deming Manufacturing Company as a blacksmith. Mr. Christie remained in the employ of this company continuously from that time until his death, Aug. 2, 1925. The firm is now known as the Silver Manufacturing Company. He was foreman of the blacksmith and structural steel departments and was one of the company’s trusted and capable employees.

            Mr. Christie was married in 1889 to Miss Sarah Karr, of Scotland, who came to this county at the age of 23 years in 1882. She is the daughter of John and Mary (Campbell) Karr, both deceased. To Mr. and Mrs. Christie were born three children: Elizabeth, married George Shasteen, lives in Salem; Mary, married Mont Calladine, lives at Warren, Ohio; and George N, lives at Salem, where he was employed by the Silver Manufacturing Company.

            Mr. Christie was a member of the Presbyterian Church and was affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

If the William Christie and Elizabeth Williamson that I found in FamilySearch are James' and Andrew's parents, then the family was from Whithorn, Wigtownshire in southwest Scotland. The brothers had two older siblings who were born before civil registration, John and Sarah. No other children born to this couple appeared in the FamilySearch index. How many individuals from this sizable family came to North America is difficult to say as information is limited and I don't have access to Canadian records.

Sarah Ferguson Kerr was born 22 September 1859 in Dalry, Ayrshire to John Kerr and Mary Campbell. She was baptized at the Burgher Church in Dalry on 2 October. There does not appear to be any easily recognizable siblings in the FamilySearch index.

What does seem certain, if any of James' siblings did come to North America they did not join him in Columbiana County. The first census he and Sarah appear in is 1900 (the 1890 one is not extant), then 1910 and 1920. In the Christie household in 1900 was James (38, occupation: blacksmith), Sarah (39), Elizabeth (15), Mary (12), George (4) and Sarah's mother, Mary Kerr (64). The Christies indicate that they had been married 15 years and that they both immigrated to the United States in 1883. By 1910, James was now the foreman at a tin shop, their daughters had left the household, Mrs. Kerr must have died, and they had taken in two Scottish-born boarders who were carpenters at an Engine Company. In 1920, James and Sarah Christie were empty-nesters, even the boarders were gone. In this year, they indicate that they came to the United States in 1888.

James W. Christie, according to his death certificate, was buried on August 4th in the Hope Cemetery in Salem, Ohio.  Sarah F. Christie died 21 October 1950 at the age of 91 years. 

Based upon the information in the biography and the census, it seems that James Christie emigrated to Canada in 1883 and stayed there about five years before coming to the United States in 1888. If Sarah did indeed follow the same pattern, the Christies and the Kerrs might have emigrated to Canada at the same time, if not together.

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