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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Robert Christie & Robert Christie, Jr.


ROBERT CHRISTIE is a representative Scot of the most worthy type, combining business ability and thrift with a life of noble example and Christian service. He was born at Chapel Hill, near Airdrie, Lanarkshire, February 19, 1841, and lived at Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, until August, 1851, when he came with his parents to America. His father died just two years later, and his mother returned to Scotland, but Robert, though only twelve years old, decided to stay in New York, and secured a position in a dry goods store. In 1855, he began his apprenticeship as a carpenter, a trade in which he showed marked efficiency; in 1867, when twenty-eight years of age, he started in business for himself as carpenter and builder, and continued until 1914, when he retired, after forty-seven years of remarkable success. During this time he built several churches, many private residences, apartment houses, commercial and office buildings in New York and vicinity, and his integrity and faithful work won the confidence and good-will of all with whom he had dealings.

In 1862, Mr. Christie married Miss Jessie Dykes, daughter of Thomas Dykes, Hamilton, Scotland. They had two sons, both of whom are dead: Robert Munro, who died in infancy, and Robert Christie, Jr., who died March 29, 1910, at the age of forty-four.

He was his father’s partner for fifteen years, and at the time of his death was managing the business. He showed great ability in this connection and was active in the work of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen and in the Master Carpenters’ Association, of which he was a member for twenty years and the Secretary for the last ten years of his life. He was a member of the St. Andrew ‘s Society of New York, and a member and officer of the church of his parents. He was a lovable character. A memorial, issued by the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, and written by one who knew him for more than twenty years, says: "From my earliest acquaintance with him there was dominant an enthusiasm for his work from which none of his associates could escape. Nothing daunted him by its perplexity, nothing discouraged him by its failure-—he was always ready for every emergency, for every contingency—and back of this enthusiasm and courage, was an equipment of practical knowledge of details that sometimes amazed me. Such a well-equipped man, with his heart in his work, is a power to be reckoned with in this world, and such to my mind was our departed brother."

Mr. Christie, Sr., has been a member of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen for forty years, and was President in 1899, and is Chairman of the Finance Committee. This society was organized in 1785, and in 1820 founded a school which is now Mechanics’ Institute, occupying the large building at 16 West 44th St., New York, with 2,200 pupils, divided into twenty-four classes, to whom free instruction is given. About two hundred skilled workers are graduated from the Institute each year. Mr. Christie was also President of the Master Carpenters’ Association for two years, and is identified with the Building Trades Employers’ Association of New York, and has been a member of the St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York for twenty-five years, and is a member of the Board of Managers.

Soon after his arrival in this country, sixty-three years ago, Robert Christie attended the Sunday School of the Church of the Disciples of Christ, now at 142 West 81st St., New York, of which he is still an active member, and has been officially connected with the Sunday School and the church since 1854, and is now senior elder, and President of the official Board of the Church. When Mr. and Mrs. Christie celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, September 17, 1912, the church gave them a reception, and presented a gold loving cup. In sending out the invitations to this reception, one of the elders wrote: "There have been golden weddings in the past, but I do not know of one which celebrates the life of a couple in one church as this one will. The lives of Robert Christie and his wife have been so interwoven into the fiber of the Church of the Disciples of Christ in New York, that it is hard to think of Robert Christie without thinking of the church, and no one can think of the church here without thinking of Robert Christie. Brother and Sister Christie have devoted fifty years of their life to the work of the church here, and our church feels that it honours itself in honouring this worthy couple."

Mr. Christie has written a history of the church, which shows literary ability, and devotion to the work. The life of such a man is a blessing to the community.


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