Descendants of Landsford Christy
From 1808 Virginia and Frontier Illinois to Present-day
George William Christy was born in southwestern (probably North Alton) Illinois in 1841. He fought in the Civil War for four years in the 27th Illinois Infantry Regiment, which was recruited from Madison and Macoupin counties.
His name in military records is spelled "Cristy". He is listed as, "Cristy, George W Pvt F 27 IL US INF [from] ALTON." Mustered Aug. 17, 1861, discharged "Jan 1, 1864; disabil."
|An overview of Durango taken from Smelter mountain about 1890.|
The 27th Illinois Infantry Regiment was engaged in the following Civil War Battles or Campaigns from 1861 late 1863: Belmont, New Madrid/Island No. 10, Siege of Corinth, Stone's River (Murfreesboro), Tullahoma Campaign, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge (Chattanooga). Rootsweb has the regimental history.
According to the 1880 Census, George was 'deaf and dumb' and employed as a 'Lightening Rod Agnt'. Given that he left the 27th Regiment with a "disabil", it appears that he lost his speech and hearing in the Civil War.
George married Sarah Elizabeth "Lizzy" Stephens from Paducah, Kentucky. Their son Guy Herbert was born 11 Oct 1871 in Upper Alton, Illinois, just north of St. Louis. Guy became a blacksmith. In 1897, at age 26, he married Bessie Roberts Diuguid who was from Guy's mother's birthplace, Paducah, Kentucky. Given that Alton and Paducah are about 190 miles apart, it is easy to suppose that Guy met Bessie on one of the family visits to Paducah. George and Lizzy's daughter Carrie married a fellow by the last name of Nipper.
The Family Moves West
In late 1897 or early 1898, Guy Herbert and Bessie Roberts Christy moved from North Alton to Paducah, Kentucky. Their children Herbert Estelle and Anne Elizabeth were born in Paducah, Kentucky in 1898 and 1899, respectively. It appears likely that her grandparents, now in their 50s, moved with them.
We are fortunate to have handwritten notes (matching the handwriting found in the family bible and probably that of Bessie), found on a 1907 calendar, that provide the dates for Bessie Christy's family's journey from Kentucky to California.
On January 15, 1907, Guy, Bessie, and the two children, along with his parents George and Lizzy Christy, left via train for Durango, Colorado. They arrived five days later on January 20, 1907. They stayed the summer. On September 8, 1907, the family left for the mining town of Silverton, 47 miles to the north. But Guy apparently found that the mining industry in Colorado was waning by that time, and there was not enough work for blacksmiths. Either that or they got tired of the snow.
The family stayed in Silverton less than two months, and on Oct. 31, 1907, they departed for Santa Cruz, California. My grandmother, Anne Elizabeth Christy, was eight years old when the family took a stagecoach, apparently from Silverton to Durango. She recalled that it was so cold that her father gave her a shot of whisky to warm her up. They took a train the rest of the way to California and arrived in Santa Cruz, California, on November 1, 1907.
|Guy Christy in his blacksmith shop in Santa Cruz, circa 1909. He went on to become an instructor in welding and blacksmithing at Heald School in San Francisco.|
They stayed in Santa Cruz only one week before leaving for San Francisco. The emergency rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake was largely at an end, and the inflated wages of that period were shrinking due to an oversupply of labor. A major strike of streetcar men had just ended with the complete collapse of the labor unions in San Francisco, and all the supervisors and the mayor had been found guilty of bribery.
From Farrier to Welder
Apparently Guy did not immediately find work in Santa Cruz, and he then went to Nevada to the silver mines, to see if he could find work there. We have a picture of him fixing a wagon, labeled "1908 Elko, Nev."
Guy returned to Santa Cruz within the year and opened his own blacksmithing shop, as shown in the picture below. It appears, however, as automobiles multiplied, that the days of blacksmithing were numbered.
In 1915, Guy's father George William Christy died at age 73. George's headstone, in the International Order of Odd Fellows cemetery in Santa Cruz, California, is inscribed, "July 15, 1915 Geo. W. Christy CO F 27 ILL INF". Guy, Bessie, the children and grandmother Lizzy Stephens Christy remained in Santa Cruz until November 9, 1916, when the family, excepting Anne, moved to San Francisco.
At age 17, Anne showed an early streak of independence and remained in Santa Cruz to complete her studies at Heald Business College in bookkeeping and shorthand. Two months later, in January, 1917, she followed her parents to San Francisco and sought work there (as shown by reference letters written by her instructor).
In San Francisco, Guy paid to attend the Heald School and learn welding. He then worked for Heald from the middle of 1916 to the middle of 1917. In October 1918, the family lived in the Glasgow Apartments at 525 Turk, near Larkin, in San Francisco.
|An Willys-Overland Car Company model in 1916. Only $615. In 1914, the Willys-Overland car company was second only to Ford in car production.|
In early 1919, Anne Elizabeth "Betty" Christyshe grew to dislike the name Annewent to work for one of the companies that had put her father out of the farrier business, the Willys-Overland Car Company, as an accountant. In January 1920, according to the Census, her father Guy was also working for the former competition as a welder in an autoshop; Bessie worked as a sales clerk in a store, and Anne (or Betty) was listed as a stenographer in the auto business. Betty, my grandmother, told me with great satisfaction that she "made good money on that job." She was the only woman in the accounting department and she had men working under her, an unusual situation for a woman her age and for the time period.
Earlier in 1919, Betty met a Navy radioman named Harold Bartle "Bart" Phelps on a blind double date with another girl. Their courtship was rapid. Bart was transferred to Honolulu in August 1919. Only a few months later, on March 2o, 1920, Betty left her job and sailed on the Matson ship S. S. Manoa from San Francisco to Honolulu. Betty and Bart were married there one week after she arrived, on April 6. No family members could make the expensive trip to Hawaii, and only a few friends of short duration were able to attend the wedding. No invitations were sent, only an announcement afterwards. They were eventually married over 64 years.
Guy Becomes a Welding Instructor at Heald
By 1920, Guy was an instructor in welding at Heald, and in 1921 he became the welding and blacksmith department head.
During the 1920s, grandmother Lizzy Stephens Christy, who had accompanied the family all the way from Kentucky to Santa Cruz and then San Francisco, moved home to Paducah, Kentucky to live among her brothers and sisters. She died on May 31, 1932, at age 61, while visiting her daughter Carrie Christy Nipper and her sister Nita Diuguid Houck in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her body was transported home by train and Lizzy was buried in the Stephens plot in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Paducah.
|Front, clockwise: Bessie, Herbert, Anne, and Guy circa 1917, just after the move to San Francisco from Santa Cruz.|
Guy and Bessie's son Herbert "Bert" Estelle Christy first served in the Army during World War I in the 320th Signal Corp. After he was discharged, he went to work for the Union Pacific railroad. According to his sister Betty, "He got off the train one day and dropped dead."
Bert died on April 22, 1927, apparently of a heart attack or stroke, just after his 29th birthday, in San Bernardino, California. He never married. A telegram from E. E. Cunningham in San Bernardino to Guy H. Christy in San Francisco, dated Apr. 22, 1927, states, "HERBERT E. CHRISTY DIED SUDDENLY PRESUME HEART FAILURE SAN BERNARDINO TODAY. E. E. CUNNINGHAM". Herbert's mom's sister, Ruth Kate Diuguid, was married to a Cunningham in Paducah, KY. Perhaps E. E. Cunningham also worked for the railroad or was located in the San Bernardino area. Herb was buried in Colma, California. (A deed from the Mountain View Cemetery Association, dated April 25, 1927, grants Guy H. Christy a lot "numbered 483, block Cedar".) A notarized document, signed by Herbert's grandmother, attests to his birth at 714 South Fourth Street, between Ohio and Tennessee Streets, in Paducah.
According to the 1930 Census, Guy and Bessie continued to live in the Glasgow Apartments. Guy's birthplace is mistakenly given as Scotland, but then the entry appears to be crossed out and possibly "IL" is added. His parents' birthplaces are Illinois, and Bessies' are Kentucky. The monthly rent was $35 and they did not own a radio.
It's during this period that we believe they met May Forrgeaud Haskell, widow of Brig. General Harry L. Haskell. She lived only a few blocks away at 1482 Sutter Street, and we found among my grandmother Anne Christy Phelps' possessions a Civil War medal belonging to May's husband.
At some point during the 1930s, Guy apparently opened a welding shop in Sacramento, attested to by a business card for "Christy's Welding Works" at 1205 Eye Street.
In June, 1941, Bessie visited with her sister Anita "Nita" May Houck in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the 1940s, Guy and Bessie moved to 1574 78th Ave. in Oakland, California. They managed an apartment house in Oakland near Lake Merrit.
Their daughter Betty worked outside the home for a few months during the war, otherwise she was a full-time mother and homemaker. Betty and Bart built a house in 1936 in San Mateo, California for $7000.
Guy and Bessie died only a few months apart: Bessie on March 12, 1947 and Guy on November 10, 1947. They are buried together in Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, California.
Knowing her parents' experience during the Depression and their distrust of banks, Betty and Bart expected to find some money hidden in their home, and they looked throughout the house several times, but only found several small envelopes with a few dollars in them. Shortly afterwards, Betty had a dream and she told Bart to look in the heater compartment over the top of the door. Hidden there where only knowing fingers would find it was an envelope containing $1500—equivalent to about $15,000 in 2008.
Anne and Bart lived at 303 Seville Way for 48 years, when Bart died in March 1984 at age 91. In 1987, Betty sold the home that had cost them $7000 in 1936 for $291,000 and moved to Santa Maria, California, to be near their only son, Harold "Hal" Bartle Phelps, Jr. and his wife Maxine. Betty passed away from natural causes on December 12, 1997 at the age of 97.
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