The legacy of one of Cumberland County’s champions of history added another chapter to their work courtesy of a dear friend.
The late Susan Hill was a determined historian and genealogist who did much to organize and bring the stories of Cumberland County, its people and places into the light. Sadly, she passed in 2014 at the untimely age of 54 from pancreatic cancer. For local historians and members of the Cumberland Count Genealogy Society it was a significant blow but her unfinished work would not be relegated to the sidelines.
Hill had undertaken the task of compiling the Christie family genealogy and turned to a known author of the same family, Clare Christie, to carry on her project before Hill succumbed to her illness.
“I promised her I would bring out the book she had been wanting to do for some time,” Christie said.
The Christie family holds a place in Amherst’s own history. Once a prominent industrial family, the Christie Bros. & Company were a major employer after forming in 1863 and continuing on until their closure more than 100 years later in 1969. The company made carriages and luggage before turning their focus to trunks, suitcases and caskets.
Hill had brought together the timelines of the family but the work proved quite significant. When Christie picked up her pen to continue the story, she found it was going to take a bit longer than even she had expected.
“She handed me a binder, and I swear it was nine inches thick and I try not to exaggerate, so you can imagine. Then [Hill’s father] Al came by with things and I spent the whole winter looking through that hard copy,” Christie said.
The second winter Christie says she had another 1,000 files to go through before bringing to together the material into its final product.
Christie launched the book in the spirit of giving copies to the Four Fathers Memorial Library, the Cumberland County Museum and Archives and the Cumberland County Genealogy Society.
Not the first donation Christie has made of her work to the library, Denise Corey, Chief Librarian Cumberland Public Libraries, says the local author and local history are popular with reading audiences, making ‘The Christie Book: Descendants of Robert Christie and Sarah Innes’ a welcome addition to the Four Fathers Memorial Library’s collection.
“Claire has given us several books which has been fantastic and we loan them out. They really do go out like hotcakes,” Corey said. “People really do like to read about the local history. They like to talk about the local families and things that happened in the community.”