Christie Family Letters
Archive of Letters, both incoming and outgoing, for Cornelius Christie, Esq., and Family, of Leonia, Ridgefield Township, Bergen County, New Jersey, dated 1851-1887.

Archive of 228 Letters, 765 manuscript pages, many with original mailing envelopes. The bulk of the correspondence dates from the 1850's (161 of 228 letters, 448 of 765 pages), when Cornelius Christie was a student at Yale College, and afterwards at Harvard University reading law, before starting his law career under the guidance of Mercer Beasley of Trenton, New Jersey and Abraham O. Zabriskie, of Jersey City, New Jersey. These are mainly incoming letters from his siblings. The latter part of the archive (1872-1887) is mainly incoming letters written from California by Mary Christie Romaine, Cornelius's sister and the wife of Nicholas Romaine, a San Francisco merchant.

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Cornelius Christie was born December 6, 1835, the son of David Christie (1789-1848) and Anna Brinkerhoff. His parents had fifteen children. On his father's side, his great-great-grandfather, James Christie, was a native of Scotland. His mother on the other hand descended from the Brinckerhoff family, Dutch immigrants who came to New York as early as the 1630s, before settling in the Hackensack area of New Jersey by the 1680s. For many years they were members of the Dutch Reformed Church. Cornelius's grandfather, James Christie, served in the militia during the American Revolution in return for which his homestead was burnt to the ground by zealous royalists.

When David Christie married Ann Brinkerhoff, the couple moved to New York City. David was engaged in the stone-cutting business. In 1835, he purchased the family homestead a farm at Garret Meyer, at English Neighborhood (now Leonia), New Jersey and removed from New York City to his farm. When David died he left a wife and ten children.

Cornelius Christie prepared with the Rev. Dr. Mahon and entered Yale College, taking a full curriculum and graduated in 1855. After Yale he worked in the offices of Chief Justice Mercer Beasley at Trenton, New Jersey. He chose law as his profession and went to Harvard University to study law for a year, afterwards working under the Hon. Abraham O. Zabriskie, at Jersey City. He was accepted to the New Jersey Bar in 1859 and set up a practice at Jersey City, New Jersey, working there until 1871. For many years he was consultant for his own township and surrounding municipalities.

Cornelius's brother James was collector of the township of Ridgefield, New Jersey and served in the Civil War with a commission as a captain. Cornelius's brother Nicholas was one of the four men that chose the name Leonia as the new name of English Neighborhood. His sister married millionaire Leonia developer Edward Stagg.

In 1867, Cornelius was elected as a Democrat from Bergen County to the New Jersey State Legislature and served two years (1867-1868). In 1871, after leaving law and having a taste for journalism, he started The New Jersey Citizen, a semi-weekly newspaper, at Hackensack. He published his paper out of the well-known "Bank House." He worked as editor and proprietor, devoting it to the promotion of local interests and the improvements of journalism in the county, its political stance was Democratic. He published the paper for six years (1871-1877), until returning to his law practice. He was prominent in getting Leonia incorporated as a borough in 1894 and was elected its first mayor and served three successive terms of two years each. He was a life long bachelor and lived out his life at Leonia, New Jersey. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, President of the Bergen County Bar Association and President of the Bergen County Historical Society. He died on March 7th, 1908.

Detailed Description of Archive as follows:

1850s - 161 letters, 448 pages, mainly incoming letters, written by the siblings of Cornelius Christie to him when he was away at college (Yale), at Law School (Harvard), or when he first began his law practice at Jersey City, New Jersey, or moved back to Bergen County. The main correspondents are his brothers John (23 letters), James (43 letters) and Peter (27 letters), as well as his sister Jemima (17 letters). Cornelius wrote 17 of these letters, all to his sister Jemima. Several of these letters were written by him to Jemima while she was attending the Brooklyn Female Institute. Other correspondents are his other siblings: Kezia, Mary, Molly, and William. There are also a couple of letters written to Cornelius by his cousin Isaac Brinkerhoff. The collection also includes several letters written between the siblings, James to Jemima, Mary to Jemima, Molly to Jemima, etc.

The correspondence concerns the extended Christie family of North Jersey, New York, and points elsewhere. Much on family news, and domestic life, etc., with some observations on school by Cornelius.

This portion of the collection consists of the following:

1851 - 12 letters, 32 pages: 8 letters dated from English Neighborhood, NJ; 3 from New York City, NY; 1 Yale College, New Haven, CT;

1852 - 19 letters, 61 pages: 7 letters dated from English Neighborhood, NJ; 4 New York City, NY; 3 Yale College, New Haven, CT; 2 West Point, NY; 1 Warwick; 2 others no place.

1853 - 32 letters, 94 pages: 13 letters dated from English Neighborhood, NJ; 5 Middleton, [CT?]; 6 West Point, NY; 3 New York City, NY; 2 Yale College, New Haven, CT; 2 Pleasant Valley; 1 no place listed.

1854 - 19 letters, 59 pages: 9 letters dated from English Neighborhood, NJ; 5 New York City, NY; 3 Yale College, New Haven, CT; 1 Brooklyn, NY; 1 Claverack, NY.

1855 - 16 letters, 49 pages: 6 letters dated from English Neighborhood, NJ; 4 Claverack, NY; 3 New York City, NY; 1 Brooklyn, NY; 1 Yale College, New Haven, CT; 1 no place.

1856 - 10 letters, 27 pages: 3 letters dated from New York, NY; 3 Brooklyn, NY; 2 Stamford, CT; Valley Side; English Neighborhood, NJ.

1857 - 38 letters, 117 pages: 16 dated from New York City, NY; 8 English Neighborhood, NJ; 6 Hackensack, NJ; 3 Stamford, CT; 2 Brooklyn, NY; 2 Cambridge, MA; 1 Trenton, NJ.

1858 - 15 letters, 49 pages: 10 letters dated from New York, N; 3 English Neighborhood, NJ; 2 Cambridge, MA.

The 1870s section (28 letters, 118 pages) and the 1880s section (39 letters, 159 pages) of the archive consists mainly of letters written from California by Cornelius Christie's sister Mary Christie (59 of 67 letters, 246 of 277 pages), who moved to San Francisco with her husband and children.  She married Nicholas T. Romaine and had been living at Leonia before moving to California. Romaine became the manager of I.S. Van Winkle & Co., a large importer and dealer in San Francisco of iron, steel and heavy hardware, as well as blacksmith materials. He later became the President of the Merchants' Shipping Association of San Francisco, an organization founded in 1892 for the purpose of obtaining, by organized co-operation, freights from the Atlantic to San Francisco at the lowest possible cost. Mary writes of the difficulties of adjusting to a new life in California, her homesickness, life in California during this time period and of family, friends and of course the latest gossip. She also mentions the work of her husband and the difficulties he was having starting up in San Francisco. The small group of undated letters (5 letters) also has one letter from California. For the most part, these letters are from Mary Romaine to her brother Cornelius, her sisters, and her mother back in Bergen County, New Jersey.

The letters from this period are as follows:

1872 - 2 letters, 12 pages, dated Riverside Institute, Westport, CT & Leonia,NJ.

1873 - 2 letters, 10 pages, dated San Francisco, CA.

1877 - 3 letters, 12 pages, dated San Francisco, CA.

1878 - 12 letters, 50 pages, all dated from San Francisco, CA.

1879 - 9 letters, 34 pages, all dated from San Francisco, CA.

1880 - 11 letters, 50 pages, all dated from San Francisco, CA.

1881 - 7 letters, 26 pages, 5 dated from San Francisco, 1 from San Rafael, CA, 1 from NY

1882 - 14 letters, 58 pages, 11 dated from San Rafael, CA, 3 from San Francisco, CA

1883 - 1 letter, 4 pages, San Francisco, CA, 5 March 1883

1887 - 1 letter, 4 pages, San Francisco, CA, 22 Nov 1887

There are also 5 letters (17 pages) that are not dated, but posted from San Francisco, CA; New Haven, CT; English Neighborhood & Hackensack, NJ; New York, NY. While not dated, they appear to be from the 1850s period, except the one dated from San Francisco, which is probably like the others from that city, 1870s - 1880s. The collection also contains several related ephemeral items.