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The Christy Family

George H. Christy

Attorney and Civil War Veteran George Harvey Christy practiced patent law for over 40 years in Pittsburgh in the late 1860s until his death in 1909. He was also a prominent member of the Sewickley community for most of his life.

George H. Christy was born in the rural border county of Trumbull, Ohio, to Hannah Andrews and John Christy, a farmer. Through his mother, he was descended from Revolutionary War veteran Second Lieutenant John Andrews of the Connecticut militia. 

Photograph of George H. Christy.

After graduating from Western Reserve University (Case Western University) in 1859, G.H. Christy relocated to Pittsburgh, where from 1859-1861 he worked as an editor at two newspapers, the Pittsburgh Daily Chronicle and the Commercial Journal. From 1861-1863, Christy was a professor of mathematics at Western University of Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh).

In 1864, Christy enlisted for a 100-day term in Knapp’s Battalion, a light artillery unit, where he served as quartermaster sergeant. After that term of service was complete, Christy was commissioned a second lieutenant in Company A, 22nd United States Colored Infantry Regiment. He served with the regiment in Virginia and saw combat with his men at Fair Oaks. Assigned to the newly formed XXV Corps in December 1864, the regiment participated in the trench warfare of the Richmond-Petersburg campaign over the next four months. George H. Christy was promoted to first lieutenant and then adjutant during this time.

The 22nd Regiment was among the first Union infantry to enter Richmond after the Confederate capital fell at the beginning of April 1865. They were in Richmond when Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad toured the city from April 4-7, 1865. Just days later, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The fallen president received a funeral in the nation’s capital on April 19th, in a procession that stretched more than two miles in length. The 22nd Regiment, with George Christy and Company A, had the high honor of being at the head of the military column. After the president’s funeral, the regiment was deployed to Maryland, where they joined the manhunt for Booth.

Christy was honorably discharged in the fall of 1865 and returned to Pittsburgh. He studied law under attorney James Veech and Judge Edwin H. Stowe, and in 1866 he was formally admitted to the Allegheny County Bar. Christy formed a patent law practice with Pittsburgh native William Bakewell. The firm later expanded to include Thomas B. Kerr and George Christy’s sons, Marshall and Bayard.

Photograph of George Westinghouse, a notable client of George H. Christy.

Christy’s specialty in patent law led to his being hired as counsel and vice president of Westinghouse Airbrake Company, overseeing management of the company’s intellectual property. Christy eventually returned to private practice, enjoying a legal career that spanned 42 years.

In 1867, George Christy married Sarah Haskell Marshall. The couple had five children who survived to adulthood: Marshall, Bayard, Lucy, Ethel and Abby. An active and proud member of the Sewickley Presbyterian Church, George H. Christy served as both a church elder and bible study teacher with the parish for 37 years.

The Christy family moved to Sewickley in 1862, where they made their home at 403 Frederick Avenue.

George H. Christy opened several savings accounts at Dollar Bank. His first account dated from April 1862, when he was a mathematics professor. He later opened accounts in trust for his children in 1878 and 1879.

Dollar Bank account signature of George Christy.

Ethel Wood Christy

George H. Christy’s daughter, Ethel Christy, opened an account of her own in June 1898.  A lifelong Sewickley resident, she grew up in the family home on Frederick Avenue and remained there the rest of her years, living with her sister Anna and brother Bayard.

Ethel Christy was active in the Sewickley Presbyterian Church, where she led a youth group. She also traveled extensively with her siblings. In 1922, she and Anna visited the British Isles, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Gibraltar, Spain, Portugal, Monaco, Italy, Greece, Algeria and Egypt.

Dollar Bank account signature of Ethel Christy.

Bayard Henderson Christy

Attorney, author, ornithologist, conservationist and humanitarian Bayard Christy was born in Sewickley. Like his siblings, he was encouraged by his parents to pursue learning while at home and at school. Upon graduating from local schools, Christy attended Williams College in Massachusetts from 1890-1894. He followed his father into the legal profession after attending Harvard Law School.

In 1897, Bayard Christy was admitted to the Pittsburgh bar, then joined his father, G.H. Christy, and eldest brother Marshall A. Christy in practicing patent law.

Photograph of Bayard Christy, courtesy of Sewickley Public Library.

Outside of his legal career, Christy was an active member of the Sewickley Audubon Society.  He served as both vice president and president of the Sewickley chapter of the club. Christy founded the Sewickley Audubon Society’s publication "The Cardinal,” dedicated to studies and illustrations of birds. Christy served as the editor until his death in 1943. 

Bayard Christy joined the Young Men's Christian Association during WWI to lend aid to individuals whose lives had been uprooted by the war. Christy and a cohort of Y.M.C.A. workers traveled to Russia, where they spent a year performing humanitarian service from early 1918-1919. When Russia experienced a severe famine just two years later, Christy served as chairman of the Pittsburgh Russian Famine Fund, which raised $57,000 in aid. Russian expatriates in Pittsburgh contributed at least $3,000 to the fund.

Christy’s adult life was marked by a passion for life in the outdoors. An avid ornithologist, he sometimes hiked for days following and observing birds he was studying. Christy followed hawks in his native Southwestern Pennsylvania, condors in Southern California, and at age 72 hiked the Singer Track in Louisiana with fellow ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson in search of the extremely rare ivory-billed woodpecker.

Illustration of a Meadowlark from Thomas Gilbert Pearson's 1925 book,


Among the works Bayard Christy authored were the 1920 book Going Afoot: A Book on Walking and monographs on the California Condor and Bewick’s Wren. Christy also co-authored the 1937 Report of the Committee on Bird Protection.

A lifelong Sewickley resident, Christy was president of the Sewickley Library Trustees, a leader of the Query Club and a member of Sewickley Presbyterian Church.

Bayard H. Christy opened an account with Dollar Bank in March 1904.

Dollar Bank account signature of Bayard Christy.