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IN THE following sketch the biographer hopes to portray,
in part at least, the accomplishments of a busy man
Will Christy, one of the best known and most success-
ful electric railroad men of the present day in Ohio.
These accomplishments were attained through the solving of economic problems: the art by which human needs and comforts are applied; the systematic use of time, free to everybody, but frequently wasted by injudicious application, and the further fact that the average possessor is not stimulated to an economy of time by necessity, arising through desire to make it count in weight and power as it passes to the wheel. Prompt, reliable, and responsible, he maintains dignity; being genial, companionable, and courteous, none have difficulty in approaching him; careful in his antagonisms, he preserves friendships.
Mr. Christy was born December 7, 1859, in Akron, Ohio, in which city he spent the major portion of his life and still maintains his residence. He is a son of James and Jeanette (Warner) Christy, whose family consisted of six children. James Christy was one of the pioneers of Akron and Summit County, and a man of sterling attributes of head and heart, who did a great deal for the early growth and general welfare of Akron. He was educated in the early-day district schools and a select school at Middlebury, Ohio. He worked on his father's farm when a boy, later taught two terms of school, and when, twenty-one years of age he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, James Sawyer, establishing a tannery under the firm name of Christy & Sawyer. They continued this business together with a shoe factory and store until 1851. The following year he formed a partnership with his brother, John H. Christy, and the business grew to large proportions. In 1879, he formed a partnership with his two sons, James, Jr., and Will Christy, under the firm name of James Christy & Sons, making leather and dealing in furs, hides and findings. He was one of the brave band that crossed the great western plains to the gold fields of California, making the overland trip in 1850 with ox teams. The trip, which was a perilous one through deserts and over rugged mountains, often in the domain of hostile savages, required five months; but the elder Christy was a man of courage and the journey was successfully made. He returned home a year later by way of the Isthmus of Panama, taking him nearly a month to cross that narrow strip of land which separates the two oceans and which can now be crossed in a few hours by the great canal. When seventy years of age he again visited the Pacific coast country and the Northwest. He was a man of influence in Akron and community. He was a Republican and active in party affairs. He served five years as a member of the city council. His death occurred in 1904, and his wife passed away in 1907.
Will Christy grew to manhood in his native city and received only a public school education in the Akron high school. When seventeen years old he began an apprenticeship in the tanner's trade under his father and was connected with him in the tanning and leather business in Akron fora period of ten years. He then became interested in street railway work and was instrumental in building and operating the first horse-car system in Akron. In 1888 he organized the Cleveland Construction Company, which built electric railways and electric light and power plants all over the country, both in the United States and Canada. He was president of that company from 1889 to 1906, when he retired as its president, but is still one of the directors. In 1894-95 he promoted and constructed the road known as the Akron, Bedford & Cleveland division of the Northern Ohio Traction & Light Company, which was the first long-distance suburban electric traction system in the world and was the beginning of the immense development of electric interurban traction systems in America. In 1897 Mr. Christy helped to organize the Central Savings Bank of Akron, and became its vice-president. This bank is now known as the Central Savings & Trust Company, and is the second largest banking institution in Summit County. Mr. Christy is now its president, in fact, has held this position for about twelve years. In 1898 he assisted in organizing the Hamilton Building Company which constructed the first large fireproof office building in Akron. In 1902 he became interested in the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company and is now a director of the same. In 1898 he organized the Akron Peoples' Telephone Company and was its president until early in 1915 when the property was sold to the Ohio State Telephone Company. He is now vice-president of and active in the Northern Ohio Traction & Light Company. He is at this writing president of the Youngstown & Ohio River Railroad Company.
In all these important and thriving concerns he is the principal factor, directing the affairs of each in a manner that reflects much credit upon his ability, fidelity, and honor, and to the eminent satisfaction of the stockholders and all concerned. He is a man of sound judgment, keen foresight and business acumen, and he has his affairs under such a superb system that he manages them with little trouble although vast in their scope. Although one of the present-day captains of industry of Ohio and the Middle West, he is withal a plain, unassuming gentleman whom it is a pleasure to meet.
Mr. Christy's principal benefactions have been in the work of the Young Men's Christian Association. He has been a trustee in that institution in Akron for a number of years. He is also trustee of various other benevolent and charitable organizations. He is a member of the Portage Country Club of Akron, and of the Union and Country Clubs of Cleveland. Politically he is a Republican.
Mr. Christy was married in 1890 to Rose Day, of Akron, who was a student in Oberlin College in 1886-87. She is a daughter of E. S. Day and wife, and is a lady of culture and high social standing.
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