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 Clara (Clarissa) <I>Davis</I> Mackie

Clara (Clarissa) Davis Mackie

Death 25 Mar 1904 (aged 72)
Burial Stony Brook, Suffolk County, New York, USA
Memorial ID 19541525 · View Source
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December 10, 1831 – March 25, 1904
Married January 29, 1852
John Hopewell Mackie I (December 10, 1827-January 9, 1909)
Their children:
Lillie Mackie (no dates), Katherine (1867), John Hopewell II (1869), Clarissa (1872) and Charles Dickerson Mackie (1876)

Clara Davis was born in Stony Brook (or Setauket), a small town on the Sound in the middle of Long Island, New York.

Clara is a direct descendant on her mother's side of Philomon Dickerson who founded Long Island in the mid-1600s. It is also purported that Clara's grandmother's, Mary Cleves', line can be traced back to 1630 in Ipswich.

Clara's mother, Deborah Cleves Dickerson, had three sisters. It was to be the youngest of these aunts, Clarissa Dickerson (1810-1885), who held a special place in Clara's heart, as we'll see in the years to come.

Clara was the eldest of five children born to Deborah and James Hervey Davis. As all girls, she might have longed for a sister as each of her three brothers came along.

In the autumn of Clara's 17th year, a tragedy struck the Davis household. Her young father passed away. But as bitter as that must have been, life was sweetened by the birth two months later of Clara's sister, Mary Cleves Davis, born the day after Christmas 1848.

As often is the happy twist of life, this baby became the keeper of the family info, passing along Dickerson/Davis history to her nieces, as well as to the historical societies of the day. Mary Cleves Davis' (married Bates) typed essay on the Dickerson Family in America, December 2, 1914, is seen in the files of the Three Rivers Historical Society, Stony Brook, Long Island, NY. This was reported in the pages of Wesley L. Baker's Dickerson & Dickinson descendants of Philemon Dickerson of Southold, Long Island, NY, page 76, 1978. Without Aunt Mary Bates (as she was known) we'd not be filling these pages so thoroughly. Thank goodness for that Christmas baby, such a bittersweet time for mother Deborah.

At the age of twenty Clara Davis married twenty-five year old John Hopewell Mackie in Stony Brook, Long Island, New York on January 29, 1852, according to his obituary. Stony Brook is right next to Setauket. Clara joined the First Presbyterian Church in Setauket on October 2, 1856. "Mrs. Clarifsa [sic] Mackie, wife of J.N. [sic] Mackie… [was] received into the membership of the church…Mrs. Mackie upon [her] baptism."

Yet to be researched is what Clara and John Mackie did for the next 16 years. Although we do see Clara living at her aunt and mother's Stony Brook house in 1860 along with her youngest brother, Jonas, and her 12 year old sister, Mary. I'll wager, that the little school girl, Mary Cleves Davis, was lapping up the attention from Aunt Clarissa Dickerson over these years. That is probably how Mary knew so much about the family history. Don't you just love those maiden aunts!

It seems that Clara Davis Mackie and her namesake maiden Aunt Clarissa Dickerson must have had a very strong emotional tie as well. This, no doubt, was only enhanced by this stage in her life where they all lived together.

But WHERE'S JOHN MACKIE? There's no mention of Clara's husband John though. Curious. From various city directories we can see that later in their marriage he either was traveling or had various jobs or even no jobs. Therefore this situation of Clara Davis Mackie at home again with no husband may be a pattern.

So we've seen Clara Davis and John Mackie were married in 1852, but their first child was born 15 years later, Katherine Mackie, January 19, 1867, possibly in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

1868 -- the BIG adventure:
Then comes the fantastic adventure of a lifetime. Clara Davis Mackie, 37, packs up her one year old daughter and with her 20 year old kid sister, Mary Cleves Davis, the trio sets out for China. Yes! Makes you wonder if Clara just couldn't stand being separated from her husband. If he had to be in the orient, then by-jingo, so would Clara. That's one way of looking at it. The facts beg the question, for sure.

According to Anne (Nan) R. Mackie Enright Gustin, Clara, Mary, and baby Kate went down the Atlantic coast in a sidewheeler ship all the way to Colon, Panama.

"…the sidewheeler "paddle" steam ships that were prevalent in the mid 19th century, before the
propeller ships took over. [It was] a strange new type of ship …making its appearance…around
this time. It belched smoke and churned up the waters but made great headway, even against the
wind. It was at the cutting edge of technology at the time, it was the sidewheeler steamboat.
Huge paddle wheels on each side of the ship pushed it through the water at a pretty good clip.

It was at Colon, Panama that the 50 mile railroad began which would take them across the Isthmus. Of course the canal, as you remember from school days, was not built until 1914. And truth be told, the Panama railway itself was only 13 years old.

The Panama Railroad was in the height of its heyday. Customers were so pleased to be able to cross the continents that they didn't blink an eyelash at the exorbitant price of tickets, $25 for first-class and $10 for second.

"With the increased revenues, progress manifested itself in every department of the road.
Splendid terminal wharves were erected and many improvements made. New cars and
engines were purchased, hospitals were established and medical attendance was free. A
well equipped library and a billiard hall contributed much to the pleasure of the employee.
It was the Panama Railroad that was administratively responsible for the quaint church
known as Christ Church-by-the-Sea, erected in 1865, and which is today the most picturesque
place of worship on the Isthmus."

However the year before their trip on the Panama Railway, the politics of the day ruled that transport was "free of charge for troops, chief officers and their equipage, ammunition, armament, clothing and similar effects…. In the report for one year after this measure was put into effect we find there were 4,663 first-class paid fares, while 11,098 passengers and 6,601 troops were carried free."

So our trio may have had a most interesting trip indeed. Anne Mackie Enright Gustin continued: From the Pacific side of Panama, the trio caught another sidewheeler ship up the coast to San Francisco. That was a 7,872 mile trip from New York to San Francisco. Amazing! Now why, you may ask, didn't they just take a train across the United States? Because the transcontinental railroad was still under construction and not completed until the next year, 1869. Clara Davis Mackie, Mary Cleves Davis and baby Kate Mackie then took the ship called The Crystal Wave across the vast ocean to Shanghai.

Traveling the more than 6,000 miles to China was a gamble for westerners. Round-trip sea journeys, planned around the monsoon season, lasted many months and were filled with difficulties: at sea there might be pirates, storms, rival merchants, and disease posed constant risks to the venture. While in port there were taxes, bribes, and deceptions. But the possibility of lucrative rewards attracted traders such as John H. Mackie.

The John H. Mackies (and sister-in-law, Mary C. Davis) it would seem lived in the American Concession for seven years.

Marion Cleves Mackie Bush said, "The Shanghai Newsletter December 11, 1872 – has our Great Grandfather's name (John Hopewell Mackie I) and the ship, the Hopewell, I think somewhere there was an allusion to a ship called that, and it seems like too much of a coincidence to be overlooked. ‘... and that foreigner is a citizen of the United States. It may be of interest to our readers to note that the same foreigner acts as an agent for both the above steamers, and that citizen is Mr. J.H.Mackie.'"

1870 San Francisco history of from local newspaper: February 1. Ninteenth [sic] Anniversary of Protestant Orphan Asylum, at Platt's Hall. . . .Minister F. F. Low and family sail for China.

Marion Cleves Mackie Bush recalled in a conversation in 1988, "John Hopewell Mackie II (Marian's father)'s birth: Born in Shanghai, October 19, 1869, Baptized February 22, 1870. The family always celebrated his birthdate on October 7. But a family bible page shows my father, John Mackie, born on October 4th, 1869." Marion then laughed heartily.

Clara Davis and John Hopewell Mackie were graced with another daughter. On February 22 Clarissa (Cal) D. Mackie was born in Shanghai, China. We still have some infant dresses/gowns from Shanghai, say I, Chris Snyder, and used for our Snyder children's baptisms.

Arriving back in Oakland, California, 45 year old Clara Davis Mackie gave birth to her last child, Charles Dickerson Mackie, on April 10. My mother, Anne R. Mackie Enright Gustin, and brother, Paul Logan Enright, and I researched the Mackies in the Oakland Public Library's city directories a hundred years later, amazing! Not having those notes in front of me (ah me, they are hopefully in a box in the attic!), I do recall that the Mackies were listed for more than one year in Oakland. What is quite vivid in our research that one day was that John H. Mackie had several different jobs each year, and they were very odd sounding jobs at that, for instance, maybe a chicken plucker, or some such odd employ. Definitely there is a pattern of hard luck in the job market. Some of us know this all too well ourselves.

According to the U.S. Census for Oakland, California, we find John H. Mackie age 52, and his wife Clara age 48. He is listed as a merchant, and it says that both his parents were born in Scotland. His 13 year old Katie and 10 year old son John H. Jr. and 8 year old Clara were at school, while little 4 year old Charles D. is at home of course.

Presumably then, Mary C. Davis had returned at some point on her own to the East coast. In the 1880 U. S. Census for Setauket, Long Island, New York, there is Mary C. Davis, age 31, listed as a school teacher.

The story goes, according to Anne Mackie Enright Gustin, that they took the transcontinental railroad back east again. With several kids, this must have been another adventurous trip.

I wouldn't doubt that after about 13 years away Clara Davis Mackie would return to their mother's (Deborah Cleves Dickerson Davis') arms and to those of her beloved Aunt Clarissa Dickerson in Long Island.

Mrs. Clara Mackie is living in Bridgeport, Connecticut. [Source: Bridgeport City Directories] But no husband listed. Obviously she had her kids with her, but they were too young to work (Kate was just 16, John 14, Cal would've been 9, and Charlie just 7). By the next year we see that Clara has taken a job as a clerk at a dry goods store, similar to our department stores.

Clara's namesake dear maiden aunt, Clarissa Dickerson, died in April and left all her money and property in Stony Brook to her niece, Clara ("Clarissa") Mackie of Bridgeport. What a windfall this must've been. And yet the next year in Bridgeport we see Clara still working as a clerk at W.B. Hall's dry goods store. This year her husband is listed in the city directory, but no job. In 1886 Clara's two kid brothers, William and Jonas Davis, both died in September. It makes you wonder if it was an illness or accident.

Marion Cleves Mackie Bush said in the 1988 taped interview: "The [Bridgeport] city directory then said that in 1887 Clara and John ‘removed to Setauket, Long Island, NY.' That is where Clara's family lives, the Davis'. Their kids were: Kate 20, John 18, Cal 15 and Charlie 11." The Mackies may have returned in order to help Clara's 81 year old mother? Deborah Cleves Dickerson Davis passed away October 21. How hard for Clara and her sister, Mary, to lose their aunt, their brothers and mother.

Anne (Nan) Mackie Enright Gustin responded to Marion, "At some point or other he [my father Charles Dickerson Mackie] said that he had worked since he was twelve years old. That's when he left school. About 7th or 8th grade. If you look at the chronology just from the Bridgeport City Directory, you'd see why he did leave school. He was born in 1876, that would be 1888 he was 12."

"In 1889 Clara is back in Bridgeport as a cloak maker with Hall's and her twenty year old son, John H. Mackie Jr. is now working at Compressed Paper Box Co. The father is not listed as working until 1892 as a night watchman for H & H Manufacturing [possibly Nan and Chris guess it might be Hatch and Holmes Mfg. Co. makers of cutlery and light hardware, from the 1897 city directory?]. That is about ten years that we don't know what the father did for a living, if anything," wondered Marion Cleves Mackie Bush. I wonder if his health was not good combined with his age. Just guessing.

In the 1890s Bridgeport City Directories we see the entire Mackie family listed and working. But now Clara is not in the City Directory. One could assume that is because they only listed employed persons. However, that theory is disproved, since we see John H. Mackie listed for a few years with no job. Another theory is that maybe Clara went to live with her sister Mary Cleves Davis, I'm just guessing? In any case, Clara's children are grown and working in Bridgeport. The boys marry and move away. The girls stay with parents Clara and John, who pass away in 1904 and 1909 respectively. Our dear Clara Davis Mackie is buried back in her beloved Stony Brook on Long Island. In the Oak Hill Cemetery her grave is to the left, by the family called "Oak." The land for the cemetery was originally owned by a Howard Dickerson. So that might have some connection as to why she was buried there. It says on the stone, "Clarissa Davis, wife of John Mackie, 1831-1904." The plot is deeded to "Clarissa Mackey" we are told by the caretakers of the cemetery. It appears to have two people buried there. Of course it is John Mackie. But it is yet to be determined where their two daughters were buried.

The eldest of Clara's children, Kate Mackie, was only listed with one job at age 26 as a dressmaker. She was known to not like working much. However, she might have tried her hand at having a tea shop at one time. Kate and her sister lived together and never married.

John Hopewell Mackie II eventually becomes a pattern maker. "I doubt if he graduated from high school then during those hard days," recalls his daughter, Marion Cleves Mackie Bush. "He was a wood pattern maker. It was a means of translating a blueprint into a piece of machinery. You had to have the wood pattern first so that the foundry could make a mold into which they would pour the metal, steel most likely." He married Jessie Bernie in 1905, having the one child.

Cal (Clarissa D. Mackie) started out as a stenographer and bookkeeper. She was also secretary at one time to the author of the Nick Carter detective series, Frederic Van Rensselaer Dey (1865-1922). Cal became a writer herself under the pen name Clarissa Cleves. She wrote for many magazines at the turn of the century, serial type of stories.

The little boy born in Oakland, California, on the way home from Asia…well that is my grandfather. Charles Dickerson Mackie He met his wife, Mary Ellen Quinn, in Bridgeport about 1895. They lived twenty years in Worcester, Massachusetts having their six children there. Then they settled in Pittsfield, Massachusetts where Charlie had The Flower Shop on Lowden Street.

Clara's sister, Mary Cleves Davis, did marry, becoming the second wife of Dr. J. Ferdinand Bates (1834-1916). We don't know when they married or where (check out Presbyterian Church in Setauket). They were childless. Two years before Dr. Bates passed away, Mary wrote a typewritten account, the Dickerson Family in America.

Of Note, several family names have been passed down:

Clarisse K. Mackie (Sr.Beata) b. 1901
Marion Cleves Mackie b. 1908
Clarissa Rowen b. 1933
Charles Dickerson Mackie II 1936-1996
John Hopewell Charles Enright 1938-1989
Philip Hopewell Bush b. 1959
Mark Dickerson Bush b. 1964
Andrew Mackie Enright b. 1972

WRITTEN NOTE by Anne (Nan) R. Mackie Enright Gustin:
1868 Clara Davis Mackie (1831-1904) and one year old Katherine Mackie and Aunt Mary Bates (Clara's sister, Mary Cleves Davis Bates, 1848-1932) went with her in a sidewheeler ship down the Atlantic coast to Colon, Panama, Train across isthmus of Panama. Up Pacific to San Francisco in sidewheeler ship. Then to Shanghai on the ship "Crystal Wave." Lived in American Concession until 1875. To Oakland, California, where Charles D. Mackie was born. Came east in 1878 or 1880 to Bridgeport, Connecticut or to Long Island.

Dickerson & Dickinson descendants of Philemon Dickerson of Southold, Long Island, N.Y. also, Long Island descendants of Captain John Dickinson of Oyster Bay / by Wesley L. Baker.
Chicago : Adams Press, 1978.

Thanks to great aunt Mary Cleves Davis Bates, to my mother Anne (Nan) Mackie Enright Gustin, and to my mother's cousin Marion Cleves Mackie Bush

Karen Martin, Three Villages Historical Society, Setauket, Long Island, NY, a wealth of info and encouragement.
Joan Weinstein, Three Villages Historical Society, Setauket, Long Island, NY, info on Cleves

John H. Mackie and descendants: Robert Rowen,

Info compiled by Christine A. Enright Snyder 2003, 2016.

Family Members


There is a stone.





  • Created by: Chris Enright Snyder
  • Added: 26 May 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19541525
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Clara (Clarissa) Davis Mackie (10 Dec 1831–25 Mar 1904), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19541525, citing Oak Hill Cemetery, Stony Brook, Suffolk County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Chris Enright Snyder (contributor 46910196) .