logo Thomas McKay


See Introduction for some general background

Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 16, p.507

Thomas and Ann Cowley Rodgers Mackay were residents of Kirk Michael, Isle of Man. Ann, who had been married previously to William Lanty, had one daughter, Margaret Ellen, at the time of her marriage to Mr. Mackay. Thomas and Ann were converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in 1841 they came to America in the sailing vessel Chaos, arriving in New Orleans where they remained one winter, living near the wharves where Thomas obtained work. The following summer they went by steamboat up the Mississippi River to Nauvoo. Eventually they made their way to the Salt Lake Valley, arriving on September 29, 1847. The family lived in the fort the first winter after their arrival. In the spring of 1848, they moved and took up farming in the southpart of the city. In 1850 they moved again, this time to farm land west of the Jordan River. It was quite a struggle to get the land under cultivation. Irrigation in West Jordan was made possible through the efforts of Thomas and his neighbors.

Elnora Cowley Rodgers, born and raised in the Isle of Man, came to Utah with her daughter Ann, and lived with the Mackay family in Taylorsville. She died September 4, 1853. -Hazel Murphy McRae

John Mackay was the oldest son of Thomas Mackay and Ann Rodgers. He was born in Kirk Michael, Isle of Man, on the 18th of March 1834. He was thirteen years of age when his family, after encountering many adversities and trials, arrived in the Salt Lake Valley September 29, 1847. In 1848 while his family were living in the southern part of the valley, he acquired a span of mules and a yoke of oxen and began hauling logs from the mountains for building purposes and for firewood. He also did freighting to and from the nearest railroad. During the years 1850-51 John went to California in search of gold but became ill and returned home. A friend of his was to bring the gold he had panned to him when he returned to the valley, but while crossing a swamp, the wagon, horses, and all went down in quicksand. At this time many persons lost their lives as well as their gold. Soon after his return from California he was called to fight the Indians in the Black Hawk War. For his long and faithful service he received a medal.

Somewhat more information is available in Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 13, p.333

Thomas Sloan Mackay, Utah pioneer of 1847, was born in Lisburn, County Down, Ireland, July 23, 1810, the son of John and Nancy Sloan Mackay who were both born in Antrim, Ireland. He was the oldest child in a family of three brothers and sisters. Very little is known of his early life. His father was a landowner and a carpenter, and Thomas learned the carpenter trade from him, but he was dissatisfied with the opportunities his home town afforded and after his father's death he set out in search of better employment.

He drifted into the little town of Kirk Mickle,[sic Kirk Michael] County of Germany,[sic !] on the Isle of Man, and being pleased with the town, settled there. About one year later he met and married Ann Cowley Rogers (Lanty), a daughter of Peter Rogers and Elinore Cowley. She was ten years older than he, and had been married before to William Lanty and had a child by him named Margret Ellen who was about six years of age. There were four children born to Thomas and Ann: John, Thomas, Ann and Charles.

In the year 1840 Thomas first heard the Gospel of Mormonism preached by John Taylor. Having just been ordained an Apostle, Brother Taylor had come from the United States as a missionary and was visiting the Isle of Man. When Thomas and Ann Mackay heard him they were converted, and soon were baptized into the Church. Thomas was so delighted with his new religion, he made a trip back to his home in Ireland to visit his people and carry the message to them. When his brothers learned he had become a Mormon, they would have nothing to do with him. He was very disappointed, and returned to the Isle of Man. He, however, persuaded his 11-year-old sister Nancy, who was living with her brothers, to go home and live with him.

On November 8, 1841, with his wife and children, his wife's mother, Elinore Cowley Rogers and his sister Nancy, he sailed from Liverpool, England, in the sailing vessel Chaos for America with Peter Melling, captain. After nine weeks they reached New Orleans in late winter, and lived there nearly two years. Thomas worked on the wharves and saved enough money to take them to Nauvoo, where they made a little home and Thomas went to work as a carpenter and mason on the Temple. They liked this beautiful little city and were very happy to be there with the Saints, although they went through many trials and persecutions. Thomas became acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum, Brigham Young, and other leaders of the Church. His testimony was greatly strengthened and his whole soul was in the work of the Church.

He was privileged to attend the School of the Prophets, or as it was sometimes called the School of the Elders, which was organized in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1833 by the Prophet Joseph Smith for the purpose of instructing the adult members, male, of the Church who were worthy, in the higher education of the Doctrine with the object of preparing them to proclaim the Gospel to the world. Dr. Lynn Bennion in his history of the Church says, "The first class enrolled about sixty members or students. They were commanded to teach one another the Doctrine of the Kingdom and to seek diligently out of the best books words of wisdom. They were instructed in theory, in principle, in doctrine in the law of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God." The program of studies included theology, political science, literature, geography, history, grammar and Latin grammar. Other classes continued to be organized as late as 1873 [sic ?1837].

After coming to Nauvoo, Thomas became interested in the study of wood. He learned the various grains of wood and how to handle it. He learned to make spinning wheels, wagon wheels, the rims and spokes for the wheels, bows for covered wagons, yokes for the oxen, staves for barrels and many other such things. During the winter of 1845-46 he assisted in the construction of several thousand wagons that later carried the Saints on their journey to Winter Quarters. He also learned to dig and rock up wells, many of which he helped to make whereever the pioneers made a temporary home. Some of them remain today as landmarks of the pioneer trail.

In the summer of 1846, when the Saints were driven from Nauvoo, the Mackay family came with Brigham Young's company to Winter Quarters. The group reached Salt Lake Valley September 29, 1847, and went to the fort in Pioneer Square. Not one of these pioneers had received more of a thrill than Thomas Mackay's son Johnnie, a lad of thirteen years. He loved to relate how he drove an oxteam nearly all the way from Winter Quarters for one of the captains. Later, with his tall broad-brimmed hat and high-topped boots, his high-seated wagon and two span of horses, Johnnie clattered about town freighting to and from the nearest railroad. He also drove a span of mules, and used them to haul logs from the canyons for firewood and for building homes.

In the spring of 1848 with a group of other pioneers, the Mackays moved out of the fort and farmed land on the southeast in what later was called Forest Dale. January 9, 1849, Thomas Mackay, John Bennion, Samuel Bennion, Thomas Turbett, William Blackburst, William Farrer, John Robinson and James Taylor crossed the Jordan River on the ice and located near Joseph Harker at what is now about Thirty-third South and Fourteenth West. They made dugouts near the river on land that was later known as Little's Farm and in after years, was owned by Bishop McRae. They moved their families over there and some who had log houses at the fort, moved them over, but it was too difficult to get water from the river onto the land, so they moved about a mile farther south.

Due to the urging of Brigham Young, who told him he would never prosper until he embraced polygamy, Thomas married Charlotte James on June 26, 1853, in the Endowment House. They were the parents of nine children: Hyrum, Margaret, Joseph, Mary Alice, David, Edward, Heber, Ida Charlotte, and Jane Eliza. In September 1853 Elinote Rogers, Ann Mackay's mother died. September 6, 1854, Thomas Mackay's eldest daughter married David O. Calder and went to live in Salt Lake. At the close of the Indian War in 1854 a flour mill was built beside the sawmill. The community now supported a sawmill, a flour mill and a woolen mill. The men brought the timber from the Oquirrh Mountains, and supplied the wheat and wool from their farms.


Manx Note Book      [Genealogy Index]

see Mormon Converts

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