Mackeys Ferry, North Carolina One Place Study

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: About 1730
Location: Mackeys, Washington, North Carolina, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: Washington_County North_Carolina One_Place_Studies
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Mackeys Ferry, North Carolina One Place Study

This profile is part of the Mackeys Ferry, North Carolina One Place Study.
{{One Place Study|place=Mackeys Ferry, North Carolina|category=Mackeys, North Carolina One Place Study}}



Continent: North America
Country: United States
State/Province: North Carolina
County: Washington
GPS Coordinates: 35.931111, -76.614444
Elevation: 2.0 m or 6.6 feet

The community, now known as Mackeys, was first drawn on maps on the south bank of the Albemarle Sound in 1737 and labeled Bell's F.[1] The only other towns shown on the map at this time were those of Edenton, Bath, and New Bern. A path may or may not have connected Mackeys Ferry to Bath, potentially providing a shortcut for trade to and from Edenton. It was later described in Decisions of the United States Geographic Board - July, 1906 to Juy, 1908 as "a village on the southern shore of Albemarle Sound, 4 1/2 miles east of Roanoke River...".[2]

The little-known history of this community can only be pieced together by the people that came here and put their own touch on the timeline that is Mackeys.


1700 - 1799

Land grants along Kendricks Creek seemed to have begun around the 1780s. Roughly 17,000 acres of land were granted in area to ten individuals.

1800 - 1849

1850 - 1899

1900 - 1949

Railroad comes to town

The railroad came to Mackeys Ferry in 1906.[3] This was the Virginia and Carolina Coast Railroad Company and included a barge that floated railroad cars across the Albemarle Sound to Edenton. Norfolk and Southern Railway purchased the Virginia and Carolina Coast Railroad Company, along with several other shortrail companies, a year later leading to a single railroad company that would serve the vast portions of Eastern North Carolina.[4]

Mackeys was to become a central junction for many of shortlines connecting to the eventual mainline that ran to Norfolk and Washington. This included connecting the nearby communities of Columbia and Belhaven using shortlines that met up at Mackeys Ferry.[4]

The mainline that ran north towards Norfolk crossed the Albemarle Sound using a ferry that had a terminous in Edenton. This was replaced in 1910 when Norfolk and Southern Railway built a trestle to join the two shores of the Sound.[5]

1950 - 1999


Atkinson Family

"William Atkinson Sr (b. ca. 1813) and William Atkinson Jr. (b. ca. 1837) lived in the same household at or near Mackeys Ferry in 1860. Eighth Census, 1860: Washington County."[6]

Bell Family

George Bell was born in Durham, England in 1629 and moved to the Colony of Virginia sometime prior to 1650. They lived in Isle of Wight, Colony of Virginia and had several children. It is believed that one of his daughters married and had a son named William Mackey and lived in the North Carolina Colony. Thomas Bell was likely running the ferry service, then known as Bell's Ferry, that provided service across the Albemarle Sound to Edenton, and was taken over by William in 1735.

Davenport Family

William Smith Davenport, son of Tully Davenport, was born in Tyrrell County in 1859. His first child, William Blount Davenport, was born in Plymouth, Washington, North Carolina, just a few miles west of Mackeys in 1885. The next child, Benjamin Tully Davenport, seems to have been born in Mackeys in 1886. Could this have been the initial Davenport family to come to Mackeys?

Mackey Family

William Mackey owned a plantation in then Tyrrell County(?) and took over his uncle's ferry service around 1735. He married Joanna Swain and had several children.

Swain Family

William Andrew Swain, I believe, co-owned the general store with William Blount Davenport. Mr. Swain's great-great grandfather's sister Joanna Swain married William Mackey in the 1700's. William Mackey owned a plantation in Tyrrell County and, in 1735, operated a ferry boat service across the Albemarle Sound from present-day Mackeys to Edenton. This was an operation that it seems he took over from his mother's side of the family, of whom were Bells. This likely explains the "Bell's Ferry" annotation on a 1737 map of present-day North Carolina and, later in 1770, the area now showing Mackeys Ferry on a similar map.


Research Notes

School in Mackeys was the Aycock Graded School.

Land Grants

The following people received land grants along Kendricks Creek in Tyrrell County:


  1. Cowley, John Moseley, Edward, "A New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina drawn from the Original of Colo. Mosely's.", 1737, London, England
  2. United States Government. Decisions of the United States Geographic Board - July, 1906 to Juy, 1908. Washington Government Printing Office, 1908.
  3. According to a photo album by William Smith Davenport
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Big Railroad Merger in East Carolina." The Landmark, March 30, 1906.
  5. Citation Needed
  6. Hedrick, John A. Letters from a North Carolina Unionist: John A. Hedrick to Benjamin S. Hedrick, 1862-1865. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 2001. pp 212.

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