Grave of Clarissa Bonfoey.

Photo courtesy of Mark Bennett. Source: Find a Grave,

Bonfoey, Clarissa “Clara” (1821–1856)

By Theodore N. Levterov


Theodore N. Levterov, Ph.D., is director of the Ellen G. White Estate branch office on the Loma Linda University campus, as well as a faculty member of the Loma Linda University School of Religion. Levterov served as a pastor both in his native land of Bulgaria and the United States before coming to Loma Linda in 2011. His Ph.D. dissertation at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary dealt with early Adventist understandings of Ellen White’s prophetic gift.

First Published: January 29, 2020

Clarissa “Clara” Bonfoey was a close friend of and housekeeper for James and Ellen White for about eight years. After the death of her parents in 1849, she gave to James and Ellen White all of the furniture belonging to her family and moved in with them in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. Clarissa assisted in the housework and often took care of the children during the Whites’ frequent traveling. The Whites considered her as part of their own family.1 Although she often experienced health challenges, she was known as “a woman of remarkable faith.”2 Ministers often prayed for her physical and emotional healing.

In 1855 Clarissa moved with the Whites to Battle Creek. According to James White, Clarissa had suffered greatly from a disease of the lungs. Later a tumor developed, which seems to have caused her premature death on May 30, 1856, at the age of 35.3 Clarissa’s death was a great loss for the White family. “Poor Clara, yet not poor, sleeps in the cold grave; her loss we deeply feel; it can never be made up; it was so sudden,” Ellen White wrote.”4 Clarissa Bonfoey is buried in the White family plot in Oak Hill Cemetery, in Battle Creek, Michigan.


White, Ellen G. “Appearance of Divine Healing.” Manuscript 147, 1907. Ellen G. White Estate.

———. Ellen G. White to Bro. and Sister Howland. July 15, 1856. Letter 1, 1856. Ellen G. White Estate.

———. Life Sketches of Ellen G. White. Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Publishing Assocation, 1915.

———. Spiritual Gifts: My Christian Experience, Views and Labors in Connection With the Rise and Progress of the Third Angel’s Message, vol. 2. Battle Creek, Mich.: James White, 1860.

White, James. “Clarissa M. Bonfoey obituary.” ARH, June 12, 1856.


  1. James White, “Clarissa M. Bonfoey obituary,” ARH, June 12, 1856, 55.

  2. Ellen G. White, “Appearance of Divine Healing,” manuscript 147, 1907, Ellen G. White Estate.

  3. James White.

  4. Ellen G. White to Bro. and Sister Howland, July 15, 1856, letter 1, 1856, Ellen G. White Estate.


Levterov, Theodore N. "Bonfoey, Clarissa “Clara” (1821–1856)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed June 17, 2024.

Levterov, Theodore N. "Bonfoey, Clarissa “Clara” (1821–1856)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access June 17, 2024,

Levterov, Theodore N. (2020, January 29). Bonfoey, Clarissa “Clara” (1821–1856). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 17, 2024,