Monday, June 16, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #24 Bessie Douglas Cushnie Ekstrom

My father speaks with great fondness of his stepmother, Bessie Douglas Cushnie. He feels that he and his siblings didn't give her a fair chance to be their new mother. Dad says that she was loving and kind and would have been a wonderful mother, had they opened their hearts to her.

Bessie married Oliver Ernest Ekstrom on October 11, 1932, in Guatemala. They were both missionaries with the Central American Mission. Oliver was a widower with five young children, but courageous Bessie married him anyway and added two more children to the family. The last child, a daughter, was born after Oliver's untimely passing in 1935.

Bessie wrote this in one of her letters home in 1934:
"It will be three years next Sunday since I left the dear old U.S.A. It seems like 10. I guess because so much has happened. Had my appendix out, fell in love, got married & had a baby. I know I haven’t done as much for the Lord as I should have."

Quick drop page from Lock and Key, ClubScrap

Bessie Douglas Cushnie was born on June 19, 1903, in Castle Shannon, Pennsylvania, the third of six children of Charles Christey Cushnie and Sarah Ann Wyllie. Bessie trained as a nurse before going to the mission field.

There are varying accounts of how she and Oliver met and fell in love. One legend was "love at first sight" in Guatemala. Another story is that they met at Moody Bible Institute, but had their relationship disrupted, only to continue it in Guatemala. Regardless, their love story was brief.

After Oliver's death, Bessie worked with the extended families to take care of the five orphaned children. Her youngest child died at six years old, and Bessie herself died on May 08, 1947, leaving her oldest child also orphaned.

Bessie was buried, along with her daughter and her parents, in Oak Spring Cemetery in Canonsburg, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

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