Grace Washburn Hussey

Honored by:Alice Balassa
Brick location:C:25  map

Born May 18, 1867 in West Bridgewater, Mass. Died May 1969 Presque Isle, Maine. This is the story of a life the life of Grace Washburn Hussey. She was the eldest of five living children of Horace Washburn and Henrietta Edmonds. Horace Washburn was born in Brewer, Maine enlisted on the first day of the Civil War and spent the war years as a prisoner of war in the notorious Libby prison. After an honorable discharge he came home to Brewer.

He met the gentle pretty Henrietta Edmonds at the village well. Together they bore six children of whom lived into their eighties or longer and were all remarkably creative. Due to Horace's chronic depression the family were supported by gallant Henrietta. At six years old Grace was sent to live with her grandmother in Brockton, Mass a poverty stricken textile town at that time. It was a bleak life but warmed by affection and encouragement. From her earliest life Grace showed signs of the woman she was to be. She discovered a milkman who delivered milk in Boston on Saturdays and arranged to go with him on his milk truck on Saturdays. Thereafter she spent glorious days in the Boston Library.

She used that time so well that she became Valedictorion of her class. Written on her High school diploma were the words. "You are capable of great things." After graduation she taught for a year. Then came another demonstration of her qualities so evident to all who ever knew her. At a state-wide meeting of the Christian Endeavor society at which she was a speaker a visiting representative of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago heard her speak.

He was so impressed with her voice and presence that he offered her a scholarship and job working in the slums of Chicago. However after two years a new opportunity for service and adventure opened up and she delightedly embarked on this new adventure. In 1896 the Maine Congregational church conceived what later came to be called the Sea Coast Mission. A sailing vessel was equipped to sail along the rocky coast of Maine putting in at isolated landlocked harbors to service local churches. It was called the Sea Coast Mission and is still operating to this day. But another adventure was in store for her the great one of her life.

In 1898 Charles E. Hussey a potato farmer of Presque Isle Maine read in the local church paper that a Miss Grace Washburn was coming to town to speak on her work at the Sea Coast Mission. He looked at her picture and arranged with his mother that Miss Washburn stay at their house. He was a cautious man not given to sudden decisions. But be listened to her that night. He liked what he saw and liked what he heard. The next morning he proposed to her that "they correspond with a view to marriage."

Grace Washburn liked what she saw and heard and agreed after some period of prayer to start the correspondence. Then began six months of remarkable letters. I found them many years later. They were very serious letters. He said he "would never stand in her light. They had a great deal to talk about: his work and hers the demanding life on the farm the family they both wanted which meant family planning methods of birth control. Finally the way seemed clear.

They were married on New Years day January 1, 1900. Typically their wedding trip was to Washington D.C where they visited the U.S. Congress and met their local representatives. Their union resulted in four children of which I was the only girl--Alice Mabel Hussey. While raising the family they never lost sight of the bigger picture. Her interests grew increasingly national international peace-oriented and world-wide. His were deeply grounded in affairs of the town farm education and health. Together they were grounded in their family and in their religious and social concerns Mother organized the first World Day of Prayer in Presque Isle uniting for the first time there the Protestant Catholic and Jewish women's project particularly dear to her heart.

She was always searching for ways of spiritual and political unity. Her letters to the newspapers and to Congress continued into her 101st year. Truly it could be said of her. "A woman nobly planned to warn to comfort and command."