Bessie (Williamson) McCartney was born the fifth day of 1917 at the Coffey County, Kansas farm of her parents, A. E. and Laura (Seim/Sime) Williamson. The farm, located between Hartford, in Lyon County, and Strawn, was just upstream from where Eagle Creek meets the Neosho River.
Bessie remembers walking barefoot to the nearby Hamman Grade School. She attended Strawn High School graduating in 1935. Four years later she graduated from Emporia State.