“Broughty Doctor Dies at Smyrna”

At the time of his death, Dr David McKenzie Newton had been a medical missionary for around a dozen years, and was the superintendent at Beaconsfield Memorial Hospital. It seems he also had a wider role, being identified also as “the college physician” by Smyrna’s International College in Paradise near Smyrna, an American educational institution which had been run by missionaries for 25 years.

His death (30 May 1916) from typhus, a family of bacterial infections carried by lice, aka “jiggers”, was probably caught in the course of his work tending patients, including Turkish soldiers, and due to the terrible conditions discussed elsewhere. His death was reported in contemporary newspapers and reports, and the aftermath was the subject of governmental communications (hence, luckily, preserved in the National Archive), as the Church of Scotland (his sponsors) and the families of David and his widow Ebeth attempted to help her in her perilous situation (see here).

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Ebeth Scobbie (1914-1994)

“Ebeth” is a relatively unusual contraction of Elizabeth, compared to the more familiar Beth, Bess, Bet, Betty, Lisa, Liza, Liz, Lizzie, Libby, Lily, Elspeth, Elspet, Ellie and even Lizbet… Normally, for a favourite family name like Elizabeth, close relatives would have differentiating versions, but the Scottish Scobbie family seemed to like “Ebeth”: using it for aunt and niece. It’s not clear if this is because the younger Ebeth’s birth and early childhood occurred while her aunt was in Smyrna, or not. I believe her grandmother (born Elizabeth Bertie Stevenson) was called Eliza, and also by her middle name.

I like this portrait – I think there’s a little bit of attitude. More on the hairstyle below.

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Ebeth Scobbie (1884-1940)

The girl on our left in this picture is Ebeth, photographed with her siblings and parents in Scotland when she was 12 or 13, around 1896. Here is some of her life story. I collected some of this material in 2016, at the time of the centenary of the tragic day on May 30th 1916 when she was widowed, aged 33, in Smyrna (now ─░zmir on the western Mediterranean coast of Turkey), and now a year later, in the days before posting this blog, I finally located and visited her grave in Morningside, a few minutes walk from my home.

Why was she there? What happened to her? Why am I writing about her?

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