June 8, 2016

May Maxwell (1870-1940) – “that candle of the love of God”; “'Abdu'l-Bahá's beloved handmaid”; “the distinguished disciple”; a “martyr’s death”; “glorious sacrifice”; her name is mentioned in the Tablets of the Divine Plan

The just words, the words always to remember, were cabled by Shoghi Effendi: "'Abdu'l-Baha's beloved handmaid, distinguished disciple May Maxwell (is) gathered (into the) glory (of the) Abha Kingdom. Her earthly life, so rich, eventful, incomparably blessed, (is) worthily ended. To sacred tie her signal services had forged, (the) priceless honor (of a) martyr's death (is) now added. (A) double crown deservedly won. (The) Seven-Year Plan, particularly (the) South American campaign, derive fresh impetus (from the) example (of) her glorious sacrifice. Southern outpost (of) Faith greatly enriched through association (with) her historic resting-place destined remain (a) poignant reminder (of the) resistless march (of the) triumphant army (of) Baha'u'llah. Advise believers (of) both Americas (to) hold befitting memorial gathering."
–Shoghi Effendi (Cablegram, March 3, 1940; ‘Messages to America’)

…Shoghi Effendi once said to her [May Maxwell), one night when he came to dinner in the Western Pilgrim House after our union, that had I [Ruhiyyih Khanum] not been May Maxwell's daughter he would not have married me. This does not mean it was the only reason, but it was evidently a very powerful one, for in the cable he sent on 3 March 1940 officially announcing her death, which had taken place two days before, he said "To sacred tie her signal services had forged priceless honour martyr's death now added. Double crown deservedly won." These words clearly indicate her relationship to his marriage. In a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to one of her spiritual children He had written "her company uplifts and develops the soul". Until I came under the direct influence of the Guardian, through being privileged to be with him for over twenty years, I can truly say that my character, my faith in Bahá'u'lláh and whatever small services I had so far been able to render Him, were entirely due to her influence. From these facts it will be seen that when I arrived with my mother, on my third pilgrimage to Haifa, in January 1937, the status of my father inside the Faith can best be described as being "Mrs. Maxwell's husband".
- Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, (‘The Priceless Pearl’)

She was born in Englewood, New Jersey, on January 14, 1870, the daughter of John B. Bolles and Mary Martin Bolles, in descent American through many generations. Her early years were spent in the Englewood home of her maternal grandfather, a man distinguished in New York's banking world. She had one brother, Randolph, whom she loved deeply and whose attraction to the Baha'i Faith, as evidenced in the last year before his death in 1939 (by his translation into English of the French footnotes of Nabil), gave her supreme content.

January 13, 2016

Albert R. Windust (1874- 1956) – “Herald [of the] Covenant”; the first publisher of the Writings of the Faith in America; the founder of Star of the West; assisted with the publication of ‘Promulgation of Universal Peace’, and the first five volumes of 'The Baha'i World', 1926 to 1934

"Deeply grieved passing much loved greatly admired staunch ardent promoter Faith, Albert Windust, Herald Covenant, whose notable services Heroic Formative Ages Faith unforgettable. Assure friends relatives fervently supplicating progress soul Kingdom.

Albert Robert Windust was born on Chicago's west side near Hull House on March 28, 1874. His parents were Thomas and Sarah Sheffield Windust. His father was a printer, who, shortly after Albert was born, moved with his family to a section of Chicago known as Woodlawn. They were members of the Episcopal Church. Mrs. Windust, a school teacher and a very active church worker, was the founder of the First Christ Church of Woodlawn (Episcopalian). 

In his early years, Albert Windust was not physically strong and this may have accounted for the fact that he had very little formal schooling. He was tutored in his early years by his mother and entered a public school at the fourth grade level. He ended his formak education in the sixth grade. Despite this, Albert Windust during his life attained a depth of knowledge and spiritual wisdom reached by very few.

At the age of fourteen Albert became an apprentice in the printing firm where his father worked. The following November his mother died. His interest in nature awakened a desire to draw, and he became a pupil at Chicago's Art Institute. Through associations made in the printing business, he illustrated stories of many authors, including Opie Read and H. Rider Haggard.

November 7, 2015

John Henry Hyde Dunn – Hand of the Cause of God; a “veteran warrior (of the) Faith of Baha'u'llah”

John Henry Hyde Dunn was born in London, England, the son of a consulting chemist. In early childhood he was dandled upon the knee of Charles Dickens, and was amused and entertained by Cruikshank, the famous illustrator of Dickens' works. As a young man, after engaging in business in Great Britain and on the continent, he immigrated to the United States.

While waiting in a tinsmith's shop in Seattle, Washington, he overheard two men speaking. One man quoted these words of Baha'u'llah, "Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country, but let him glory in this, that he loves his kind." Mr. Dunn interrupted the conversation by saying, “Surely these words are a message from God." The speaker turned, and, including Mr. Dunn in the conversation, gave the message of the Baha'i Revelations.

Mr. Dunn accepted the truth of the Baha'i Revelation immediately and it was not long before he and Mr. Ward Fitzgerald, the one who had brought him the Message, were traveling together, doing business and spreading the Faith. At one time they took advantage of a brief period of unemployment to journey to Walla Walla, Washington, where they held meetings for this purpose. This journey necessitated extreme economy on the part of the teachers so that they were often obliged to go hungry. A certain lady, who remained after one of the meetings to learn more about the great Message, soon learned, as she talked with the two teachers, that they were as hungry physically as she was spiritually. She tactfully insisted on offering them hospitality and spread a bountiful meal for them.

March 8, 2015

Holmfridur Arnadottir (1873-1955) -- Iceland’s first Baha’i; the translator of Dr. Esslemont’s Baha’u’llah and the New Era into the Icelandic language; the only Icelander Baha’i for 30 years until her passing

Holmfridur Arnadottir has been accorded by the beloved Guardian the station of Iceland’s first Baha’i. From her first contact with the Faith in 1924 until her passing in 1955, she was alone in her realization of the mission of Baha’u’llah, the only Icelander to hail the glad tidings of the New Day. Far this and far two memorable services she will ever be honored in Icelandic history. She was the translator of Dr. Esslemont’s Baha’u’llah and the New Era into the Icelandic language, an enduring work of the greatest significance at this time when the Cause is beginning to prow in Iceland under the momentum of the Ten-Year Crusade. And she served tirelessly and with great devotion our greatest Baha’i teacher, Martha Rout, during her unforgettable visit to Iceland for one month in 1935, bringing her into contact with many leaders of thought end paving the way for Martha’s public work through lectures, newspaper articles and radio talks.

The Message of Baha’u’llah came to Miss Arnadottir through Mrs. Amelia Collins, who with her husband visited Reykjavik for two days in 1924. “Iceland made a holiday of the landing of our cruiser,” Mrs. Collins has recalled, as it was the largest to have entered the harbor to that date. Martha has written of this historic meeting in these words: “One should begin any saga, any article about Iceland with the name of Einar Jonsson; he is the greatest soul in Iceland today... It may have been only a coincidence, but it is like a confirmation from God that it was in this lofty Einar Jonsson Museum that the Milly-Holmfridur flower of friendship was first planted in Iceland.” It was the planting of the divine seed in Iceland, beautifully and loyally tended by Milly for over thirty years; and the association of these two spiritual sours warmed and cultivated this vital Northern land for the rich harvest which even today may be glimpsed and confidently anticipated.

After a long and rich life devoted to humanitarian and spiritual endeavor, Holmfridur passed to the Abha kingdom at the age of eighty-two, in Reykjavik, on November 25, 1955. She was truly a universal soul, gifted with the assurance of the New Day dawning upon humanity, and Iceland in centuries to come will look back to her as to the morning star. 
(by Marion Hofman, ‘The Baha’i World 1954-1963)

November 9, 2014

Henrietta Emogene Martin Hoagg (1869-1945) – “exemplary pioneer (of the) Faith”; typed the voluminous manuscript of 'The Dawn-Breakers' at Shoghi Effedi’s request; first confirmed believer in California

“Emogene," as she was familiarly known to the Baha'is, was born in the small California mining town of Copperopolis on the 27th of September in the year 1869. Her father, Dr. Martin, having died when she was very young, and her mother having remarried, she went to live with an aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. William Henry Wright, in San Francisco, where later she was graduated from the Irving Institute, a select boarding school for young ladies of those days.

In her early twenties Emogene married John Ketchie Hoagg, who died in San Francisco in 1918. A few years after her marriage Emogene went to Europe to pursue her musical studies, remaining there several years.

Upon her return to California she visited at the home of a family friend, Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst, in Pleasanton, and it was there, in 1898, that she first heard of the Baha'i Faith. Dr. and Mrs. Edward Christopher Getsinger had come from Chicago hoping to interest Mrs. Hearst in the new Revelation. Emogene was so attracted by Mrs. Getsinger's earnest manner that she sought daily lessons with her, resulting in Emogene's instant acceptance of the Faith. Concerning this she wrote:

“My interest augmented from lesson to lesson. The first commune, ‘O my God, give me knowledge, faith and love,' was constantly on my lips, and I believe those Words from the Fountain of Eternal Lip awakened my soul and mind to a faith that has never wavered."

In this way Emogene became the first confirmed believer in California.

April 19, 2014

Adelaide Sharp – “dedicated [and] steadfast promoter [of the] Cause”; principal of Tarbiyat School for girls; the first woman to be elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran

Born in Texas in 1896, Adelaide Sharp spent her childhood in Mexico, moved in company of her mother to California to pursue her studies, and after graduation from college took up teaching work in the Italian quarter of San Francisco. Her father, Horace M. Sharp who died during Adelaide's infancy, was a Christian but Adelaide, when still young, received the Message of Baha'u'llah from her mother, Clara Sharp - a devoted Baha'i - and accepted it.

In 1929, when the distinguished Baha'i, Dr. Susan I. Moody, who was then seventy-seven years of age, undertook to emigrate to Persia a second time at the Guardian's request, she received his permission and hearty approval to take Adelaide along with her to serve at the Tarbiyat School in the capital. The two pioneers covered the first stretch of their journey by ship to the Holy Land where the glory of pilgrimage to the Holy Shrines for twelve precious days was heightened by the guidance and spiritual strength received from the beloved Guardian, a bounty that would be their mainstay during the long and difficult years ahead.

Proceeding thence by the overland route to Tihran, Adelaide settled in her post as the school's principal on arrival and discharged her duties with exemplary diligence until the school was closed down. Ruhangiz Fath-'Azam and Ishraqiyyih Dhaih collaborated with her in this arduous task and were her unfailing support throughout this period.

After some two years' stay in Tihran, Adelaide asked the Guardian if she might invite her mother over, too. Shoghi Effendi assented readily and graciously cabled instructions to America for Mrs. Sharp's travel to Tihran, and so it was that Clara Sharp found herself working in the cradle of the Faith beside her daughter in the field of Baha'i education.

When the school was closed down, Adelaide Sharp stayed on in Persia on the Guardian's advice and gradually organized classes for boys as well as girls to study writings in English such as Baha'i Administration, The Promised Day is Come, The World Order of Baha'u'llah and other superb works from the Guardian's inspired pen. Many young Baha'is from these classes have since risen to eminence in service to God's Faith within and without Persia's borders.

December 14, 2013

Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad (Ibn-i-Asdaq) – Apostle of Baha’u’llah and Hand of the Cause; in a Tablet in his honor Baha’u’llah mentions for the first time the concept of the 'Hand of the Cause'

Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad was born in Mashhad in circa 1850. He was the youngest son of the Hand of the Cause Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas-i-Khurasani, who fought at Shaykh Tabarsi and was tortured with Quddus in Shiraz. Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas was given the title Ismu’llah’u’l-Asdaq by Baha'u’llah, and as his son showed many of his outstanding qualities, Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad became known as Ibn-i-Asdaq, son of Asdaq.

In 1861, while Ibn-i-Asdaq was still a young boy, he was taken by his father to Baghdad to see Baha'u'llah. The visit lasted two years and made a made a deep impression on him. During their stay in Baghdad Baha'u'llah revealed a prayer for Ibn-i-Asdaq:

'I ask Thee, O my God! to give him to drink of the milk of Thy bounty so that he may raise the standards of victory through Me, -a victory which is Thine - and arise to serve Thy Cause, when he groweth up, just as, when a youth, he hath arisen at Thy Command'. [1]

On his return to Iran Ibn-i-Asdaq and his father were arrested on the orders of the governor of Khurasan. They and two other Babis were chained and taken to Tihran. The intention was to execute them but the government ordered instead that they be imprisoned in the Siyah-Chal. Here they remained, chained together, for 28 months.

June 30, 2013

Alfred Eastman Lunt – “esteemed beloved Lunt”; “a precious, ardent and capable champion of our beloved Faith”; “the living embodiment of such a rare combination of qualities as few can display and none can surpass”

Alfred departed this life on August 12, 1937, at his home in Beverly, Massachusetts. His immediate family-a widow and five children, and a host of friends mourn his loss. His funeral was attended by his relatives, neighbors and visiting Baha'is from Green Acre and neighboring centers. The service in its simplicity, contained the solace of Heavenly Teachings and prayers, and proved to be a means of teaching others the Faith that he loved.

The National Spiritual Assembly, on August 16, 1937, received the following cablegram from the Guardian:

"Shocked distressed premature passing esteemed beloved Lunt. Future generations will appraise his manifold outstanding contributions to rise and establishment Faith Baha’u’llah American continent. Community his bereaved co-workers could ill afford lose such critical period so fearless champion their Cause. Request entire body their National representatives assemble his grave pay tribute my behalf to him who so long and since inception acted as pillar institution they represent. Convey Boston community assurance prayers, deepest brotherly sympathy their cruel irreparable loss."

He was for more than a generation one of the most distinguished and useful servants of Baha’u’llah. He was well prepared by college and legal education at Harvard University. As a student he heard the Great Message from Dr. 'Ali-Kuli Khan, lecturing in the University. He obtained from it a life and inspiration toward achievement. He had very unusual abilities which shone in the field of writing and in his chosen profession, the law.

April 29, 2012

Effie Baker – the first Australian woman to become a Baha’i; one of Australia’s foremost woman photographers; her photographs were chosen by the Guardian for inclusion in Nabil’s narrative, ‘The Dawn-Breakers’

Euphemia Eleanor Baker was born the eldest of 11 children to parents John and Margaret, on March 25, 1880, at Goldsborough. Some of her grandparents had arrived in Australia in the great migrations of the 19th century. Her father’s father, Captain Henry Evans Baker, was born at White Hills, Kent, in England, in 1816, and had moved to New York. Captaining a sea-collier, Henry Baker was in the port of Melbourne in 1852 when gold fever struck his crew. The prospect of making one’s fortune on the gold fields was so enticing that Captain Baker could not find enough men willing to leave Melbourne, and thus form a new crew. He solved his dilemma by selling his boat and joining the rush to inland Victoria.


The captain was thick-set, dark-complexioned, portly and jolly in appearance. He was inventive and technically minded, and on the voyage to Australia had even constructed a dynamo to light his cabin. He is reported to have constructed in 1855 the first Chilean Mill on the Bendigo gold fields -- a system in which a horse pulled a stone wheel in a circular motion in order to crush rock in the quest for gold. He had an interest in astronomy, and won a silver medal in a Melbourne exhibition of 1873. He achieved some fame when he was selected to re-polish the mirror of the great Cassegrain telescope at the Melbourne observatory. In 1886 a telescope made by Captain Baker for the newly opened Oddie Observatory at Ballarat was used for the first time.

Captain Baker’s wife, Euphemia McLeash, came from Cooper Angus in Scotland, although the two were married in New York. A brother, William McLeash, went into partnership with Captain Baker on the gold fields. Captain Baker and his partners, Robert Dodd, William McLeash and Samuel Crozier, discovered and opened Bealiba Reef (the Queen’s Birthday Reef), taking a lease on the last day of 1863. They soon created a 4 horsepower engine on the site and the first crushing yielded 77 ounces of gold. At this time, the Bakers were probably squatting in a calico house next to the mine.

Another reef, the Goldsborough, was discovered in 1865, and Captain Baker bought a house near it in 1868. Goldsborough had only been established in 1854, and grew to be a thriving town of 70,000 people. But these were living mostly in semi-permanent calico huts, the prospectors shifting with the rumors of new gold fields. The streets were named “Pick,” “Shovel,” “Windlass” and the like, emphasizing the town’s functional nature.

Childhood and Youth

December 24, 2011

Siyyid Mustafa Rumi (c.1846-1945) -- Hand of the Cause; distinguished pioneer of the Faith; staunch high minded noble soul; his resting place is the foremost shrine in the community of Burmese believers

Siyyid Mustafa belonged to a noble family of Baghdad, ‘Iraq. His father had settled in Madras, India. He was brought into the Faith through the efforts of Sulayman Khan Ilyas, popularly known a Jamal Effendi, the first Baha’i teacher sent by Baha’u’llah to India in 1875.

Jamal Effendi was an untiring, devoted and renowned travel teacher who, dressed as a dervish, roamed the Ottoman territory in order to attract souls to the Cause of God. It happened that a few members of the Afnan family had established themselves in Bombay and had set up a printing press on which the first volumes of Baha'i writings were published. Realizing the Indians were receptive to the Faith, they petitioned Baha’u’llah to send a Baha’i teacher of knowledge and experience. Their petition coincided with Jamal Effendi’s second pilgrimage to 'Akka. Baha'u'llah instructed him to go to India

After reaching Bombay, Jamal Effendi, travelled throughout India, teaching the Baha’i Faith. Owing to his dignified bearing and dress, he was perceived as a man of culture and thought. He showed the people genuine friendship and love. His talks were attractive and his manner of listening admirable. People of diverse backgrounds sought enlightenment from him. Thus he attracted many people to the Cause.

In Madras, Jamal Effendi encountered a young man, Siyyid Mustafa-i-Rumi who was in his early twenties and had come to Madras to help his aged father in his business. Rumi who was very attached to Islam was also very spiritual and careful in the observance of his religious duties. The moment, therefore, he came in contact with the commanding personality of Jamal Effendi, he was attracted to him right away.

April 2, 2011

Agnes Baldwin Alexander (1875-1971) – Hand of the Cause; “the daughter of the Kingdom”, and “the beloved maid-servant of the Blessed Perfection” (‘Abdu’l-Baha); the only Hand of the Cause mentioned in the Tablets of the Divine Plan; The first Baha’i to set foot on Hawaiian soil; the first Baha’i to settle in Japan; and the first Baha’i to teach the Faith in Korea.

"At this time, in the island of Hawaii, through the efforts of Miss Alexander, a number of souls have reached the shore of the sea of faith! Consider ye, what happiness, what joy is this! I declare by the Lord of Hosts that had this respected daughter founded an empire, that empire would not have been so great! For this sovereignty is eternal sovereignty and this glory is everlasting glory." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan)

In the Kitáb-i-Íqán, Bahá'u'lláh makes the statement that were anyone to reach the station of the True Seeker, he would “inhale at a distance of a thousand leagues the fragrance of God, and would perceive the resplendent morn of a divine Guidance rising above the dayspring of all things.” (Baha’u’llah, ‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah’, p. 267) Many more than a thousand leagues away from 'Akka, the abode of the Blessed Perfection, a little girl in far-off Hawaii dreamed of serving Christ, but in her own words: "His life seemed far away from me, and I always felt that something was lacking, that I had never been reborn." If ever a child was blessed with a brilliant and noble heritage it was this little girl, Agnes Baldwin Alexander, destined herself to become a star even more illustrious than any of her famous forebears.

Agnes's grandparents on her mother's side were the Rev. and Mrs. Dwight Baldwin who sailed from New Bedford, Massachusetts, with the fourth company of missionaries sent by the American Board of Missions in 1831. "My dear mother," Agnes would say, "was born in a grass house." On her father's side, her grandparents were the Rev. and Mrs. William Patterson Alexander, who arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1832 after a voyage of 186 days. One need only read James Michener's “Hawaii” to realize what hardships these newly wedded servants of Christ were forced to endure on the decrepit, overloaded whaling ship of that era.

November 23, 2010

Juliet Thompson -- “outstanding, exemplary handmaid (of) 'Abdu'l-Baha”; “so wholly consecrated (to) Faith (of) Baha'u'llah”; and “fired (with) such consuming devotion (to) Center (of) His Covenant”

"Deplore loss (of) much-loved, greatly admired Juliet Thompson, outstanding, exemplary handmaid (of) 'Abdu'l-Baha. Over half-century record (of) manifold meritorious services, embracing concluding years (of) Heroic (and) opening decades (of) Formative Age (of) Baha'i Dispensation, won her enviable position (in) glorious company (of) triumphant disciples (of) beloved Master (in) Abha Kingdom. Advise hold memorial gathering (in) Mashriqu'l-Adhkar (to) pay befitting tribute (to the) imperishable memory (of) one (was) so wholly consecrated (to) Faith (of) Baha'u'llah (and) fired (with) such consuming devotion (to) Center (of) His Covenant.
(signed) Shoghi
December 6, 1956

At an early age Juliet became interested in painting. She studied at the Corcoran Art School in Washington and at seventeen was doing portraits in pastels professionally. By the middle 1890's, when in her early twenties, she had already made a name for herself.

Around the turn of the century the mother of Laura Clifford Barney invited the young artist to come to Paris for further study. Juliet went accompanied by her mother and brother.

It was there that she met May Bolles – the first Baha'i on the European continent – and through her, accepted this new Faith. Mrs. Barney wrote of Juliet that she had accepted it "as naturally as a swallow takes to the air.''

October 18, 2010

Jinab-i- Fadil (1880(?)-1957): Mirza Asadu’llah Fadil Mazandarani -- 'Abdu'l-Baha's “gift to America”: “the ideal sage”; “Next to his honor, Mirza Abu’l Fazl, he is the best informed of his contemporaries”; “… is perfect in all the grades in knowledge and virtue, in sincerity of intention, in beauty of character, in severance from aught else save God and attraction with the fragrances of God.”

Excerpts from some Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha:

His Excellency, the ideal sage, Fazel [Fadil] Mazindarani, is the essence of humility and submission. God willing, with Manucher Khan, he has reached the United States under the protection of the Almighty. This respected soul is evanescent in the Cause of the Blessed Perfection. He is wise, well informed and a thinker. There is no doubt that he will become the cause of the exhilaration, rejoicing and the guidance of others. You must exercise toward him the utmost respect and consideration, and placing your hands in each other's, become ye engaged in the promotion of the Word of God. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet dated circa June, 1920; Star of the West, vol. 11, December 1920, pp. 263-264)

His honor Fazel is a revered person. He has been growing for a long time in the Cause. Next to his honor, Mirza Abu’l Fazl [Fadl], he is the best informed of his contemporaries. He has no aspiration save service to the Cause of God. He is a scholar, he is appreciative and grateful to thee. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet to Roy Wilhelm dated August 9th, 1920; Star of the West, Vol. 11, December 12, 1920, p. 257)

His honor Fazel [Fadil], in reality, is perfect in all the grades in knowledge and virtue, in sincerity of intention, in beauty of character, in severance from aught else save God and attraction with the fragrances of God. Truly I say, he is the manifestation of this blessed verse: "I do not ask ye any reward. Verily my reward is with God, the Lord of the two worlds. It is written: 'If for the sake of thy self sacrifice thou desirest a compensation, the compensation which is given by His Holiness the Almighty is the best of all.'” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet received by Star of the West on 20 July, 1920; Star of the West, Vol. 11,December 12, 1920, pp. 256-257)

September 4, 2010

Thornton Chase (1847–1912) – A Disciple of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, designated by the Guardian as “the first to embrace the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh in the Western world …”

“The stout-hearted Thornton Chase, surnamed Thabit (Steadfast) by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and designated by Him ‘the first American believer,’ who became a convert to the Faith in 1894”, along with” the immortal Louisa A. Moore, the mother teacher of the West, surnamed Liva (Banner) by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Dr. Edward Getsinger, to whom she was later married, Howard MacNutt, Arthur P. Dodge, Isabella D. Brittingham, Lillian F. Kappes, Paul K. Dealy, Chester I. Thacher and Helen S. Goodall …will ever remain associated with the first stirrings of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in the North American continent.” These souls “stand out as the most prominent among those who, in those early years, awakened to the call of the New Day, and consecrated their lives to the service of the newly proclaimed Covenant.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 257)

Thornton Chase became a Baha’i in Chicago in 1894 through a colleague friend by the name of William F. James --according to his life-long friend Carl Scheffler. Thornton’s friend had apparently met a Baha’i earlier by the name Ibrahim Kheiralla who had recently come to America from Beirut and had settled in Chicago. Thornton was reportedly writing a poem about God when his friend entered his office and intrigued by what he was doing told him of a man who claimed that God recently "walked upon the earth." The person who made such a claim, Thornton was told, was Ibrahim Kheiralla. Ibrahim Keiralla had further indicated to Thornton’s friend that Baha’u’llah was the new Messenger of God and that His coming had fulfilled all biblical prophecies. Thornton became very interested to meet Ibrahim Kheiralla and subsequently joined a small group of Chicagoans to study the Bahá’í Faith with Kheiralla. The class was apparently organized on June 5th, 1894.

July 21, 2010

Marion Jack – an “immortal heroine”, and a “shining example (to) pioneers (of) present (and) future generations (of) East (and) West”

Cablegram from the Guardian:

Mourn loss (of) immortal heroine, Marion Jack, greatly-loved and deeply-admired by 'Abdu'l-Baha, (a) shining example (to) pioneers (of) present (and) future generations (of) East (and) West, surpassed (in) constancy, dedication, self-abnegation (and) fearlessness by none except (the) incomparable Martha Root. Her unremitting, highly-meritorious activities (in the) course (of) almost half (a) century, both (in) North America (and) Southeast Europe, attaining (their) climax (in the) darkest, most dangerous phase (of the) second World War, shed imperishable luster (on) contemporary Baha'i history.

(This) triumphant soul (is) now gathered (to the) distinguished band (of her) coworkers (in the) Abha Kingdom: Martha Root, Lua Getsinger, May Maxwell, Hyde Dunn, Susan Moody, Keith Ransom-Kehler, Ella Bailey (and) Dorothy Baker, whose remains, lying (in) such widely scattered areas (of the) globe as Honolulu, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Tihran, Isfahan, Tripoli (and the) depths (of the) Mediterranean(Sea) attest the magnificence (of the) pioneer services rendered (by the) North American Baha'i community (in the) Apostolic (and) Formative Ages (of the) Baha'i Dispensation.

Advise arrange (in) association (with the) Canadian National Assembly (and the) European Teaching Committee (a) befitting memorial gathering (in the) Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. Moved (to) share with (the) United States (and) Canadian National Assemblies (the) expenses (of the) erection, (as) soon as circumstances permit, (of a) worthy monument (at) her grave, destined (to) confer eternal benediction (on a) country already honored (by) its close proximity (to the) sacred city associated (with the) proclamation (of the) Faith (of) Baha'u'llah.

Share message all National Assemblies.


Haifa, Israel,
March 29, 1954.

Marion Jack, "immortal heroine," "shining example to pioneers," passed from this life on March 25, 1954, in Sofia, Bulgaria, where she had been living for twenty-four years as a pioneer of the Baha'i Faith. Her remains are buried in the British cemetery there. The Guardian's tribute, expressed in his cablegram of March 29, attests the high station which this "triumphant soul" has attained.

May 22, 2010

Louis Gregory – First Hand of the Cause of Negro race; “noble-minded”; “golden-hearted”; “pride (and) example (to the) Negro adherents (of the) Faith”

by, Harlan F. Ober

"Profoundly deplore grievous loss dearly beloved, noble-minded, golden-hearted Louis Gregory, pride (and) example (to the) Negro adherents (of the) Faith, keenly feel loss (of) one so loved, admired (and) trusted (by) 'Abdu'l-Baha. Deserves rank (of) first Hand (of) his race. Rising Baha'i generation African continent will glory (in) his memory (and) emulate his example. Advise hold memorial gathering (in) Temple (in) token recognition (of his) unique position, outstanding services."
Cablegram received August 6, 1951.

Dearly loved, universally respected Louis G. Gregory passed away on July 30, 1951. Although he had been frail in body for many months, the luminous spirit and great heart were so apparent, so overwhelming, that none anticipated his sudden departure.

Only a week before, he had arranged and carried out a meeting in his home in Eliot, Maine, where he discussed the prophecies in the Bible, with their import for these perilous times. The dozen or more who gathered there will forever treasure this meeting which proved to be his last. Seated at his desk, his warm and radiant smile welcoming everyone, with his indescribable spiritual dignity, a manifest evidence of the world in which he lived, he carried on the meeting with joy and radiance.

His body was laid to rest in the burying ground at Eliot, Maine. On Wednesday afternoon, August 1, a Memorial Service was held at Fellowship House in the large room which was filled to overflowing, not only with the members of the Eliot Baha'I Community but also with the many friends who were attending the Green Acre Baha'I School. In this room he had conducted teaching meetings, fireside groups and conferences on race amity, the subject so close to his heart, and it seemed fitting that in this beautiful spot the prayers of the friends should pour forth in gratitude for such a wonderful life lived in their midst, and in supplication for his eternal progress.

May 9, 2010

Dr. Genevieve Lenore Coy (1886-1963), second director of the Tarbiyat School for girls in Tihran; "Fortitude, patience, detachment and integrity are the qualities that best describe the life and service of this devoted, highly competent and faithful maidservant of Baha’u’llah." (Borrah Kavelin)

by, Dorothea Morrell Reed

Dr. Genevieve Coy, for more than half a century, served the Baha’i Faith selflessly and unceasingly with distinction in a wide variety of roles, as pioneer, teacher, administrator and author. To have known Genevieve Coy was to have found a confidant and friend, and to have had one's horizon expanded beyond the limitations of self. She was keenly interested in the spiritual capacity within the individual, the creative energy with which the Teachings tell us all men arc endowed, and through her written articles and spoken discourses Dr. Coy endeavoured to bring others to this awareness of their latent capacities..

Before she came into contact with the Baha’i Faith in I911, Dr. Coy composed a poem, "Let Me Know Life", published in the early Baha’i magazine, Star of the West (Vol. XXI. No. 4, July 1930, p.101), of which the editors wrote: “It was as if she had previously reached out subconsciously for truth and had arrived at an attitude of mind and spirit which made the truth of the Baha'i Cause a complete fulfillment of her spiritual aspirations.” One felt that Genevieve Coy's Baha’i service was her grateful response to that fulfillment.

Of the many articles contributed by Dr. Coy to Baha’i publications over the years, none is more precious than the account of her pilgrimage to the Holy Land, made between September 1- 8, 1920, in company with Mabel and Sylvia Paine , and Cora Grey. Genevieve recounts this visit in several Issues of Star of the West (Vol. XII, Nos. 10-13, Sept.-Nov. 1921, pp. 163-214) From her touching word portrait of the Mater is derived, too, a portrait of Genevieve Coy:

April 18, 2010

Agnes Parsons (1861-1934) – She arranged the first “Amity Convention”, termed by the Master "the mother convention", for unity of the colored and white races in America

by, Mariam Haney      

“Greatly deplore loss distinguished handmaid of Baha'u'llah. Through her manifold pioneer services she has proved herself worthy of implicit confidence reposed in her by 'Abdu'l-Baha. Advise American believers hold befitting memorial gatherings. Assure relatives heartfelt sympathy, prayers." (Signed) Shoghi (Cable to National Spiritual Assembly)

"The dress was destroyed, but the one who wore the dress is living." These words are part of a wonderful teaching on immortality which 'Abdu'l-Baha gave to Mrs. Parsons when she supplicated for a word from Him for a friend who was inconsolable because of the passing of a dear one. It seems appropriate now in connection with the going away of our dear sister herself, for in this world "she proved herself worthy of the implicit confidence reposed in her by 'Abdu'l-Baha," as stated in the cable about her from our Guardian.

On Friday, January 19, 1934, at about six p.m., Mrs. Parsons was crossing a street alone and was knocked down by a passing automobile. A serious illness followed, and finally on Tuesday night, January 23rd, about midnight, she ascended to the world of eternal, radiant light and life. "The human spirit comes from God and to Him it returns."

Mrs. Parsons, we are informed, had reached the age of seventy-three years, a long and eventful life which, as far as all earthly measurements are concerned, seemed full of promise for many more years of service.

The only child of General a d Mrs. Royal, Mrs. Parsons was born into and lived in what at that time was considered a beautifully sheltered world. Until middle age when she first became a Baha'i she had never known nor associated with anyone outside of her own immediate circle. The absolutely miraculous creative effect of the Revealed Word of Baha'u'llah was never more pronounced than in the unfoldment of this great soul into a devoted and loyal follower of the Risen Sun of Righteousness and Truth.

March 16, 2010

Mirza Abu’l-Fadl Gulpaygani (1844-1914) -- one of 19 Apostles of Baha’u’llah, a “very excellent and erudite Bahá'í teacher”, and recognized as the most outstanding scholar of the Baha’i Faith

“Pure souls, such as Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, upon him be the Glory of God, spend their nights and days in demonstrating the truth of the Revelation, by adducing conclusive and brilliant proofs and expanding the verities of the Faith, by lifting the veils, promoting the religion of God and spreading His fragrances.”
(‘Abdu’l-Baha, from a Tablet to an individual believer; the Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 409)

by Ish’te’a’l Ebn-Kalanter, 1914

Mirza Abu’l-Fadl was born in 1844 in Galpaygan, a small Persian town founded by Humay, the daughter of Darius [an ancient Persian king]. The family to which his parents belonged was one of the most distinguished of that city, and, even to the present time [1914], is well known for learning and knowledge. [His given name at birth was Muhammad, but later in life he became known as Abu'l-Fadl, which means the father of virtue. After he became a Baha’i, Abdu'l-Baha frequently addressed him as Abu'l-Fada'il, which means the father of virtues] His father, Mirza-Reza, was one of the most noted Shi'ite doctors of religion in Persia; he died in 1871, at the age of seventy.

In the prime of youth, Mirza Abu’l-Fadl traveled to Isfahan and Iraq, with the object of perfecting his studies. Even in his boyhood he was noted for intelligence, sound memory, and diligence in discovering subtle scientific points, to such an extent that these qualities seemed to the people supernatural.

Before he was twenty-two years of age, Mirza Abu’l-Fadl had perfected himself in the branches of Arabic learning, such as grammar, rhetoric, etymology and composition; although Arabic is a foreign language to Persians. In accordance with the wishes of his father, he also acquired a perfect knowledge of Mohammedan theology and laws. At the same time he studied mathematic, algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy according to the Ptolemian system. He also mastered the Aristotelian as well as the rational Mohammedan philosophy.

February 1, 2010

William Sutherland Maxwell – Hand of the Cause of God, Architect of the Arcade and Superstructure of the Shrine of the Bab, Father-in-Law of Shoghi Effendi (1874-1952)

Cablegram from Shoghi Eflendi, Guardian of the Baha’i Faith:

With sorrowful heart announce through National Assemblies Hand of Cause of Baha’u’llah highly esteemed dearly beloved Sutherland Maxwell gathered into the glory of the Abha Kingdom. His saintly life extending well-nigh four-score years, enriched during the course of 'Abdu'l-Baha’s ministry by services in the Dominion of Canada, ennobled during Formative Age of the Faith by decade of services in Holy Land, during darkest days of my life, doubly honored through association with the crown of martyrdom won by May Maxwell and incomparable honor bestowed upon his daughter, attained consummation through his appointment as architect of the Arcade and Superstructure of the Bab's Sepulcher as well as his elevation to the front ranks of the Hands of the Cause of God. Advise all National Assemblies hold befitting memorial gatherings particularly in the Mashriqu'l-Adkar in Wilmette, and in the Haziratu'l-Quds in Tihran.

Have instructed Hands of the Cause in United States and Canada, Horace Holley and Fred Schopflocher, to attend as my representatives the funeral in Montreal. Moved to name after him the southern door of Bab's Tomb as tribute to his services to second holiest Shrine of Baha’i World. The mantle of Hand of Cause now falls upon the shoulders of his distinguished daughter, Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih, who has already rendered and is still rendering no less meritorious self-sacrificing services at World Center of Faith of Baha’u’llah.

Haifa, Israel,
March 26th, 1952.