“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.