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The story of Green Acre itself is intensely interesting. The beautiful property the
rolling meadows, the dear wide-verandahed Inn and, now, all the cottages surrounding
it, together with the Tea House at the entrance leading from the highway and, farther
down the road, the gracious Fellowship House - rises above the Piscataque River,
the River of Light. And it was originally owned by Miss Sarah J. Farmer who was present
at the Chicago Exposition in 1893 when, as we all know, the first mention of the
Baha'i Revelation was made at the Congress of Religions. Miss Farmer became deeply interested in this matter of comparative religions and from that time was inspired to establish a summer school on this property of hers which became later our beloved Green Acre. In the summer of 1904 the brilliant and deeply loved Persian teacher, Abu'l Fadl,
taught there and, of course, Abdu'l-Baha was there for some time during the summer
But before this, before the property became definitely Baha'i property, there had
been a good deal of contention and difficulty. Miss Farmer, after a few years spent
in listening to the various speakers she brought to her summer school, realized that
what the world longed for and what all peoples needed was One Universal Faith - and the
Baha'i Revelation was the only answer to this problem. So, radiantly and with great
certainty, she became a Baha'i. And this was all very well until she announced that
she had made her will leaving her property to the Baha'is. Then her family rose in outrage
and fury. They demanded that she change her will in their favor. She refused. At
which they declared her insane and clapped her into an insane asylum. When the Baha'is heard of this, there was great consternation and horror and grief. That such a dreadful thing could happen to this great and wonderful woman was simply past all belief. But it had happened and something, certainly, must be done about it. They tried to have her released but her family had consigned her, and only her family could release her, and this they refused to do. Then, an appeal was made to have Miss Farmer examined by atieniate to establish her sanity but this, too, could not be done. Other attempts were made - but there was no step that was not balked at by the Farmer family. Finally, in desperation, three Bahais (Harlan Ober and Montfort Milts
were two of them) engineered a most dramatic rescue involving a ladder that took them over the high wall surrounding the insane asylum where Miss Farmer was incarcerated and then another tall ladder leading to her room. She had been told what to expect and she was waiting to be carried down and away.
In the Ober home, Grace also was waiting for the return of the rescuers and the rescued.
In the dark hours of the early morning they all arrived and there was great rejoicing.
Eventually, of course, there was great hubbub and fury raised by the Farmer family
and finally, they dragged the Baha'is into court to have the matter legally settled. The case was brought by John Mitchell who was a most brilliant lawyer and who, at that point, had never lost a case. The Baha'is were represented by Montfort Mills, and the Bah'is won. They won the freedom and safety of their radiant and devoted sister Sarah Farmer and they won Green Acre.
Told to me by Grace Ober
as Green Acre, Summer 1933
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