Hoar, William H. (1856-1922). Disciple of `Abdu’l-Bahá and one of the first Americans to become a member of the Bahá’í Faith. Hoar was born on 22 March 1856, probably in Nova Scotia, though one source gives his place of birth as Massachusetts. He heard of the Bahá’í Faith while residing in Chicago about 1894 or 1895; at that time he was married, had a daughter, Dorothy, and earned his living as a businessman. He is listed as having "received the Greatest Name" on 31 January 1896, making him approximately the eleventh American to become a Bahá’í, according to a membership list compiled in the fall of 1899 in Chicago. Hoar became a very close friend of Thornton Chase before moving from Chicago to Fanwood, N.J., in late 1897. From Fanwood, Hoar became very active in developing the Bahá’í Faith in greater New York City.
In the fall of 1900 Mr. Hoar and his wife Anna, with Arthur and Elizabeth Dodge and Lua and Edward Getsinger, went on pilgrimage to meet `Abdu’l-Bahá. They remained in Akka from 25 September through 9 October. They ate breakfast with `Abdu’l-Bahá almost daily, which gave them the opportunity to ask Him about many controversial questions that Ibrahim Kheiralla had raised, such as the Bahá’í interpretation of biblical prophecies and Christian doctrines and whether the Bahá’í Faith accepts reincarnation. They were present for the commemoration of the Ascension of Bahá’u'lláh, which was celebrated on 4 October (according to the lunar calendar). They also received classes on the Bahá’í Faith from Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl.
Returning home, Hoar was instrumental in forming the first Bahá’í consultative body for greater New York, the New York Bahá’í Board of Counsel, elected on 7 December 1900. Hoar served on the body, forerunner of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of New York City, for many years. He was also an active Bahá’í speaker. At the first Bahá’í national convention in North America, on 23 March 1909, he was elected to the Executive Board of the Bahai Temple Unity, the American Bahá’ís’ national coordinating body; he served on it for three years.
The passing of `Abdu’l-Bahá on 28 November 1921 was a grave shock to him because his love for `Abdu’l-Bahá was intense. His health, already bad, took a turn for the worse, and he died of chronic myocarditis six weeks later, on 9 July 1922.
Bibliography. Little information has been published about William Hoar. Some facts are available in Robert H. Stockman, The Bahá’í Faith in America, Origins, 1892-1900, Volume One (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1985. An obituary "William H. Hoar," by Hooper Harris, was published in Star of the West, vol. 12, no. 19 (2 Mar. 1922), 310-12. His death certificate is on file in the Fanwood, N.J. City Hall. Copies of notes of his pilgrimage to Akka, and notes by his wife, are located in the Green Acre Bahá’í School Library and in the Research Office, Bahá’í National Center, Wilmette, Ill. An account of the pilgrimage of the Hoars, Dodges, and Getsingers is available in Robert H. Stockman, The Bahá’í Faith in America, Early Expansion, Volume Two, 1900-12, chapter three.