Emogene Hoagg was a pioneer before the term was coined. She was a traveling teacher in days when travel was far more expensive and uncomfortable and difficult than now. She was fortunate to have wealth to finance those long sea voyages, and to allow her to give her full time to teaching; to make pilgrimage after pilgrimage to the Holy Land, when it was almost a necessity to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for information, due to the lack of translations of the Tablets and Books of Bahá’u’lláh.
Emogene Martin, at twenty, married a well-to-do engineer, John Ketchie Hoagg, son of a New York Dutchman, who had made a fortune in flour mills. By the winter of 1944, when she came to spend nine months with us in Chevy Chase, Maryland, she had been traveling for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for forty-seven years. Now, a widow whose health was broken by repeated heart attacks and bouts with pneumonia, whose fortune was almost expended, she retained a mind and spirit so vibrant and alert that it was difficult to believe she was seventy-seven years old.
Her eyes fascinated me. They were of a gemlike blue, that flashed with brilliance. I came to believe that their brilliance was due to a half century's contemplation of the Holy Face of her beloved Master, whom she had visited so many times in both ‘Akká and Haifa; and to her keen and creative intellect as it applied itself to her monumental compilation, The Three Conditions of Existence: Servitude, Prophethood and Deity — that fruit of her life, the labor of love upon which she labored for many years, sick or well, finishing it only a few days before her death. After her passing I offered to type this manuscript and it was mailed to me in a bulky leather satchel. It took me four years to type it, check the thousands of scriptural references with the texts, and correct all four copies.
During the time she was with us, Emogene was often ill. As she lay on her pillows, frail and white, her writing materials put away for a while, I would sit in her room and ask her about her life, and take notes.
By birth and temperament, Emogene Hoagg was endowed with the qualities that made her one of the great Bahá’í teachers. Her maternal ancestor, John Drew, migrated to the American Colonies from England on the Mayflower; her grandfather, George Zacharias Hodges and his wife, Eliza, left their comfortable Boston home to settle in the frontier state of Virginia, where he became a Colonel in the southern army. Her father, a medical doctor, left Nashville in 1848, during the gold rush, to make the long sea voyage around the Horn to California. He never returned East. He married Maria Frances Hodges, and settled in a little mining town called Copperopolis, where Emogene was born September 27, 1869.
She was religious from childhood, she told me, although her parents had no church affiliation, a most unusual independence in those days of orthodox conformity. There were two churches in town, the Catholic and the Congregationalism She joined the latter, attended regularly, and played the piano for the services.
As she grew older, her faith underwent a change. Disturbing questions began presenting themselves to her mind as she sat through the long sermons on Sunday mornings. Why did the good God of all men love only Christians? This did not seem right or just since He had created all of the other people too. Although she continued to attend church as usual, her faith was shaken by these inner promptings, and she began thinking of herself as an agnostic.
At eighteen, she went away to school to San Francisco, where she entered the Irving Institute, a fashionable seminary for young ladies. She studied voice and languages, both of which she continued through private lessons after her marriage. She became quite a linguist during her later Bahá’í travels, speaking and writing Italian, French, German, Spanish and even Persian. She translated Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, Wisdom of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Hidden Words into Italian; helped with the translation of the Kitáb-i-‘Ahd and the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá into German; and assisted with the French edition of Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era.
After several years of childless marriage, Emogene persuaded her husband to allow her to accompany a family friend to Milan, and to continue her voice studies in Italy for a year. It was upon her return home in 1898, while on a visit to Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst, the wife of Senator George Hearst, in Pleasanton, California, that Emogene found the answer to all her early religious questionings, and the Cause that directed her every thought and activity for the rest of her life. Lua and Edward Getsinger were also guests in the home, and it was through them that she learned of the coming of the new Messenger for this Day, and of His explanations of all the contradictions and perplexing spiritual problems that had beset her in her teens. She was one of the fortunate souls, she told me, who could recognize the truth instantly and, accepting it wholly, never again be troubled by doubts.
In a time when it was difficult to know the true Teachings in depth because of the absence of printed literature, the believers were dependent upon word-of-mouth instructions from the pilgrims on their return from the Holy Land. Many misconceptions and half-truths were circulated, sometimes unintentionally, causing great divisions and crises among the tiny American communities.
Before her first pilgrimage Emogene was caught in the middle of one of these tempests, prompted by the disobedience of the Syrian doctor Ibrahim Khayr’u’lláh, who came to Chicago in 1894 to lecture on the Faith. Khayr’u’lláh was a dynamic speaker, a magnetic personality, and he was able to attract many seekers. Emogene heard of his fascinating expositions on the return of Christ and went to Chicago to attend them.
In his lectures Dr. Khayr’u’lláh called ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the Reincarnation of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of reincarnation was very popular, particularly among the Theosophists who attended his classes. He hoped to make Bahá’ís of these people by incorporating their doctrines into his talks, although he was warned by the other Bahá’ís, as well as by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to stop teaching this erroneous theory. Instead of altering his approach, he wrote a book called Babu’d-Din, further elaborating his doctrine. Finally, he determined to take his book to ‘Akká, hoping to persuade ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to endorse it. In 1898 he was invited by Mrs. Hearst to join her party on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
When he returned to Chicago, his book rejected and under instructions to discontinue his teaching, he turned away from the Faith, taking others with him. It was a time of sifting. The faithful, who remained unshaken, became the nucleus of the true believers in America.
Emogene, whose faith was unshaken, rounded out the story with a footnote: Mrs. Khayr’u’lláh, the wife of this deluded doctor, also made the pilgrimage and wrote from ‘Akká, "Forget everything you have been taught except that Bahá’u’lláh came and has passed away. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Center of the Covenant, is here, but He is not the reincarnation of Jesus Christ."
It was a relief, Emogene told us, to leave America and return to Milan. Forced to seek another voice teacher she went on to Paris where, to her delight, she found the first French group of Bahá’ís. This little community, founded by May Ellis Bolles, pioneer to that country, and devoted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s every word and wish, was a haven of peace and unity after America. Here she met Helen Cole, who invited her to accompany her and Alma Albertson on pilgrimage. In November 1900 they set sail for Haifa.
At this time the Holy Family was living in the House of ‘Abbúd in the town of ‘Akká. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent his carriage, drawn by three horses and driven by the devoted Isfandíyár, to Haifa to meet the pilgrims. They were to proceed directly to the Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh at Bahjí, some miles along the coast, before meeting Him in ‘Akká. As they drove along the shore the ladies chanted prayers. At the Tomb, they were met by the Greatest Holy Leaf and Zia Khanum, the eldest daughter of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who lovingly welcomed them and led them into that holy spot.
Later at the door of His house in ‘Akká, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá welcomed them with great warmth and love. The bedroom into which she was ushered was decorated with utmost simplicity. Its only furnishing was a cot. Here, she slept for ten nights in perfect comfort, unconscious of anything lacking. Those were days of bliss, surrounded by the kindness of the ladies of the household and of the Master, who met with them every day, instructing them in the divine Message bequeathed to a dying civilization by His Father.
Toward the end of the visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called Emogene to Him and told her He wished her to go to Port Said, where the noted Persian scholar Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl would instruct her in the Bible and the Bahá’í interpretation of this Holy Book. Upon arrival at Port Said she began her lessons with the teacher whom ‘Abdu’l-Bahá loved and admired so dearly that He entrusted him with the instruction of many of the infant communities of the West. She met with him twice a day for a month. Her studies were carried on through interpreters.
"It was not without difficulty that I got the explanation," she later wrote. "Sometimes Nur'u'lláh Effendi would give me the meaning in Italian, and at other times Ahmad Yazdí Effendi would translate into French. Then I would put their words into English. After about two weeks Anton Effendi Haddad was sent to Port Said, and he translated directly into English." (The Bahá’í World, Vol. X, p. 520.)
These lessons set the pattern for all her future service in the Faith. She became henceforth a student of the Holy Scriptures, not only of the Bahá’í and Judeo-Christian Dispensations, but also of the other world religions so little known in the West at that time. So faithful was she in her studies that the Guardian later called her "the most erudite of her generation."
Returning to Europe from Port Said in February 1901, she stayed for a short while in Paris. She told us of one day spent with the friends in the apartment of Marie Hopper. It was decided to meet for a whole day of prayer and chanting the Greatest Name ninety-five times ninety-five. When she arrived, she found a curtain hung in the middle of the room, the women seated on one side and the men on the other. Just why the people of the New Day should want to perpetuate the old Eastern custom of segregation of the sexes Emogene could not fathom, but being a newcomer she quietly took her seat and began to pray. When recounting this story Emogene laughed on remembering that the chanting was interrupted at noon for lunch.
But soon she was filled with the desire to see her family and share with the friends in America her great experiences in the Holy Land. What was her joy on the steamer homeward bound to find Lua Getsinger's name on the passenger list. They had a delightful trip together and many heard of the coming of the Messenger of the New Age.
When she landed in New York, she learned that Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl had been sent to America to teach and was at Green Acre, the estate near Eliot, Maine, which Miss Sarah Farmer had that year converted into a new kind of institution based on the Bahá’í Message. He had been sent to counteract the harm done by Dr. Khayr’u’lláh. With her friend, Helen Cole, she spent some time at Green Acre before crossing the continent.
Back in San Francisco she found a group of the friends meeting in the home of Mrs. Helen S. Goodall and her daughter, Ella Cooper, in Oakland. Under her tutelage, regular weekly classes were established. Later, when the Goodalls went on pilgrimage, Emogene conducted these in her own home, adding a second weekly meeting for deeper study.
Teaching during those first years was slow. It was generally felt that meetings should be made very sacred, so the Faith would not become one of the "isms" flowering profusely in America at the turn of the century. The Message was spread guardedly by word of mouth. Publicity was considered worldly and even dangerous. The fanatical and prejudiced shunned the Bahá’ís, refusing to contemplate such revolutionary, even sacrilegious ideas, and associate with these socially unacceptable people. Although in the Western Hemisphere the believers were not physically harmed, nor was their property pillaged and confiscated as in the East, yet they endured, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had predicted, a mental and emotional torture and a social ostracism. Emogene was fortunate that her mother, sister and brother-in-law joined the Faith, but there is no record that her husband ever became a Bahá’í.
In the absence of Mrs. Goodall in November of 1907, Emogene represented California at a consultation meeting in the home of Mrs. Corinne True in Chicago. Nine communities responded to the call for the purpose of initiating the Bahá’í Temple work. Mrs. True has recorded: "Emogene's flaming spirit of devotion was one of the pioneer pillars to accomplish that great step in the progress of the Faith in this country."
In 1912, during the great event of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's American tour Emogene was with Him as often and for as long a period of time as she could manage. She begged Him to include California in His itinerary and she felt that it was she who finally persuaded Him to make that long, tiring journey. While He was there she served Him in every capacity within her power and called herself His "bell boy". She was with Him for His three-week visit to the beautiful mountain summer resort in Dublin, New Hampshire, at the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Parsons. From there she followed Him to Green Acre where He spent much of His time "countering the effects of the eccentric ideas being disseminated by various pseudo-mystics and cranks who were attracted to the free platform provided there." Upon ‘Abdu'l-Bahá’s return to the Middle East she wrote almost at once for permission to follow. When permission arrived she was ill and bedridden, but insisted on starting out immediately nonetheless. Her husband refused to allow her to travel alone, so she invited a friend to accompany her, and they set out for Alexandria, Egypt, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and His secretaries had rented a house for a period of rest before proceeding to the Holy Land. When Emogene arrived, she was still weak and ill. She asked the Master if He would be good enough to give her a remedy. He sent her two baked apples, with instructions to eat them at once. She did; seeds and all. Then she went to bed and slept soundly. The next morning she was quite well.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Himself weary and depleted from His two years in Europe and America, lingered in Egypt trying to build up His strength before facing the accumulated work awaiting Him at home. This was seemingly impossible, as pilgrims arrived constantly and had to be accommodated and entertained. He was never alone or free from demands. He could never refuse one who came to Him for whatever purpose. When He Anally responded to the pleas of His own family in Haifa to return, He sent Emogene and two or three other pilgrims ahead to help prepare for His arrival ten days later. Of this event, Emogene has written:
"In ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's house there is a very large central room, around which are the other rooms, and in it Persian rugs were spread and tables placed, upon which were fruits and sweets. When ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's voice was heard as He entered, the moment was intense; and as He passed through to His room, all heads were bowed. In a few moments, He returned to welcome all. He sat in a chair at one end of the room, and most of the believers sat on the floor. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was tired, so remained for a short time, and after a prayer chanted by His daughter Zia Khanum, went to His room.
"Then the ladies vacated so that the men might enter. To see the faces of those sturdy, earnest men — faces that spoke the fervor of their faith, the earnestness and resoluteness of their purposes — was something to remember. I am sure not an eye was dry; old and young, with happiness filling their hearts, could not refrain from exhibiting their emotions. He welcomed them, and seating Himself on the floor, spoke to them a short time, after which He retired."
With the Master again in residence, Emogene told us, life commenced again, revolving around its Center who ruled with love. This time Emogene remained a member of the Household for nine months. In July 1914, she was sent in the company of a brother of Munirih Khanum to London on a delicate mission. They were to explain to the English friends that Dr. Aminu'llah Farid had been cut off from the Faith and was not to be allowed to hold further meetings. This man, who had been in the entourage all through the American tour as translator, had displayed "erratic and damaging behavior . . . soliciting of money" against ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's commands, estranging seekers and believers alike from the Cause. Now, he had gone to London without permission to become a leader there.
Emogene was still in London when war broke out in early August. Unable to return to Europe, she joined the other Bahá’í women in Red Cross work until December when Mrs. Thornberg Cropper advised her to cross the Channel and join Lady Blomfield in Paris, where she was working at the American Hospital. By Christmas, she was back in Milan helping in war work. But under the strain of poor food and overwork her health again broke and she decided to return to America. There, in her home in San Francisco, she settled down for three years. When her husband passed away in 1918, she sold her home and set out on the travels which ended only with her own death in 1945.
‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets of the Divine Plan were unveiled at the National Convention of 1919. In the preface to the printed Tablets Horace Holley wrote: "The most notable responses made to these Tablets were the unique services of Martha Root in Latin America, Europe and the Orient, by Mr. and Mrs. Hyde Dunn in Australia, and by Mrs. H. Emogene Hoagg and Marian Jack in Alaska."
With the Canadian artist from the Province of New Brunswick, Marian Elizabeth Jack, Emogene sailed for Alaska in July 1919. This was to be the first extensive trip by Bahá’ís to that "vast country . . . that spacious territory," as it was described by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 9) They arrived in Nome on July 26 and began to plant seeds. A long leisurely trip up the Yukon aboard the "Julia B" followed. Sometimes, the little steamer made only one mile an hour, but everywhere they pulled up, even for a few minutes, the two women would hop ashore and leave pamphlets with as many people as they could speak to. If the stop were long enough, they would go into the shops, visit the hotels and lodge halls, the movie theaters and restaurants. At Tenana, a Chinese restaurant owner became so enthusiastic that he began passing out pamphlets to all his customers, saying, "This is very good! You read! Do you lot of good!"
Marian Jack left the speaking to Emogene. Marian, herself, attracted the people by setting up her easel in the street and drawing portraits. She would turn and say, with a winning smile, "Did you ever hear of the Bahá’í Cause?" When they said no, she would wave toward Emogene, "Go over and talk to Mrs. Hoagg, she can tell you all about it!" And they would go and ask.
In Anchorage, Emogene spoke at the Women's Club, the City Club, before the Pioneers, at the movie theater, and in the High School Auditorium. In Sitka she and Marian attended a masked ball, interesting a number of the guests during the dancing and intermissions. At Wrangell, their lecture hall was Atta's Barber Shop, whose proprietor was a devout Bible student. At Fairbanks and Dawson, they made a few contacts; but in Juneau the doors opened wide. It was during the Christmas holidays and they were invited everywhere; to parties, dinners, and a New Year's Eve reception given by Governor and Mrs. Riggs. Everywhere they spoke of the Bahá’í Message. That same evening they were joined by Mrs. Georgia Grayson Ralston of San Francisco who stayed with them until they began their homeward journey, sailing February 24 from Vancouver. Recalling those eight months that took her six thousand miles, filled with effort and excitement, Emogene was satisfied that all Alaska had heard the word Bahá’í. There were newspaper stories in every town along the way. As follow-up they wrote to all their contacts, sending literature. In her Alaska travels, Emogene Hoagg, musician, linguist, intimate of European salons and cultural circles around the civilized world, displayed that "adaptability and determination in meeting the problems of life" so highly praised by her old friend, Philip Sprague, in his written tribute following her passing. I too admired these traits years later, when, old and ill, she readily adapted to life in my family of three children, a cat and a dog.
In the spring of 1920 she again sailed for Haifa to report to her beloved ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. One day He called her to Him and asked her to tell Him about the Faith in America. After recounting some of her experiences and observations she asked Him why there was not more unity among the American Bahá’ís. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá laid His hand on a book beside Him, and said, "In this book is a story of a man who went to a doctor for treatment. He told the doctor his symptoms. First, he told him of the pains in his head, and of his not being able to sleep. To which the doctor replied,
'That is due to old age.'
"Then, the man told him that he had a great deal of pain in his stomach, and couldn't digest his food. The doctor replied,
'This is also due to old age.'
'Oh, but my arms and legs and back pain me constantly,' said the man testily. And the doctor said,
'This, too, is old age.'
"Then the man grew very angry, and asked how it was possible that a doctor, who had studied for years to learn how to cure people of their ills, had nothing more to say to a patient than that his illness is due to old age.
"And the doctor replied,
'Your anger, too, is due to old age.' "
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, rising, replied to Emogene's question as to the cause of the lack of unity in America,
"The condition in America is due to lack of steadfastness." And He strode out of the room.
When relating this story, Emogene added,
"Steadfastness means faith, knowledge, obedience."
After six months in this blessed spot, Emogene was again summoned by the Master who told her that He wanted her to proceed to Naples and begin her pioneer teaching in Italy.
"But, Aga!" protested one of His daughters who was present, "Emogene doesn't know anyone in Naples. She will be all alone!"
"God will be with her!" He replied calmly.
Upon her arrival in Naples Emogene found it was all too true. She knew no one. Lonely months passed before an opening presented itself to speak of the Faith. It came in the form of a letter from a member of the famous Borghese family of Rome, inviting her to come to that city and hold a meeting. This contact had been made by a mutual friend, and proved of great importance to the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh in Italy. Signora Borghese arranged for an evening in her own home, an ancestral palace, to which she invited about twenty people to hear the Bahá’í Message. On the way out after the lecture one of the guests, a Count, stopped Emogene, expressing his appreciation for the Message and admiration for her courage in delivering it. He asked her how she had been able to get into "this black stronghold", meaning Roman Catholic. He called upon her shortly afterwards and invited her to speak at his mother's home.
Arriving there she found a room full of men only. The Count's mother came in to greet her, but did not remain. This group was made up primarily of socialists, who displayed marked interest. From this lecture a follow-up materialized when she was given the address in Naples of General Piola Caselli, who extended another invitation for a meeting in his sister's home. Signora Orlando invited twenty-five or thirty of her friends to hear about the new religion. So, in a short while, the Message had been delivered to three widely different strata of Italian society: the old Catholic aristocracy, the modern intellectuals with army connections, and the social-idealists.
Soon, a call came to speak at a center for University students in Naples from which she formed a weekly study class at her hotel. Other openings came in Milan and Torino and a few people accepted the Bahá’í Faith. It was in Torino, on November 28, 1921, that she received the cable from the Greatest Holy Leaf, "The Master has passed away."
Broken-hearted, she cabled for permission to go to Haifa. It was granted. As the funeral took place immediately she was not there in time, but arrived before Shoghi Effendi, accompanied by his sister and Lady Blomfield, arrived from England.
In Haifa grief and confusion overwhelmed the household. "It was terrible to go to Haifa and not see ‘Abdu'l-Bahá there," Emogene later told us. "He had been the law that pervaded every decision, every act of family and friends. His daily habits were the pattern around which their lives were woven. It was everyone's love for Him that made this possible, and kept the routine on its orbit."
In the words of Shoghi Effendi and Lady Blomfield:
"The eyes that had always looked out with loving-kindness upon humanity, whether friends or foes, were now closed. The hands that had ever been stretched forth to give alms to the poor and the needy, the halt and the maimed, the blind, the orphan and the widow, had now finished their labor. The feet that, with untiring zeal, had gone upon the ceaseless errands of the Lord of Compassion were now at rest. The lips that had so eloquently championed the cause of the suffering sons of men were now hushed in silence. The heart that had so powerfully throbbed with wondrous love for the children of God was now stilled. His glorious spirit had passed from the life of earth, from the persecutions of the enemies of righteousness, from the storm and stress of well-nigh eighty years of indefatigable toil for the good of others."
In a letter describing this time, Emogene wrote:
"For the first week after getting here, I had no head to use for anything; but since then, have been very busy helping in the translation of some important Tablets . . . Lady Blomfield is here, and is now compiling an accurate account of the few days prior to the Beloved's departure, of the cortege up the mountain to the Tomb of the Báb, and the fifth, ninth and fortieth days after the ascension."
Shoghi Effendi was there by this time and, though weak and ill with grief, restored order and purpose to their lives. I find in my notes:
"For the public reading of the Will and Testament, which took place on the fortieth day after the passing, notice was sent to the surrounding countries; people came from Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, America, England, Germany, and Persia. At least a hundred men of the Cause arrived. The house was got ready. Rugs were put on the floor, flowers decorated the rooms and halls, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's picture was hung.
"On the day appointed, January 7, 1922, the Bahá’ís assembled in the home of the Master. Among them, seated in the central hall, were five or six American and English women, Emogene among them. The oriental women sat in a side room out of sight, but near enough to hear.
"As ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's secretary read the Will, sounds of sobbing were heard. The impact was tremendous. Emphasis had been placed on the suffering that had been endured because of breakers of the Covenant.
"All present accepted the terms of the Will appointing Shoghi Effendi Guardian. There seemed to be no dissenting voice. The family and the old believers alike accepted this young man of twenty-four as their leader and the Head of the Universal House of Justice, because it was ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's wish: 'The one who opposes him . . . verily, he opposes God.' "
The reading of the Will over, the visitors and pilgrims returned to their homes, leaving the young Guardian alone to administer the world-wide affairs of the infant Faith of God.
Shortly, the Guardian asked Emogene and other seasoned teachers and servants of the Cause to come to Haifa to confer with him. Among them were Montford Mills and Roy Wilhelm from America, Laura and Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney from France, Consul and Alice Schwarz from Germany, and Major Tudor Pole, Lady Blomfield and Ethel J. Rosenberg from England. Emogene stayed on as long as she felt she was needed. When she left for Europe, one of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's daughters, Munavver Khánum, went with her. Their first stop was Swartzveld in the Black Forest of Germany, where they rested and took the baths. Later, they visited Frankfort, Berlin and Stuttgart.
Back in Italy, where she knew ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wanted her to concentrate her teaching, Emogene established herself in Rome and began holding meetings for students. The next year, 1923, she moved to Florence, remaining in that ancient city of art and beauty for three years. Here, she lived in a pension high on one of the lovely hills overlooking the Arno, and it was in the garden of this house that she entertained her guests and gave them the Teachings. Unlike most of the Florentines whose ears were deaf to the call of the New Day one became a devoted believer and co-worker, Signora Campani, who helped translate Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era and Wisdom of 'Abdu'l-Bahá into Italian. Another guest of note was the sister of Archdeacon Townshend of Ireland, and another was the Marquesa Maccarani, an English woman married to an Italian. "It was not the Italians, but the Americans who were the race most ready for the Teachings," she told us, "as it is a hybrid race, with no strong ties to the past as in older nations." In 1928 she obtained Shoghi Effendi's permission to join Miss Julia Culver in Geneva, Switzerland, where an International Bahá’í Bureau had been established. This office was the center and distributing agency for the entire European community, linking it with Haifa and each other. Messages from Shoghi Effendi reached first and then were dispatched to all European centers. Books and pamphlets published in America reached their destination through the Geneva office. Two paid secretaries were kept busy full time. Miss Culver financed it and Emogene managed it.
The Bureau was housed in an attractive large room on a main city street. A good library was kept well stocked, not only with Bahá’í publications, but with books on philosophy and science, on international affairs and social movements. It was designed to interest the many visitors attached to the more than sixty international organizations with offices in Geneva. The Bahá’ís cultivated this diverse and stimulating international community, exchanging lectures, teas, and receptions throughout the years. A monthly bulletin was published by the Bureau between 1927 and 1935.
In 1931 Emogene was summoned to Haifa by Shoghi Effendi to assist him with typing and preparing the manuscript of The Dawn-breakers, which he had translated into English from the original Persian, and was preparing for publication. Upon completing that arduous and important task she returned to Geneva and remained there until 1935.
A reduction in the budget of the Bahá’í Bureau made it necessary to move the office to smaller quarters and reduce activities. Emogene felt the time had come for her to make a change and find new fields of service. In retrospect she recalled those years in Geneva as most exciting and productive in making the Faith known to people of capacity and influence.
Shoghi Effendi encouraged her to return to America, where he told her she was needed to deepen the believers. He particularly wanted her to teach new believers about the Administrative Order. Under the direction of the National Teaching Committee she traveled through the Middle West and the South. She also visited Montreal where I had the privilege of attending her classes in the late 1930s. She taught at Louhelen School, Green Acre, Washington, D.C., and Greenville, South Carolina.
At the age of seventy-three, she accepted an assignment to Cuba under the Inter-American Committee. She learned to speak Spanish and taught in Havana with much effect.
Following the Cuban mission Emogene suffered a heart attack while visiting in California. She was never well again. She stayed in California until 1943, convalescing. But when she heard that one more person was needed to form an Assembly in Greenville, South Carolina, she came South.
In May 1944 she was able to attend the Annual Convention and the Bahá’í Centenary celebration commemorating the birth of the Bahá’í Era. In September she moved to Washington, D.C. and became the guest of Miss Leone Barnitz, from whose home she came to us later that fall.
The entire nine months she was with us she was confined to bed. She got up occasionally for small deepening classes we arranged for her. We hoped these classes would help improve her health, as she told us she never felt well except when teaching. Often she was seriously ill with bronchial pneumonia. She would cough her life away for days. We would cable the Guardian for prayers as was the custom in those days, and she would seem to improve. Then, pale and thin, her blue eyes glowing, she would ask for her writing material and books. Propped up on pillows, surrounded by a mountain of books, she would write on her manuscript until the next attack seized her. She must have known her time was short. She let nothing keep her from completing her gift to the literature of the Faith. Nothing else meant anything to her. It was almost impossible to get her to eat. The only dish that interested her was a concoction she had us make up for her breakfast. It started with a piece of whole wheat toast, over which was poured honey, cream and a cup of hot coffee. On top of this mixture went a sliced banana! We had trouble finding bananas in wartime Washington. The friends were asked to search for them in their neighborhood markets. When they found some they would bring them to Emogene as a special treat.
Her power to draw on her inner spiritual strength when necessary was illustrated when one day the little silky cocker spaniel, Sandy, which slept on the foot of her bed and gave her his warming devotion, slipped out the front door and ran away. Emogene upstairs in bed heard the screen slam. She knew she was alone in the house and there was no one to bring him back. So she did the only thing there was to do — got out of bed, put on her clothes, and started off down Kirk Street after him. On my way home from the grocery store I was astonished to meet our bedridden Emogene striding along in perfect control of her muscles, leading Sandy firmly on a leash. We arrived home together. I watched this incredible woman undress, get back into bed, and take up her pen and begin to write. When it became necessary to give her up to the care of others, I was sad. Adeline and Carl Lohse came and bundled her and her few clothes and heavy boxes of books into their car. Five months later, in Charleston, South Carolina, she died. The friend who cared for her during those last months with great love and devotion — Miss Josey Pinson — wrote a touching account of her passing:
"About eight days before she passed, she had a very bad heart attack, and she said then that she knew the end was near. She asked for a pencil and pad and wrote out the following message to be cabled to the Guardian immediately after her passing: 'Last loving greetings, Emogene.'
"After that, she spoke very little of going, but grew weaker each day.
"The joy with which she announced her departure cannot be described in words. I only wish all the friends could have seen her.
" 'Come, Josie, quick! I'm going!' She wore an expression of supreme happiness, which she kept until the end. There was a light in her eyes which seemed to envelop her entire face, and all the marks of age seemed to disappear. She lived on for more than an hour after that, and breathed normally.
"Then she called to me in a joyous mood, extended her hand and took mine, 'Goodbye, I'm gone!'
"She passed away in heavenly ecstasy at 9:30 o'clock on the evening of December 15, 1945. I was standing by her when she breathed her last, and it was without a struggle. Her glorious departure overshadows all other sentiments."
The Guardian cabled:
"Deeply grieved passing staunch exemplary pioneer Faith, Emogene Hoagg. Record national, international services unforgettable. Reward Abha Kingdom assured, abundant."