Baha'i Library Online

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COLLECTIONSBooks, Biographies
TITLEJohn Henry Wilcott: A Pioneer Twice Over
AUTHOR 1D. Llewellyn Drong
ABSTRACTBook length biography of an early Bahá'í pioneer.
Table of Contents
    Part 1: Early Years
            "`Abdu'l-Bahá says little about destiny, but teaches much about will."

    Part 2: Montana and Marriage
            "A man can be a Bahá'í much easier when he understands all of God's work."

    Part 3: Faith and Hard Times
            "Now, dear Sister, you know times are very bad."

    Part 4: Insight
            " upright man who had a meaningful insight into the world."

    Bibliography and Acknowledgements

Chapter 1

Part 1: Early Years

"`Abdu'l-Bahá says little about destiny,
but teaches much about will."

      The region of the Adirondacks is one of ancient mountains, eroded by nature’s forces to smooth rounded forms and covered everywhere with broadleaf and conifer forest. Nearly every peak is below the tree line so the effect is a richness of trees that is the arborist’s counterpart to the richness of grasses of the prairies. In the northeast portion of what, today, is the Adirondack Forest Preserve flows the Ausable River, a small drainage that has cut deep, dramatic gorges in the limestone that forms the very bones of the earth. Here is Essex County, an area nearly the size of Delaware with only thirty-seven thousand people. In its northern portion lies the village of Jay, on the Ausable River, twenty-six straight-line miles west-southwest of Burlington, Vermont across Lake Champlain.

     In this beautiful setting, in 1871, Eliza (Frazier) Wilcott received an early present on Christmas Eve of a son. He was named John Henry Wilcott.

     `Abdu'l-Bahá says little about destiny, but teaches much about will. If we accept that will is a prime determiner of the course of a person’s life, then one of the lessons of John Henry Wilcott’s life is how will can determine a courageous and steadfast course of action and leave an example of living by one’s convictions.

      From John Wilcott’s daughter (Ethel Frost, a Bahá'í pioneer in Puerto Rico) and from the archives of the U.S. Bahá'í National Center, we learn that Eliza Frazier was a French Canadian, "the French part going directly back to Napolean." It is by a previous marriage that she acquired the name Frazier and gave birth to William, John Wilcott’s half-brother, and a number of half-sisters. John’s father appears to have been English and Scottish, so it comes as no surprise that in nineteenth century rural New York that John’s upbringing would be in the Presbyterian Church. The detached observer may feel justified in believing that the Calvanist work ethic was thoroughly ingrained in John during his formative period and showed itself to good effect in later years.

     Of John’s childhood and education nothing has been discovered as of this writing. From family members, however, it is learned that as a young man John spent time and earned some living as a trapper along the St. Lawrence River and traded with Canadians. Frost tells us, "From what I can figure out he must have spent a great deal of his life with his uncles around these mountains hunting etc. on up into Cheaspeake Bay [sic] and Lake Charbonneau which carries the name of his great, great uncle. Yes, the one that went with Louis [sic] and Clark on their expedition." In time he found opportunity to develop talent as an artist. Ethel Frost tells us, "Dad also worked somewhere in New York as a commercial artist for furniture companies. I have seen drawings of his beautiful designs for the carvings on the backs of chairs which was the ‘in’ thing in those days. And, he worked for jewelry companies chasing the intricate designs. He painted in water color, pencil and India ink." In later years, as a family man, this artistic ability would awaken the talents of his son who produced paintings and drawings of striking quality.

     John’s artistic ability may well have led him to his work as a landscape gardener for the Simmons Bed manufacturing firm. There he worked for the Lances, the family of Mr. Simmons' daughter. At least some of his work was around the Lance home. The Lances were apparently hospitable to John who sometimes received a piece of pie or the like at the greenhouse via a family servant.

      While the order of events cannot be determined from the records and notes at hand, it is possible to determine that in his twenty-fourth year, John Wilcott resided in Providence, Rhode Island. The marriage certificate for his first marriage records that as his place of residence when he married Nellie Mae Stevens of Keeseville, New York. It is conjectural, but possible, that John met Miss Stevens while still in New York since Keeseville is a short distance away from Jay, located on Lake Champlain’s shores. If that was the case, it seems it may have been their decision to begin life together in Providence. The marriage is recorded as being in Keeseville on the eleventh of July, 1894 and conducted by J.H. Clark, Methodist Minister.

     But, that marriage was not to endure. Family members recount that one child was born to the couple but died. Later, Nellie Mae divorced John. The next segment of his life seems to be in Saginaw, Michigan, and then Chicago. No mention is made of Nellie Mae in either place. Assuming the end of the marriage in the East, John’s move to Michigan may represent an effort to start life anew, but no record of his time in Michigan other than his being there is at hand. Whatever the case, he appears next in Chicago where he became a devout member of the Salvation Army. There we find the first indications of John Wilcott’s outlook on the world and on people. Frost says, "I do not know if he personally knew Booth or not [William Booth, founded the Salvation Army in London’s East End, never left England. Ballington Booth and Evangeline Cory Booth, William’s son and daughter, spent some time working in America: auth.] but he revered him and his teachings of a ‘World Army’ uniting all peoples and all religions in one. He considered him a Bahá'í before his time."

     Apparently, at this time in his life, John Wilcott discovered the Bahá'í Faith. Frost recalls him speaking of that time and referring to a tent. Since his move to Montana was before `Abdu'l-Bahá’s visit to America, this must have had to do with other gatherings of the time. Frost recalls his mentioning old friends of the period such as Thorton Chase, Carl Sheffler, Roy Wilhelm, John Behrens (who would later pioneer to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, at the same time John Wilcott moved to Montana, and with whom John maintained correspondence) and a Mr. Reimer whom, it turns out, was the father of Marguerite Sears, wife of the Hand of the Cause. According to his Bahá'í Historical Record and attached biographical questionnaire, John’s acceptance of the Bahá'í Faith was in July of 1908. He expresses uncertainty as to exactly where since he stated, "either Chicago or Wisconsin." Very likely, he had contact with Bahá'í communities throughout the area. Frost tells us that, "I have an idea that his mother was living in Wisconsin, perhaps with her son and that dad would visit her and interested her in the Faith 100% so that when he decided to go pioneering and homesteading in the west, she was glad to go with him, even tho elderly" [sic]. This marks the beginning of son and mother working together for the Faith. This can be seen later in their move to Montana which they undertook together, presumably at John’s instigation.

     Frost goes on to tell us, "It was Racine, Wisconsin, in 1907 that dad was a charter member. I remember a picture that said 1907 so assume that was the date." Racine and Kenosha were Bahá'í communities comprised of primarily working class and middle class people according to Robert Stockman’s history of the period. From that, we may get some approximation of what he was doing in life. Also, the Bahá'ís in America had rebounded from the effects of the defection of Ibrahim Kheiralla who had attempted to appropriate the leadership of the Bahá'ís in the West to himself. Stockman recounts the late part of that decade as a time of stability and some growth for the Chicago and southern Wisconsin area. So, this was a good time for a new Bahá'í to become acquainted with the Faith and Bahá'í community as well as to acquire stalwart personal friends in the Faith.

     John Wilcott was quick to be involved in the Faith. Richard Hollinger in his Community Histories says, "In 1908, at the request of the Chicago House of Spirituality, a Temple committee was appointed, consisting of three men and two women. By August 1908, they had raised about two hundred dollars and had another two hundred in pledges." John Wilcott was listed as one of the members. He continued supporting this effort of the American Bahá'ís long after this as Frost indicates, "He would have us, as children, save our pennies to send to help build the temple..." Hollinger further mentions John as part of one of the supporting families of the Kenosha community, possibly meaning John and his mother, Eliza, as a family.

     It is at this point that Frost mentions, "...a letter came from Abdul Baha [sic] stating that he wanted a Bahá'í in every state when he arrived in the United States," and, "Before dad went pioneering, maybe just the year before, he made an extended trip to the west visiting Berkley[sic], Oakland and San Francisco. He was with Mrs. Goodall Cooper, Kathryn Frankland and many others. I think this must have been in 1909. This, naturally helped convince him to pioneer." At this stage, it is useful to consider some other events transpiring in American history that likely had a bearing on John H. Wilcott’s selection of a pioneer post.

Chapter 2

Part 2: Montana and Marriage

"A man can be a Bahai much easier when
he understands all of God’s work."

     In 1877 the U.S. Congress reconsidered the Homestead Act, which provided settlers with 160 acres (a quarter section) of land. This was sufficient to the wetter climates of certain parts of the country, but not to dryer areas of the west where it took more land to yield the same harvest taken from the wetter areas. To remedy this, the Congress passed the Desert Land Act of 1877, which provided 640 acres (one section) at $1.25 an acre to a farmer who showed productivity within three years and irrigated part of the land.

     In South Dakota efforts were moving forward in the development of dryland farming. This was an area of critical concern to western farmers striving to make a living in a relatively dry part of the nation that had earned the reputation of "the Great American Desert." While the western prairie had much less annual rainfall than the lands east, it did have enough to sustain agriculture of a careful, considered kind. The dominant issue was always the one of providing enough moisture to raise crops.

     By 1900, Hardy Webster Campbell of South Dakota had become well known as a farmer who had explored techniques for preserving moisture in the ground. He had devised a subsurface packer that loosened the topsoil, thus creating a mulch-like layer that would retain moisture in a simultaneously tamped subsoil, especially after discing and harrowing after each rain. By 1905 Campbell’s methods became broadly known, including in Montana.

     By 1908, led by the Milwaukee Road, railroads serving Montana in collaboration with Montana businessmen began major promotional campaigns. This was a result of the optimism bred by the aforementioned developments. Michael P. Malone and Richard B. Roeder in their Montana: A History of Two Centuries list a heady combination of chambers of commerce, banker’s groups, newspaper editors, real estate boomers, the state Bureau of Labor, Agriculture and Industry, state college experts, the Milwaukee Road and the three James J. Hill railroads -- the Northern Pacific, the Great Northern R.R. and the Burlington R.R. -- giving rise to "advertising resources that no one else could match." Malone and Roeder go on to say that the railroads "...used nearly every conceivable method to publicize the fertility of the northern Great Plain and to lure in farmers. They offered prizes for crops and livestock, sponsored farm exhibits, ran agricultural display trains around the country, and spread advertising leaflets and brochures throughout the United States and Europe." The result, of course, was a mass migration of would-be farmers beginning in 1908. Indeed, just north-central Montana had between a thousand and fifteen hundred homestead filings monthly during 1910. On only one spring evening, 250 homesteaders detrained in Havre. The population of Montana rose from 243,329 in 1900 to 376,053 in 1910. The popular idea amongst many of them was the settlement and civilizing of the last great wilderness in America.

     It was in this period that John Wilcott arrived in Montana. He settled north of Kendall, which is, in turn, north of Lewistown, a town serviced by the Milwaukee Road. A few years later, the town of Winifred would be established close to and north of his 640-acre homestead, but at the beginning his trade would be in Kendall. He wound up with a section of prairie typical of the area. Near a knoll was a creek variously called Dog Creek, for the prairie dogs residing there, or Sage Creek. A very few small trees grew near the creek and it was there that he and his Mother set up a canvas wall tent which would be their home for a considerable time. It is from here that he wrote to the friends back east through the Bahá'í News. The letter was published in the November 23rd, 1910 edition and prefaced by the editor:
     A few interesting letters were received. One of them we publish herewith, believing it will demonstrate what can be accomplished for the spread of the Cause, no matter how adverse the conditions. We are pleased to present this letter from Mr. John H. Wilcott, who will be remembered as a former active member of the Kenosha, Wis., Assembly:

           Kendall, Mont., Sept. 12, 1910
To the Bahai News.
     Dear servants of Abdul-Baha: -- I know you will be pleased to hear from this part of the West. Although the work of giving the Message is rather slow, we allow no opportunity to pass. Mother and I are the only Bahais around here that we know of, and up to this time we have only had cowboys, shepherds and a few ranchers to talk to, who live many miles apart. My nearest ranchman owned 27 miles long of land which has now been sold to the railroad company. This is the way I reach these people, which may seem strange to you: First of all my claim is just where every one has to make their roundup. Hundreds of cattle are around us all the time. I have a full cowboy’s suit, and I am out with the boys and seem to be as tough as they are, so not to be a tenderfoot. From one to eight come to my tent daily and I am now called "the preacher" for miles around. Well, this is something new to the boys -- some one to talk of God to them -- and yet I seem like one of them. They tell it all over and I frequently meet a new one who has heard of us. One old sheep-keeper, who used to come and rest under a tree in my yard while watching his sheep eat, and to whom I would then talk, regretted so greatly the life he had lived that he told me he was going away from this life after living here thirty years. Before leaving, he came to bid us good-bye and we gave him a good meal. I think the seed had started to grow.
     Many of the cowboys shoot game and bring it to us. Of course we have to feed many of them at times, but that is the only way we can reach them. At first some of them did not want to hear anything of God -- said there was no God -- but after some of the great hidden mysteries were explained to them, they became interested, and you would be surprised to see us sitting on a log outside, or in the tent, until 10 o'clock at night.
     My dear mother is the only doctor around here for forty-five miles. The land is now all taken up and settlers are coming in rapidly. The cowboys told them that mother was a diploma doctor, so they have started to come after her, traveling from fifteen to twenty miles. She is not a bit slow in giving the Message. A few weeks ago when it was warm, a cowboy came and was resting by the tent. He asked mother if she had anything to read. She gave him one of our Bahai books. He cursed and said: "That is religion. Haven't you any papers?" So she gave him a newspaper from Santa Anna, which was sent to us by a missionary there, to whom I am trying to give the Message, but who has not been able to grasp it yet. Well, this paper told about God, and the cowboy, after looking at it for a while, said: "Why, this is religion -- just as bad as the other book." Mother said: "This is all we have here. We live for God." When I came in with a bunch of prairie chickens he said to me: "Hello, preacher! This is a great place -- nothing to read." I replied that I had just what he wanted, and going to my trunk, brought a book called "Indian Wars and Brave Deeds." Well, you should have seen that man! He was very much pleased and called for a few days until he had finished reading it. He then said: "If there is a God, why did He let those Indians kill those poor people in such a way?" That gave me an opportunity, and now the man begins to read Bahai books and does not curse any more in our tent.
     I enjoyed reading Mr Remey’s letter in the Bahai News. I was very much impressed with his statement that when one is out trying to give the Message, he needs encouragement from the other believers. I find it so here and feel that the friends should think more of this. A little of my experience would convince one of the truth of this statement. I have received one letter from Johnstown, two from Chicago, and a few from Mrs. Goodale, of Kenosha, that put new life into me to do more work.
     Any literature regarding the Cause will be gladly accepted and handed to some of the new settlers here. These cowboys are all good fellows and tired of this life. They are seeking for something and do not know where to get it -- it is the Message. So when any one goes out to try to give the Message, let us encourage them. In a place like this God is not known. They believe there is no God, no heaven or hell, because they have been taught so. It is not easy and one should be encouraged.
     This country is wild with rattlesnakes and wolves. I have killed many snakes, but as the country is now being settled the snakes are disappearing. One was in our tent last night. We heard him rattle. We dare not sleep with an arm outside of the bed. It is getting cold; the mountains are covered with snow and we had four inches of it. We are still in a tent, but I am building a log house. Frost killed nearly all we had, but God giveth and God taketh away -- praise His Name! When I go for mail, I carry a gun because of wild steers. Every one carries a gun because of cattle and snakes.
     My mother is 70 years old and keeps up quite well. We have lots of hay on the ground in the tent to keep our feet warm, but we have been laid up with colds. Everything here has to be hauled from Lewistown, forty-five miles. Our nearest place is Kendall, a small town, 5,800 feet high in the mountains -- a gold mining town -- about ten houses built on rocks on the side of the hill. Oil costs 50 cents a gallon, potatoes four cents a pound, etc. Before this cold weather came I used to lie in bed in the morning and take my gun from the side of my pillow and shoot sage hens or prairie chicken. They destroyed my garden, and four of five times a day I used to go around the garden to drive them out and also the rabbits.
     I have taken some pictures and send you one of myself now as I go among the boys.
     Here comes another old shepherd who likes to come here -- I can hear his voice over the hill calling the sheep, so I must stop writing.
     We send all our Bahai love and ask your earnest prayers.
     Your servant in His Name,
John H. Wilcott.
     This letter reveals much about John Wilcott’s first year in Montana. The mountains he mentions were to the west and were the source of logs for his cabin which he hauled back a few at a time over many miles. It seems he may have acquired them from someone in Kendall. Frost says that he brought logs from the Missouri Breaks area which is also thirty to forty miles away. Kendall was a days' drive away by wagon and had the only post office and stores for miles. The frost he refers to apparently killed his fruit trees which he had brought with him from Wisconsin and which his family remembers as part of his stories. He also brought his camera. He had added photography to his skills and talents somewhere along the journey of his life, and we have photographs of him just at this time. The best known picture of him, which is featured in the 1910 Star of the West article,  shows him on his horse with chaps, hat and holstered pistol. Many Bahá'ís of the present day may remark as to his carrying a gun, which is prominent in that and other pictures he had taken of himself (presumably with his mother’s assistance), but the character and wildness of the land as he describes it illustrate how the gun was a tool of the cowboy of the time. This was ordinary throughout the West. Modern fiction and movies grossly mislead on this point.

     As to John Wilcott gaining the reputation as a preacher, Frost relates that John seemed proud of being referred to as the sheep herder’s preacher. Perhaps it was appreciated in a humorous way since, as Frost reminds us, the Sears and Roebuck catalogue was known as the sheep herder’s Bible.

     John Wilcott became a prolific letter writer, preparing several in a day. A few have been preserved and filed by the Bahá'í National Archives. The following letters, which tell so vividly his story, are partially edited for some of the spelling and punctuation to render it easier to read by the modern eye.
           (9)      Kendall, Montana
      March 11, 1911
Allah o Abha
     Dear Brother Windust your letter at hand. It filled us with joy to read its content. I enjoyed reading about the snow and angel’s feather. I sent it to Kenosha to be read because I really felt it would do them good to read it. Also many other letter which I have received. Some are very good and deep. In my last mail I got 25 letters. I am getting letter from all assemblies. I answer all and send pictures and they all seem to enjoy hearing from out here. We have still very deep snow in front of our house. The snow is higher than the house and the house is 10 feet high. I am sending you some pictures so you can see. If you love snow you would enjoy being here this winter. It would surely do you good -- or any one that is tied up in a city.
     Here I am alone with God day after day. I do nothing but lie down and read. Mother is off on another case 23 miles from here to a small town called Dear Trail -- some settlers from Watertown N.Y. All I've done this winter was to split 4 hundred [illegible] for fencing and dig a well. We had to shovel 9 feet of snow to get to the ground so to dig. This is as bad as the North Pole. I got lost last week when I went after my mail. The snow was so bright and a terrible wind that I got blind, then lost my trail and had to make my way in snow to my waist and in places to my neck.
     Sunday I walked two miles to give the Message to two young men from Ohio who I have been teaching all summer and winter and thought they had it good. But Sunday I taught them extra good and when I was all done I learned that one of them did not believe a word I had taught him; and still more, he did not believe in God. My heart sank. But I felt that God will bless the words I had spoken to them and in time they will wake up. They come from Christian families. I had a hard trip through the deep snow, but I now do pray God to bless all the seeds which I have sowed that other will grow from them and spread the Cause.
     Brother, I know what it is to be locked up in a office or shop. I spent many days in one and used to feel that I could do any other kind of work and how often I would wish to be free out in the open air way off in woods or desert to see what God’s hands has done -- and at last I broke loose and studied much. That is how I became a gardener. I spent 3 years off in the mountains studying all God’s work, worked at a Mr. Willbank cottage in the Adirondack Mountains. Hardly any pay but oh, what enjoyment it was to be my own boss, go fishing, hunting and boating, studying different trees, wild flowers, rocks, most [sic] and insects. What great enjoyment no one knows only those that has been through it all. And I would[n't] change my study for any other.
     Now, this great Cause is another great study which I love day by day and it goes hand in hand with what I know of the great nature. So every thing becomes plain to me and some time when I think it over I fill right up with joy to know that I know these both. A man can be a Bahai much easier when he understands all of God’s work. It comes to him so plain that he can see it easy and makes it easy to tell others of this truth. If every Bahai could make a study of flowers, trees, rocks, birds, most [sic] and all God’s hand work he would become the happiest man on earth. We are all driven too hard in this world and no time to look at God’s grand work which is for us to understand and know. And I have just begun -- I mean to push on and study more of it. I wish I could have all the Bahais with me. On a trip in California I saw wonderful things that thousands of others could see. Because they did not understand God’s work I saw so much in one place that I felt ready to die, thinking I had seen all of God’s grand work. Here where I am isn't much to see, only great prairies and mountains. But in other parts of Montana God has left great things for us to enjoy.
     Well, Brother, write again [illegible] time. Love to you all, also the Assemblies.
     Your Brother Wilcott.

     If I get a crop this summer I will be all right, but if not I will be lost. But it is all in God’s hands. If he sees fit he will bless us. This is a good place to try a Bahai. He will either grow or fall. He will surely not stand still. I believe one winter is about all I want up here because of my Mother. She is all discouraged with the deep snow and cold and lonesome life and she is old and wants a better home than this for what few years she has got to live. But it was my health and teaching that brought me here and I [illegible] God will bless me for it all.
     In among those that I am teaching are many women and children and they are begging of me to start a Sunday school. But I cannot see my way through it, because as it is we have hard work to live because there is so many that come here to eat because they know a Christian will not turn them out and they are really starving. Three families here are going around from settlers to settlers begging for food and if I would start a school I would have to feed many more. And what can a man do when he hardly can get enough to live on himself? And yet we cannot teach other and not live the life, so I feed all that comes so far. I am depending on my crop of wheat.
     John Wilcott’s postscript in this letter can be understood more with this quote from Malone and Roeder about a sampling of the homesteaders of this time: "Beyond dispute many of them lacked farming experience, and this simple fact undoubtedly caused hundreds to fail. In a sample of fifty-eight farmers in a 'typical township' of Montana’s north-central 'triangle' region, agricultural expert M.L. Wilson found in 1922 only twenty-three who listed their former occupation as 'farmer'. Among the others, Wilson found two physicians, two school teachers, three 'Maiden Ladies', six musicians, two wrestlers, and one 'World Rover'." Doubtless, John and Eliza found themselves witnessing the difficulties of those who had failed early and were forced to consider the risks impinging on themselves.
           (9)      Kendall, Montana
      June 26, 1911
     Allah o Abha
     Dear Brother, your letter at hand. Dear Brother, the reason I did not send for the Star of the West is because I am at present out of cash. I have 22 cents to my name. I need and would like the Star but cannot afford it just now, and will have to wait till I get ahold of some money some where. I am still working in the Cause. I have some new neighbor [to] enlist in it.
     God has given us a good crop so far. My wheat is up to my neck.
     My mother has been very sick but is now better.
     Always remember if I do not read the Star I am with you all just the same and my prayers are for all the friends that they may become strong.
     I am gaining in health fast this summer and working hard building fences to keep cattle out.
     I am sending you a view of my place taken a few days ago. It looks different than it did in winter. I have a fine garden as good as any town east.
     We would like to hear from Chicago if ever you get a chance to spare a few minutes.
     Your Brother and Sister in the Cause, John H. Wilcott

          [illegible] love to all.
     The next portion of the story can be picked up by Frost.
     "Somewhere between 1914 and 1916 he met my mother. He went to a ranch 20 miles away to buy some vegetables and he met her in the cabbage patch cutting a large cabbage. She was a beautiful 21 year old German girl (he was 43 years old at that time). She was accidentally there taking care of a relative’s relative who had just had twins. She expected to return to her brothers in St. Louis and then on to her parents in Germany, but dad convinced her to marry him so they were married November 11th, 1916...Mother taught father how to run the ranch, plant gardens, wheat and other crops. She insists that he never knew how to hitch up a team of horses when she met him! They raised chickens, turkeys, geese, pigs, cattle, etc.... "
     "My mother and grandmother never got along and dad had to build a separate place for my grandmother....I was born the next September. My grandmother died a year later from hardening of the arteries. (I see dad has on the tombstone of my grandmother, 1919. I think it was 1918 because my sister was born in January 1919, and she died right before then). My brother was born two years after my sister."
     The woman Ethel Frost is introducing here is Johana Schmidt who came from St. Louis, Missouri. She was the mother to the only children John had. Ethel’s sister was named Wanda, her brother, Norman. All three are still alive at this writing.

     By this time, Winifred was an established community, for the wedding was held there at the M.E. (Methodist Episcopal) parsonage on November 14th according to a local newspaper clipping. John Wilcott presented his wife with an opal diamond wedding ring during the ceremony. A large quantity of flowers was brought up from Helena and was cause for remark by many. Johana had a huge bouquet and wore a light blue silk gown. John had a full dress suit. The couple was conveyed to the Wilcott home by an automobile owned and driven by friend Hubert Armstrong. Thirty guests attended the wedding dinner. In the evening the townspeople serenaded the couple. The local Times newspaper described Johana as cultured, charming and amiable and John as honest, handsome, enterprising and "a man whom any woman could well be proud to call husband." In this frontier setting, all of this made for a most impressive occasion.

     John wrote:
           Nov. 21, 1916
      Winifred, Mont.
Allah o Abha

     Dear beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Cause. I am very happy and wish you all to know of it. I was married Nov. 14. I am sending you a copy of our marriage [sic] which you may use if you see fit to do so. I am doing well out here and God has taken away from me this year and yet he has given me the sweetest girl around. We both love Him and try hard to do what He wishes us to. My wife is not a Bahai or has she heard of it. But she is a good true girl and I know she loves to do what is right.
     I am your Brother in the Cause and would love to have some Believer write to Mrs. Wilcott in German if there is such in the Assembly.
     Yours very truly,
     Mr. and Mrs. Wilcott
     There is only little indication of what difficulties arose between mother and wife. There is nothing to indicate that it was anything major, although family members express sorrow over much of what transpired after John’s marriage to Johana. Eventually, when the original cabin was moved from the ground near the creek to the top of the nearby knoll and added on to, Eliza set up housekeeping in the old cabin which became a wing attached to the larger new one. The root of any difficulties has been said to lie in Johana’s views on the Faith. However, she remained with John to her death in 1962. Frost recounts,
     "...I was not raised a Bahá'í and my mother, being very opposed to the Faith, destroyed most everything. I did see some little books or pamphlets with the number nine on them and knew my father cherished them and would tell people about them. Also my father had a hand made Greatest Name, embroidered in purple silk thread. He said it was made by a Hindu princess and the last we knew of her is that she was old and lived in St. Louis, Missouri. Well, this Greatest Name dad had framed in a very heavy black and gold frame. He said that this was the Bahá'í colors and the way it should be. And for a side interest, this Greatest Name was not destroyed and hung above my bed and I am the only one to have become a Bahá'í!"
     However, other observations made of Johana tell a much different story. Nellie Thompson Mereness, a Bahá'í from Butte who had lived in Great Falls from 1948 through 1953 met Johana and John during their visits to their son there. She wrote,
     "In all fairness to my dear and trustworthy friend, Johana Wilcott and her belief and steadfastness in Bahá'u'lláh there is no doubt. I was very close to her during my stay in Great Falls and heard her express many times her belief in His teachings and would someday be one of us. Due to her husband’s poor eyesight she had for years read his newsletter to him along with the Gleanings, her favorite book. Johana was self schooled in the Faith but due to lack of encouragement and someone to talk to she could not express herself. The soil of that human heart was deeply plowed and furrowed with trials and tribulations. So when the seed was planted it took hold and will continue to grow and develop eternally. My deepest and sincerest affections to Johana and John Wilcott. May God bless them.
     It would seem that the matter of destroyed materials was others' misinterpretation of the kind of major housecleaning we all do from time to time, accompanied by an unawareness that anything would have historical value. Certainly, many of John’s remarks in his letters support Mereness' view. In one documentable instance, quoted below from a December 25, 1932 letter, he even signs his correspondence, "From your Bahai Brother and Sister...

Chapter 3

Part 3: Faith and Hard Times

"Now, dear Sister, you know
times are very bad."

     Farmers in Montana had a good period from 1909 through 1916, and 1917 was good for most, because the plains saw ample rainfall and large harvests, and the World War in Europe was stimulating demand for wheat, keeping prices high. Malone and Roeder quote the editor of the Montana Churchman to convey the air of optimism in the state in 1907: "That time [cowboy days] has gone forever. Already in her westward march Civilization has planted her feet firmly on this territory. Ten years from now 'the West' will be as the womb of the earth, teeming with people, seething with industry, alive with manifold activities -- the center of population and civilization!" While the vision of the editor may have been excessive, the tone was characteristic of the time. When spring of 1917 arrived, the United States entered the World War, and to assure farmers that productivity would not drive prices down and result in farmers scaling back food production, the U.S. Congress set price floors. Wheat could not go below $2.00 per bushel. So farmers were inspired to plow fallow ground and pasture lands.

     But, that season, drought began appearing on the High Line, the northernmost strip of prairie Montana. By 1919, high winds were blowing away the loose topsoil produced by Hardy Webster Campbell’s dryland farming methods. Over time through 1920, Europe was back to meeting most of its own food needs and prices for crops dropped. The winter of 1919-20 saw thousands of farm families in Montana without sufficient means to get through the winter. Those with hope or without better prospects hung on, but many left. Governor Sam Stewart called a special session of the legislature to try to provide relief but could only come up with an issuing of bonds for road building to provide some work, and those failed to sell well.

     Eleven thousand farms in Montana were vacated, twenty percent of the farms in the state. Twenty thousand mortgages were foreclosed. Half of Montana’s farmers lost their land. Banks, overextended during prosperous days, failed until less than half of them remained. Malone and Roeder tell us that Montana had the highest bankruptcy rate in the United States from 1920 to 1926 and was the only state to lose population during that time. Memories of the promises and boosterism of the railroads inspired a children’s rhyme about Jim Hill, majority owner of the railroads that encouraged and brought the homesteaders to Montana’s plains:
Twixt Hill and Hell, there’s just one letter;
Were Hill in Hell, we'd feel much better.

     From John Wilcott, this typed letter:
          Allah o Abha
      Winifred, Montana
      Dec. 9, 1919
To the Bahai News:
My dear brother -
     We are having very hard times here as we did not get a crop for four years now, and at present we hardly know where to get our next meal. The stores have cut off credit, and the county will not help any more till Spring. I thought perhaps by letting you know how we are here that there maybe some of the friends that could get together and help us out in a box of old clothes and some food. If we can stand this winter, God willing we may get a crop this coming year. It makes me feel bad to see my two little babies wanting for food and my mother just alive waiting for her to pass away, and not food enough to give her, and such cold weather - 40 below today, the coldest winter that Montana ever saw. Mrs. Goodale has sent us $10 and Mrs. Peckman $5, and they are going to send some old clothes. I thought perhaps that some of the friends could get together some clothes and perhaps a little box of food that would help us out. If my heart wasn't broken I wouldn't write this, but I cannot see my dear little ones suffer for both clothes and food. The Bahais should not be beggars, and I do not want to beg, but when there isn't any work to get and the banks take all you have away except your land, and that is mortgaged so deep that you can't get another cent on it, and the winter so cold and no coal to be had, I tell you it makes a man write such a letter as this. Please speak to some of the believers that you think may help us out.
     We did not raise even one potato, not one kernel of wheat. I have nothing to feed my horses, but the bank has the mortgage on them and they no doubt will take them. Hoping to hear from you soon,
     Your brother in His Cause, John H. Wilcott
     From Chicago, this prompt reply:
Chicago, Dec. 15, 1919
Mr. John H. Wilcott,
Winifred, Montana.

     My dear Bahai brother:-
     The Bahai News Service have just turned over your letter of December 9th to me. I have just sent a telegram to Mr. J.W. Latimer, Union Station, Portland, Ore., and asked him to send immediately clothes, food, etc. We will also send some clothing from here. We are sending a check to Mr. Latimer to cover the expense. Please let me know when you receive these things, also would like to hear from you before this regarding your circumstances. We are indeed very sorry that these trials have come upon you, and will do our utmost to come to your assistance. I wish we had known before.
     With Bahai love,
     Your brother in service,
     Ethel Frost draws out some positive memories from this time.
     "He received and corresponded regularly with Roy Wilhelm, his spiritual father. Times were hard on the farm when the crops failed etc. so I suppose (I don't know) that Mr. Wilhelm would send him money to help out. I know that he would send boxes of old clothes gathered from the Bahá'ís of the east and my mother would make them over for us children. We girls were the best dressed children in school with silks, satins and chiffon dresses!!!"
     In 1924 John Wilcott suffered bankruptcy. Papers show procedures scheduled first in Kendall and then in Lewistown. An irony in the bankruptcy is that in 1924 the rains returned.

     Malone and Roeder explain that the period from 1922-29 was one of improving economy nationwide and so a period of improvement for Montana as well. With the end of the drought in 1924 Montana farmers and ranchers that remained showed a more radical and vocal side, much in reaction to the apparent inaction of the government during the catastrophic drought. An active Communist movement even grew amongst farmers in the northeast corner of the state. While this was a minority and was not a meaningful force to most Montana farmers and ranchers, it is a sign of the mood of the times. This period, however, during which much of the worries and burdens of the previous years could be thrown off and energies channeled to growth and development, was only a respite. In 1929 the drought resumed and the Great Depression began.

     This was the drought of the infamous Dust Bowl. Farmers literally watched their and others' farms move downwind while they could only stand by, rubbing their neighbors' property out of their eyes. The Red Cross responded to requests by half of Montana’s fifty-six counties for assistance. It was severely challenged to meet the needs. Its average food grant from 1930 through 1932 was ten cents a day. At times, John was getting less than half of that for himself and his family. Prices failed profoundly. Malone and Roeder cite that a quantity of wheat worth $100 in 1920 sold for $19.23 in 1932. Meat, wool, sugar beets, everything raised in Montana suffered the same. They said, "Back in the good years of the later 1920s, the [Daniels County] county seat, Scobey, had once advertised itself as the world’s largest wheat shipping point. By the spring of 1933, after four years of sub-par rainfall, thirty-five hundred of the counties' five thousand people needed relief assistance. After touring the eastern reaches of the state in August 1931, Governor John Erickson could only bury his head in his hands, lamenting, as an associate later recalled, that if only someone could find a solution to the problem, he would gladly embrace it." Many who remained after the earlier drought and depression sought their solution by leaving.

     It is clear from his letters that John Wilcott pondered his circumstances heavily during this time. In those letters one can see his staunch commitment to the Faith, his courage, his struggle to do the wise thing, his love of family, his sorrow and his grit. Following are excerpts from some of his letters of 1931 and 1932 that pick up the story here.

     November 8, 1931:
     My dear Bahai Sister, your letter received and I was very glad to hear from you. Sister, I feel as though I know you well as all Bahais ought to feel; and in that case I shall be very plain to you. It breaks my heart not to be able to give to this beautiful Temple of ours. 25 years ago I knelt many times on the Temple ground and prayed for this Temple. I also gave very freely $50.00 at a time. Sister, for 3 years we haven't got a crop. This year we did not raise even a garden, and now we are getting help from the Red Cross. They allowed us only $6.00 for a month -- $1.25 each. There is 5 of us. Every one here is suffering. I went 20 to 25 miles after my wood for winter and dug my coal 10 miles from home. The children hardly have clothes for winter. My children don't know what 5 cents look like. My Bahai Sister, if we only could help in this great Temple I would be very glad to do so and I feel very sad that I cannot do so.
     We are the only Bahai out here and I read all books that Roy Wilhelm sends me so I keep posted on all that is going on.
     Mr. Wilhelm got me a job on a Bahai’s farm last spring, but it was impossible to take the job because of no money to go with. At present my rent is free here and we have a few chickens and a few cattle we get on with, and butter. No eggs yet. But there is no feed for the cattle and no sale for them now. We are trusting God and doing the best we can, and there are many others just like us all on the Red Cross. But we are afraid that the Red Cross won't last long as they have more than they can feed.
     Sister, my little children send Bahai love to you and wish to thank you for these papers you sent them Last Christmas. I would love to hear from you again.
     From your Brother in the Cause. Allah o Abha.
     December 10, 1931:
     It was a great blessing to me to get such a loving letter from one that we never seen. But a Bahai seem to know each other [sic]. You know, once a Bahai, you are always a Bahai. You letter was very good and kind and it went to the heart. You know I write to very few Bahais. My most great friend is Roy Wilhelm. He has written to me and kept me posted on the Bahai work for 22 years...
     Now, dear Sister, you know times are very bad. It is so good of you to want to help us, but I beg of you to go easy as perhaps you may need all yourself, as everyone does. Of course, whatever you send will be a great help to us this winter and the children will so much enjoy it.
     This is the hardest year we ever say [sic] and we are both hard workers...
     I have prayed every night for the Temple for 22 years, and also for all meetings on Sunday all over the world. There was a time when I knew most all the believers in U.S.A. Miss Martha Root 22 years ago sent me a box of books from Phil[adelphia]. B.M. Jacobson of Kenosha, Wisconsin was my teacher. He did a good job. I was also ready for this message [sic]. When I get time I shall hunt up my work in California as I was one of the first ones to go to California and meet the believers and talk to them. If you are an old believer you will see in the Star of the West my picture, also my experience out here among the cowboys. I have given this message among all my neighbors and in those days I had to walk many miles to do so. My old Mother was with me. She came here to help me give the message. She was a doctor and 50 miles was the nearest doctor. She did well, gave the message to hundreds.
     ...Mrs. Wilcott sends her love to you, also the children.
     December 16, 1931:
     ...and I am trying to get out of this country if I ever can. What kind of a place is it where you live? Is it out in a farm country or is it in a town? Is there any work out there? I talk to you as if I know you because you are a Bahai. We all send love to all of you...
     January 9, 1932:
     My dear Bahai Sisters, your most welcome letter came. It was surely a beautiful letter full of the spirit of God. [I]t was news to me that you could take the Bahai lessons in this way. When I left Chicago 22 years ago there was no such thing as giving lessons by writing and I am surely surprised what good believer you are. I do wish I could help you in books. Perhaps I have some that you have not and I can spare them. I have two of some kinds. Have you got a book called Some Answered Questions? by Abdu'l Baha?...How wonderful it is to think of you both way out there trying to learn of this great Cause in the way you are doing it, when here I am giving the message to many and showing them proofs of it and letting them read books on the Cause and yet they will not pay any attention to it. They are all Christian and I am nothing because I go to no church.
     Mrs. Wilcott and children enjoyed reading those lessons and how wonderful they are.
     We are thinking of going away from this place. I have a few places to go to but it takes money. The Bahai [sic] has a farm in Michigan and they want a Bahai farmer on it. Then Roy Wilhelm in New Jersey offers me a job on his place as a landscape gardner [sic], which is my trade. There is no use staying here for each year gets worse. I came here with 5 thousand and today I haven't got only 15 head of cattle, a wife and 3 children which I am thankful for.
     Sisters, we send to you our deepest love and prayers that you will always be steadfast in this great Cause. Remember, once a Bahai, always a Bahai.
     From a Bahai Brother not worthy of being called a Bahai.
     April 2, 1932:
     My dear Bahai Sister, Auntie Victoria,
     I have received 2 or 3 letters from you and I haven't answered them yet. I thank you for writing and also for the tea. I drank the tea while I was sick. I had the flu for one week and I was very sick. We are all very well now.
     I have been trying to sell out so I could go away from here but it is impossible to do so till fall. Then perhaps I shall go if the place is open [sic].
     We received letters from many Bahais who you sent our names to and we were very glad to hear from them. We received a box from a children’s school in Bingham, N.Y. which my children answered. You had given them our name. We will send them one of our pictures which will please them. I am sending you one that I know you will like. It is us, and you will know just who we are. It was taken Feb. 29, 1932 in our yard. No snow at that time, but the next day for a week it snowed and blew, so all roads was impossible to travel. But now we have no snow and we are getting ready to go to work in the fields. But it doesn't look to good to me. Everything is too dry. I lost one horse and another is dieing, and if the government do not get that feed here soon, there will be lots of cattle dead here. Cattle are dieing for the want of feed.
     The Red Cross is feeding us, but this is the last month. I have two cows that are fresh and we get our milk and butter but no feed for them. They are shipping in 4 cars of feed. If it ever gets here it will help us. This feed is feed is for cattle.
     Well this is all now. I have written, today, 7 letters to Bahais.
     I am your Brother in the Great Cause,
      John H. Wilcott, Winifred, Montana
     April 2, 1932:
     ...I want to thank you for sending me those writings. Please do not go to that work of writing all that for me.
     I gave your last one to a minister here that I have been trying to get him interested in the Bahai for 18 years [sic]. But he is a hard one to do anything with...
     I also got a letter from Mrs. A. Duffy, R.F.D.#6, Norwich, Connecticut -- a very fine believer, 75 miles from any Bahai. I also heard from M., Ruth [Ruth Moffet]. Did you receive any books from Roy W.? I tried to get them for you through Roy and he has not said, yet, if he had them or not.I hope and pray that you will have food luck with your work there. Let me hear from you again.
     John F. Behrens, R.#5, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho is a fine believer. He is now 65 and I knew him 30 years ago as a Bahá'í will loved to you all.
     In His Name, John H. Wilcott and family
     December 25, 1932:
     ...My little sister from Los Angeles is here making us a visit. She is 58 years old and full of life.
     I have been very busy this summer. We have a good crop and a very good garden. Mrs. Wilcott is very busy canning garden stuff. I have a boiler of corn on the stove now while they, my wife and sister, are visiting a neighbor. I am in the house because it rained and I cannot cut grain. We are all very happy because it rained. As it was, the garden was drying up. Mrs. Wilcott said what a beautiful family and you are all beautiful, and those roses look so good to us all as we never see a rose here. My sister can't figure out just where you live unless it is near Frisco.
     My little girls send their love to your dear boy. They think he’s so sweet...
     I am thinking of living in California as I have two farms, one ranch offered me. They are not very large, 10 to 50 acres. Perhaps I cannot get a living on them.
     We all thank you for the picture and we do hope that our hard time is over. We send you all our Bahai love, and I do pray for your happiness.
     From your Bahai Brother & Sister, John Wilcott.
     There was, by the time of this letter, some relief from the drought. That break lasted through 1933. Harsh drought returned for three of the following four years.

Chapter 4

Part 4: Insight

" upright man who had a
meaningful insight into the world."

     Ethel Frost adds more insight into John Wilcott’s struggles for the Faith and his formidable isolation. She indicates that he never saw another Bahá'í for thirty-five years except for his mother. It was therefore an outstanding occasion when Professor Ward and family visited and gave a lecture in the school house in Winifred where John’s children had attended school. She says "Dad was proud and as enthusiastic as when he entered the Faith!" She adds, "After my husband became a Bahá'í it was grand for father as we constantly kept him in touch with things. It was hard for him to understand Shoghi Effendi, as it was for a lot of the so-called '`Abdu'l-Bahá Bahá'ís'." John’s isolation during the Ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá and the establishment of the Guardianship meant that an important transition in the Faith passed him by. Ethel Frost moved to Butte, Montana during or after 1936 where it was much easier to be in contact with Bahá'í affairs. John occasionally visited Butte some long time after his daughter’s move and, "so were priviliged to have him meet many Bahá'ís"

     Arithmetic dictates that the Ward visit was in 1946. About 1948, Victoria Bedikian, known to the friends of the time as "Auntie Victoria" was traveling around the United States "on foot". Auntie Victoria had sustained considerable correspondence with many Bahá'ís, especially children, for years. As a lover of children, she often added special features in her correspondence for them. Frost remembers letters "with all her little pretty drawings all made on a hectograph pad." It apparently was because of a network of Bahá'í children’s groups that she had set up that Victoria was able to assist the Wilcott family as per the April 2, 1932 letter quoted above

     Finally, one especially interesting detail seems appropriate here from Ethel Frost’s remembrances that comes from the days of 'Abdu'l-Bahá: "He obeyed everything that Abdul Baha told him. He told him he must 'stay at his post' thus nothing could drag him away. He also told him that he could drink whiskey because it was so cold there and dangerous with the snakes was the cheapest and easiest to buy in the wilderness. You could not convince him that he couldn't till the day he died!" This can make a little sense in the context of the prohibition on drinking in the West not being instated until the early days of the Guardian.

     John Wilcott’s life in the 1940s and 1950s appears to have become a much more comfortable one. Frost says, "Dad farmed until he retired with the government pension at 65 years of age." That would have been 1937. It may have been this time when his section of land was divided. John gave a portion of it to the town of Winifred to be used for a cemetery. To this time, however, it all remains agricultural land except the site of the homestead where the cabin remains and John, Johana and Eliza are buried. Frost recalls, "When I left home in 1936 our ranch consisted of 640 acres." Today, there are 160 acres which is leased for ranching by the family.

      He did continue to do odd jobs for people and get pay for them, or bartered work for goods. John acquired Civil Conservation Corps certificates for welding and sign painting in 1938 and presumably put them to good use. Of course, they always had a garden, and some income came from the leasing of land to area ranchers. Johana, twenty years younger than John, was a certified midwife and, doubtless, had contributed much toward the income of the family for years. She continued her practice. Grandchildren of John and Johana recall, on their visits in the 1950s, having a lot of company their own age of children that Johana had helped deliver and whose parents were close friends. The cabin remained a very nice home that John kept up. Built of log, it was two stories, chinked with concrete and solid. It was heated by a very fine and ornate wood stove. The second well on the homestead since 1911 went dry during the 1930s so John commenced hauling water on a regular basis from a neighbor. He used milk cans and the arrangement met their needs into the 1960s. In 1962 John had electricity and telephone installed at the cabin.

     Snapshots of the family going back to the 1920s and coming down through the 1950s offer windows on pieces of family life. When not working, John maintained the habit of wearing a nice shirt and tie. A family picnic picture shows John and Johana with the three children dressed as if on a Sunday after church, blankets spread for a pleasant time on the grass. Another shows John with a pipe. As an aside, it is intriguing to find, amongst his personal things, his old Alsacian pipes. These were the old fashioned German style of pipe with the tightly curved bit, long cherry wood shank, deep ornate bowl with a lid and decorative cords. Other pictures show farm life; feeding the chickens, moving hay, fixing the roof. One shot shows the result of a successful bird hunt with a good number of pheasant spread out on the autumn snow.

     One particularly striking feature of John in all the photographs of him is his inherent dignity. There is no apparent stoop of age, but always a straight-standing, strong willed and dignified man in them all. He had a full head of hair into his old age which turned fully white. The whole image is one of an upright man who had a meaningful insight into the world.

     On the old family homestead are three graves. One is Eliza’s, who died in 1918, the first woman Bahá'í to settle in Montana for the purpose of teaching the Faith. One is of Johana, a woman who was strong of heart and who impressed others as one as committed to Bahá'u'lláh’s message as her husband. A woman who, foregoing her return to the comforts and lifestyle of St. Louis, married and stood by her husband loyally through the harshest of years and ministered to the needs of her neighbors and of mothers on the prairie. She died in 1962 at the age of seventy. Between the two is the grave of John.

     After the death of Johana, John was brought to Great Falls by his son, Norman. Having spent so much of his life in wild areas and countryside, he was never satisfied with life in even a little city and so stayed in this home almost entirely before his death by old age. But even at this time of his life the Faith was a motivating force to him. Frost recounts that he wanted his death to be the last way that he could teach the Faith, through a Bahá'í funeral. But because the children were scattered, Ethel to Puerto Rico and Wanda (who is not a Bahá'í) to Alaska, Norman, whose religious convictions also laid elsewhere, provided a proper Methodist service for John.

     Today, the family, diverse in their religious convictions (only Ethel is a Bahá'í) and with the variety of viewpoints and feelings every family has, expresses a common pride in John Wilcott. Bahá'ís see him as a Bahá'í pioneer to Montana, settling in a place to teach and establish the Faith in an act of personal sacrifice, fortitude and Faith in God. His family, however, know him personally as a pioneer of the American West, a homesteader whose will with grit, determination and that same faith in the God of us all planted himself in the Montana prairie and let himself become a part of it. This was a man whose determined will brought him to the West and, with faith, brought him through all the trouble the West could give him. John Henry Wilcott was truly a pioneer twice over.

Chapter 5

Bibliography and Acknowledgements

Stockman, Robert H.,
The Bahá'í Faith in America, Vol. 2: Early Expansion, 1900-1912.
George Ronald, Oxford, England, 1995

Hollinger, Richard,
Community Histories: Studies in the Babí and Bahá'í Religions, Vol. 6.
Kalimat Press, Los Angeles, California, 1992

Malone, Michael P. and Roeder, Richard B.,
Montana, a History of Two Centuries.
University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington and London, England, 1976

Star of the West, Vol. 1, No. 14, November 23, 1910.

Thanks to the following people:

Ms. Gail E.N. Drong, my wife, who originally proposed this paper to me and supported me during several days of preparation and writing.

Mr. Alastair L. Drong, my son, who provided the technical support in training my computer to obey instantly, exactly and completely.

Ms. Kay Maloney, my friend of Great Falls, Montana, who arranged contacts with Wilcott family members and provided me with the raw material from the National Bahá'í Archives.

The National Bahá'í Archives of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, without whose offices the priceless materials of our national Bahá'í history would be hopelessly unavailable.

The Butte Bahá'í Archives of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Butte, Montana and Ms. Betty Bennett, the Assembly secretary whose services were likewise beyond valuation.

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