February 1847: Birth of Thornton Chase – a Disciple of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, “the first to embrace the Cause of Baha’u’llah in the Western world”

Thornton was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, 22 February 1847. In June 1894 when he was traveling in Chicago as an insurance salesman he met Ibrahim Kheiralla, who introduced him to the Baha'i Faith. Later that same year, along with four others, he embraced the Cause and began actively to teach. Although not the first believer chronologically ‘Abdu’l-Baha recognized him as the first believer in America, and gave him the title of Thabit (meaning Steadfast). He visited 'Abdu'l-Baha in 'Akka in 1907, and shortly after his return he was transferred to California, where his teaching of the Baha'i Faith intensified. He published several books -- principle among which was his memoir of his visit with 'Abdu'l- Baha entitled ‘In Galilee and In Spirit and In Truth’, his letters, and poems before his death on 30 September 1912, in Los Angeles. When 'Abdu'l-Baha was in America that year and learned of his passing, He made a special journey to Inglewood Cemetery, and after some words of prayer said, "This is a personage who will not be forgotten. For the present his worth is not known, but in the future it will be inestimably dear. His sun will be ever shining, his star will ever bestow the light." For further information about this important American believer, refer to Stockman's biography, Thornton Chase: First American Baha'i. (Adapted from the ‘Historical Dictionary of the Baha’i Faith’ by Hugh Adamson)