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Bahai History of Wichita 1902

Information and documents have recently come to light regarding the very earliest Bahá’í (Baha’i) activity in Wichita.  Very little is known about these believers and their existence would be totally unknown except for one thing: they wrote to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Head of the Bahá’í Faith, and He answered them!
In 1902 two tablets were sent at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s instruction to two believers in Wichita in response to their letters to Him.  Both of these letters were translated on August 19, 1902, in New York, City by Ali Kuli Khan who sent and received letters between American believers and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.  It is likely that the letters to and from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá were sent together, that was common practice of the time.
Very little is known about these two Bahá’ís in Wichita.  One had shared the Bahá’í message with the other.  A phrase in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s letter indicated that more than one soul had responded to his teaching, whether in Wichita or some other place is unknown.
The one who did the teaching was Fred G. Hale.  The city directory for 1902 gives his address as 430 S. Market.  He is listed in the city directory only for the year 1902.  The listing indicates that he would not be in the city very long.  His occupation is stated as, “trav man,” meaning traveling sales or business man.  His home was on the east coast, in Jersey City, N.J.
The text of the Tablet to Hale begins (the spelling is authentic):
       “To Mr. Fred G. Hale
       “Wichita, Kansas
       “He is God!
       “O Thou who art attracted to the Fragrances of God!
       “Verily I read thy letter of Thanksgiving to God.  For He hath illumined thy heart with the light of the Mightest Guidance, dilated thy breast through the Fragrance of the Garden of His Kingdom the Abha, caused thee to speak His praise in that remote and extensive country, and hath enabled thee to guide Souls who are attracted to the Beauty of God and enkindled by the fire of His Love at this moment.
       “By the Lord of Host.  God hath ordained for nobody any good greater than this, or any Spirit more shining than this, or any spirit more active than this.
       “Were the dominions of the whole and entire earth to be thine, it would not equal this great Dominion which is no other than Spreading the Guidance of God.
       “For as much as the earthly dominion is like unto the Kingdom of Edward VII, King of England; his coronation day became unto him the day of griefs, the day of sorrows, and the days of moaning.  His joy was changed into abundant sorrows, and the light of happiness was transformed into the darkness of a gloomy night.
       “This is the condition of the world, its honor, its dominion, its glory and affluence!”
It is very interesting that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá describes Wichita.  Being the first letter from Wichita, and the distance from Wichita to Haifa, it would very be a remote and extensive country.
The second Bahá’í known to be in Wichita in 1902 was Frank Dyer.  Fred Hale wrote that he has the Tablet sent to Dyer but it did not arrive until after he (Fred) had left Wichita.  Dyer had left Wichita even before himself, and he does not know how to contact him.  He had tried for three years to find him, but was unable to do so.  It is likely then that Dyer’s Tablet never reached him. 
A search found two Frank Dyers in Wichita in 1900 and 1902.  One continued his residence into the time of the 1903-4 city directory and beyond.  He was the superintendent of schools – not the Bahá’í.
The second Frank Dyer was a bookkeeper, the city directory does not say where.  In 1900 he lived at the corner of 19th and Water streets, in 1902 he lived at 1851 N. Lawrence.  He was not married.  He is not listed in the city directory for 1903-1904.  Given that he moved at least three times in these four years, was unmarried and that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed him as “youngman,” he had not settled down, so his movement from place to place is not surprising.
The tablet reads:
“To Mr. F. Dyer (upon him be Beha’Ullah!)
       O thou spiritual youth and merciful youngman!  Consider the Grace of thy Master: how He hath directed thee to the Fountain of Salvation, until thou has drunk from the Salsabil (clear water of life) of the Guidance of God, in this holy and rich garden!  Cling to this Firm handle and make thy feet steady in This path; so that the Bounties of thy Supreme Lord may successively pour upon thee and make thee a sign of His Mighty Knowledge.
     Upon thee be greeting and praise!

The existence of these Tablets proves that the Bahá’í history of Wichita begins at least as early as 1902. 

Entry: Bahai History of Wichita 1902

Author: Duane L. Herrmann

Author information: Herrmann has degrees in education and history from Fort Hays State University. He has published widely on the history of the Bahai faith with publications now in a dozen countries in four languages. His history book By Thy Strengthening Grace received the Ferguson, Kansas, History Book Award in 2007. He has actively studied the Bahai faith since 1969.

Date Created: August 2016

Date Modified: July 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.