Harriet Magee

Magee Family History

London Bahá'í History

Edith (Magee) Inglis
© Van den Hoonaard Papers, University of New Brunswick Archives, Fredericton, N.B.

The name, Edith Magee, will be forever remembered as the first Canadian resident to embrace the Bahá'í Faith. After a short time in London, Ontario, she moved on to New York, Green Acre and Virginia. But who was Edith Magee. What was her origins and how did she come to be a resident of London, Ontario?

George Greer Magee Family

We will start with the story of George G. Magee. He was born in the County of Tyrone, Ireland, 6 Dec 1813, the oldest son of Jonathan MAGEE and Elizabeth (GUY) MAGEE. He settled for a while in Massachusetts and moved on to Philadelphia. Eventually he found more favourable circumstances in London, Ontario. In London he worked as a clerk for four years and then went into business for himself in March of 1847. The History of Middlesex county, published in 1889, pays a glowing attribute to him and mentions him in several connections. In 1849 he is appointed a trustee of Common Schools. In 1855 and 1856 he is an alderman for ward 5 in London. In 1856 he was instrumental in getting money for the London & Port Stanley Railroad. He served on London City Council in 1874 and in 1879 worked with the city for the expansion of Market square. Thus George G. Magee was a very influential person in London's early days.

George and Mary Ann Magee were married in 1841. Their first son, Guy Magee, was born in Philadelphia on July 23, 1842. He got his education in London, Ontario and became a journalist in Chicago in 1862. He was a reporter for the tribune and went to the front as a war correspondent during the last year of the Civil war. When Mr Ballantyne retired, he took over the position of commercial and financial reporter until May of 1868. He also held positions such as city editor for both the Republican and the Times, associate editor for the Chronicle, telegraph editor for the Tribune, city editor for the Inter Ocean, and assistant city editor for the tribune. In 1883 he returned to the Times as the city editor. I have little information about him after that time until notices of his death were published in both the Tribune and the Times on June 6, 1919.

In 1844, George and Mary Ann Magee brought their second son into the world. I know little about him other that he died November 10, 1862 at eighteen years old and he rests at the family grave site in London, Ontario.

Jonathan Magee was born May 16th, 1849 and married Esther Annie George November 7th, 1878. Esther Annie was born November 25, 1854. They were married in Detroit, Michigan and their first daughter, Edith, was born June 29, 1879 in the USA. At some point Jonathan took up farming in London Township, Concession C, Lot 1. Harriet, their second daughter, was born October 3rd, 1883 and the records list Middlesex County as her birth place. A fourth son was born in 1852 who was named George Greer Magee after his father. It appears that he was a farmer and may have been know as Alfred. He died August 12, 1892 at 40 years of age. He is buried at the family plot in London.

Finally a daughter is born to George and Mary Magee and they proudly named her after her mother. Their joy was short lived for she was born in January of 1854 and died July 9 of the same year.

Eleven years later and a few years after the death of their son William, another daughter, Emma Charlotte, was brought into the world. She was born about 1865, She married a widower, William Yeats on January 5th, 1910. She was 45 and he was 67. She died December 28, 1945 and is buried with her parents and other family members.

Edith Magee

George Greer Magee was known to be an honest business man who considered the interests of his customers to be equal to his own. These high standards must have been passed down to his children and grand children. We see that his first son went on to have a very successful career in journalism. When Jonathan and his family left their farm about 1897, they moved into a brand new and very spacious home at 625 Wellington Street in London. It appears that Jonathan went into real estate as Jonathan Magee real estate is listed in the 1902 and 1903 directories. Edith's uncle, Guy, also played a big part in shaping a young girls future. She corresponded with him regularly and visited often. When Guy interviewed a Bahá'í, he sent word to Edith. She joined the faith in Chicago and took the good news back to her family in London. Her sister, her mother and two of her mother's sisters soon joined their numbers.

635 Wellington Street
625 Wellington Street, London, Ontario, Canada
the house the Magge family occupied from 1897 to 1906
© Photo by George McNeish


Esther Annie Magee is reported to have begun Bahá'í classes in 1999. She and Mrs. Culver were friends. Sometime between 1899 and 1906, the Culver family joined the faith. Their daughter, Dorothy Cress, reminisces about those days.

We lived in Canada, in London, Ontario, a little town. . . and a friend of ours — a Mrs. Magee, she had two daughters — Edith and Harriet. . . . One time. . . my mother said. "Well I think Mrs. Magee has gone crazy." And why she'd gone crazy was because she'd heard that Christ had come back — Christ had come back to earth. Of course, it was 'Abdu'l-Bahá (sic) and then, so from then on, Mrs. Magee, they became more and more interested and... all became Bahá'ís, then my mother did too. (Quoted in, "The Origins of the Baha'i Community of Canada" by Will Van den Hoonaard)

Jonathan Magee passed away on December 31, 1902. There is reports that Edith went to New York that same year to pursue music lessons. The London directory lists her at 625 Wellington Street in London until 1906. Her mother and her sister are listed at the same address.

In 1910, Edith married a renown journalist, William Otto Inglis. They brought a son into the world in 1912, the same year that 'Abdu'l-Bahá came to North America.

Magee Monument at Mount Pleasant Cemetery
The Magge monument at Mount Pleasant cemetery in London, Ontario, Canada
shows that Jonathan Magee and his daughter Harriet A. are buried there.
© Photo by George McNeish

When Edith's Sister, Harriet, passed away in January of 1915, the Inglis family is mentioned in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's letter to their mother.

To Mrs. A. E. Magee—May her soul be happy!

O thou afflicted one!

In this great catastrophe the eyes are weeping and the hearts are burning, because that incomparable plant was growing and developing with infinite joy and fragrance in the garden of the love of God. She was stirred into cheerfulness by the wafting of the breeze of providence; day by day she was progressing, and she was at all times the cause of the consolation of the hearts of the friends. I will never forget her, for she was one of the most important personages. But it was destined that she might become free from this material world, the world of physical sufferings and tribulations, and hasten toward the heavenly universe, so that through the showers of the cloud of grace she may obtain the utmost freshness and infinite delicacy and yield luscious fruits. Consequently be thou not unhappy, nor be thou grieved, for she is not counted amongst the dead. Nay rather she was dead, she became alive; she was evanescent, she became eternal; she was earthly, she became heavenly; she lived in the material world, she became wholly spiritual. Like unto a bird she was a prisoner and captive in the cage of this body. This cage was broken; that bird winged its way heavenward, and in the celestial rose-garden she became the associate and companion of other divine birds. Thou shalt find her in that rose-garden with the utmost joy and fragrance.

Convey on my behalf the utmost kindness and love to Mr. and Mrs. Inglis. I beg of God that in this affliction he may bestow upon them patience and consolation, and that they may educate their dear son in accord with their highest and purest standard. Upon thee be greeting and praise!


From Star of the West Vol. VII, No. 19 ; Ola 1, 72 (March 2, 1917)


March 2, 1915, the Star of the West included this announcement;

HARRIET MAGEE—Died January 16, 1915, at Green Acre, Eliot, Maine. She was an active worker in the Cause and for some time was Secretary of the Woman's Unity meeting in New York City. She was especially interested in the education of a little Persian girl through the Woman's Unity, which 'Abdu'l-Bahá had said to her should continue in that good work. The "Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab," which has now become so well known to all the Bahá'ís of the West, was started by his writing wonderfully descriptive letters to her of the daily life and events surrounding 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

Star of the West; Vol. V, Ola 1, 70 (March 2, 1915), No. 19


In 1910, the New York Bahá'ís were holding regular meetings every Sunday Morning except during the summer months. After a half hour of readings, a brief talk and some singing, a sacred solo would be rendered, usually by Miss Edith Magee.

BAHAI NEWS Vol. 1 Chicago, (Aug. 20, 1910) Kamal No. 9 reported; "Mrs. Ives and Mrs. Stansell, as well as Mrs. Magee and her daughters (all from New York) are now in Green Acre."

On June 29, 1912, Edith Inglis would have turned 33 years old. This is also the year her first child was born. There is no record of her being at the Unity Feast given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá that day, but what a birthday present it would have been! I am not sure when in that year her child was born, but, unless she was giving birth at that time, I can see no reason she would have missed this event. Below is the message 'Abdu'l-Bahá delivered that day.

29 June 1912
Talk at Unity Feast, Outdoors
West Englewood, New Jersey
Notes by Esther Foster

76.1 This is a delightful gathering; you have come here with sincere intentions, and the purpose of all present is the attainment of the virtues of God. The motive is attraction to the divine Kingdom. Since the desire of all is unity and agreement, it is certain that this meeting will be productive of great results. It will be the cause of attracting a new bounty, for we are turning to the Kingdom of Abha, seeking the infinite bestowals of the Lord. This is a new Day, and this hour is a new Hour in which we have come together. Surely the Sun of Reality with its full effulgence will illumine us, and the darkness of disagreements will disappear. The utmost love and unity will result; the favors of God will encompass us; the pathway of the Kingdom will be made easy. Like candles these souls will become ignited and made radiant through the lights of supreme guidance. Such gatherings as this have no equal or likeness in the world of mankind, where people are drawn together by physical motives or in furtherance of material interests, for this meeting is a prototype of that inner and complete spiritual association in the eternal world of being.

76.2 True Bahá'í meetings are the mirrors of the Kingdom wherein images of the Supreme Concourse are reflected. In them the lights of the most great guidance are visible. They voice the summons of the heavenly Kingdom and echo the call of the angelic hosts to every listening ear. The efficacy of such meetings as these is permanent throughout the ages. This assembly has a name and significance which will last forever. Hundreds of thousands of meetings shall be held to commemorate this occasion, and the very words I speak to you today shall be repeated in them for ages to come. Therefore, be ye rejoiced, for ye are sheltered beneath the providence of God. Be happy and joyous because the bestowals of God are intended for you and the life of the Holy Spirit is breathing upon you.

76.3 Rejoice, for the heavenly table is prepared for you.

76.4 Rejoice, for the angels of heaven are your assistants and helpers.

76.5 Rejoice, for the glance of the Blessed Beauty, Bahá'u'lláh, is directed upon you.

76.6 Rejoice, for Bahá'u'lláh is your Protector.

76.7 Rejoice, for the everlasting glory is destined for you.

76.8 Rejoice, for the eternal life is awaiting you.

76.9 How many blessed souls have longed for this radiant century, their utmost hopes and desires centered upon the happiness and joy of one such day as this. Many the nights they passed sleepless and lamenting until the very morn in longing anticipation of this age, yearning to realize even an hour of this time. God has favored you in this century and has specialized you for the realization of its blessings. Therefore, you must praise and thank God with heart and soul in appreciation of this great opportunity and the attainment of this infinite bestowal -- that such doors have been opened before your faces, that such abundance is pouring down from the cloud of mercy and that these refreshing breezes from the paradise of Abha are resuscitating you. You must become of one heart, one spirit and one susceptibility. May you become as the waves of one sea, stars of the same heaven, fruits adorning the same tree, roses of one garden in order that through you the oneness of humanity may establish its temple in the world of mankind, for you are the ones who are called to uplift the cause of unity among the nations of the earth.

76.10 First, you must become united and agreed among yourselves. You must be exceedingly kind and loving toward each other, willing to forfeit life in the pathway of another's happiness. You must be ready to sacrifice your possessions in another's behalf. The rich among you must show compassion toward the poor, and the well-to-do must look after those in distress. In Persia the friends offer their lives for each other, striving to assist and advance the interests and welfare of all the rest. They live in a perfect state of unity and agreement. Like the Persian friends you must be perfectly agreed and united to the extent and limit of sacrificing life. Your utmost desire must be to confer happiness upon each other. Each one must be the servant of the others, thoughtful of their comfort and welfare. In the path of God one must forget himself entirely. He must not consider his own pleasure but seek the pleasure of others. He must not desire glory nor gifts of bounty for himself but seek these gifts and blessings for his brothers and sisters. It is my hope that you may become like this, that you may attain to the supreme bestowal and be imbued with such spiritual qualities as to forget yourselves entirely and with heart and soul offer yourselves as sacrifices for the Blessed Perfection. You should have neither will nor desire of your own but seek everything for the beloved of God and live together in complete love and fellowship. May the favors of Bahá'u'lláh surround you from all directions. This is the greatest bestowal and supreme bounty. These are the infinite favors of God

('Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 213 - 215)

According to Mahmud's Diary, August 21, 1912, Green Acre, ME, We find that 400 people sang praise to 'Abdu'l-Bahá that day. Afterwards the Master dined at Esther Annie Magee's summer home.
See: http://centenary.bahai.us/vignette/group-four-hundred-people-sang-unison-songs-praise-abdu-l-baha
See also: http://jacklbushjr.blogspot.ca/2013/08/august-21st-in-bahai-history.html

On a petition to get 'Abdu'l-Bahá to return to North America, Edith Inglis has her name added in Montclair NJ and in New York NY.

In 1920, a Bahá'í congress is held in New York. Various committees are set up for this event. Edith Inglis appears as the Chairman of the Music committee.

In 1943 a national committee is set up to commemorate the Unity Feast given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 1912. Among its officers is Mrs. Edith Inglis, Chairman, 474 West 238th Street, Fieldstone. N. Y.

It appears that Edith (Magee) Inglis was very active in the Bahá'í community throughout her life. She died in 1971, the year after I became a Bahá'í. It would have be nice if I could have met her, but that meeting was not destined for this lifetime. Just knowing that she had lived in London, Ontario, Canada and that her father and devoted sister are resting at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in this city, is enough to cause London Bahá'ís to feel a close connection to her. This brief tribute does not do enough to acknowledge what she has done. Perhaps more information will come to the surface in the future. If you know any other information about the Magee family, feel free to contact the author.

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