Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

Uniting Northern Illinois & Chicagoland

Palatine resident celebrates ancestor's contribution to Baha'i temple


Northern Illinois USA Glen Ellyn, IL

Barbara Tobin of Palatine visits the exhibit honoring her great-grandmother, Nettie Tobin, at the Baha'i Temple in Wilmette.

Barbara Tobin led a delegation of Baha'is to Nettie Tobin's gravesite, in Des Plaines, to say prayers and lay flowers for the 100th anniversary.

By Richard Brill,

July 19th, 2012

Palatine's Barbara Tobin is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Wilmette's Baha'i House of Worship. This national landmark and center of the Baha'i Faith in North America is commemorating its centennial with yearlong events.

Tobin recalls how her great-grandmother, Esther (Nettie) Tobin, got the heavy, rough, limestone cornerstone of the temple from a Chicago Loop construction site and carried it to Wilmette via trolley, a child's wagon, and even on the shoulder of a friend for a short distance.

"My great-grandmother was one of the earliest members of the Baha'i Faith in North America," explained Tobin.

Nettie Tobin, a poor Chicago seamstress, was a dedicated Baha'i and wanted to contribute in some way to the construction of the temple.

In May 1912, her piece of limestone was chosen as the cornerstone and blessed by the global leader of the Baha'i Faith, Abdu'l Baha, who traveled here from Persia. Speaking to about 300 followers on a hilly Wilmette bluff, Abdu'l Baha called for "Nettie's stone" and asked representatives from various races and nations to turn a bit of soil with a shovel. He rolled in the cornerstone and described the future temple, which was finally completed in 1953 -- after two World Wars and the Great Depression.

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