The Israelite House of David was established at Benton Harbor,
Michigan, in 1903 by Benjamin Purnell, a former roving
preacher, and his wife Mary. In 1895, Purnell received a revelation that he was
the "seventh messenger" described in the Book of Revelation. The
previous six "angels" were Joanna Southcott, Richard Brothers, George
Turner, William Shaw, John Wroe, and James Jezreel, all of England. As outlined
in biblical scripture, the function of the seventh angel was to gather together
the tribes of Israel prior to the second coming of Christ.
Incorporated under a religious charter, the Israelite House of
David was a commonwealth with all possessions of members surrendered to Purnell
who in turn provided for their support from a central fund which he
administered. Most of the original members of the colony came from Indiana and
Ohio, but this number increased dramatically following a trip to Australia in
1904-05 when Purnell appeared before the members of the previous messengerís
followers, James Jezreel. During its heyday in the 1920s, the Benton Harbor
colony numbered more than 900 members.
Activities of the colony included a farm, numerous commercial
ventures including an amusement park, an open air tabernacle, a vegetarian
restaurant, hotel, bands, crafts for sale in a gift shop, and a printing press.
The colony was also remembered for its traveling baseball team with playersí
trademark braided long hair and beards.
After Ben Purnellís death the colony split in 1930 and the formation of a new colony, the Israelite
House of David as Re-organized by Mary Purnell, later shortened to Maryís City
of David, led by Purnellís widow Mary. The original colony which had earlier
shortened its name to the House of David was led by Judge H. T. Dewhirst, the
colonyís chief secretary. In 1966, membership in the House of David numbered
under 100, though some operations continued, such as the miniature train
The above is an excerpt from
MICHIGAN HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS
BENTLEY HISTORICAL LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
House of David Collection, 1795-1980
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Many of the incredible
accomplishments that came
from the House of David include the Waffle Cone,
Automated Bowling Lanes, The Pepper Game.
For extensive historical information please visit
House of David - Internet Presence
House of David Baseball Team
Scales Train History
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