Now, here's where the history of the island gets really interesting. I mentioned that this is the Mormon Print Shop and you're probably wondering how it became that. Well, when Joseph Smith (founder of the Church of Later-Day Saints) was killed, there was some confusion as to whom was going to succeed him, Brigham Young or James Jesse Strang. For reasons too many to go into here, I'll just say that Strang lost out on his bid for leadership of that organization. However, he was a man who had a way with words and managed to gather quite a following, including some of Joseph Smiths' family.
This daguerreotype is of James Jesse Strang is from the book, "The King Strang Story" by Doyle C. Fitzpatrick and used with permission from his widow, Phyllis Fitzpatrick.
Events eventually led Strang to Beaver Island along with his followers. At the time of his arrival here there were only two trading posts and no town to speak of. The Strangites built homes, businesses, farms, roads and the like.
Strang's followers truly believed that he was the "true" leader of their church. Trained as a lawyer in New York state, he had a way about him that beckoned many to give up everything and follow him where ever he led....even to the middle of northern Lake Michigan. Eventually, his "visions" from God told him that taking plural wives was expected and that he was the "king" of his followers. Needless to say, these sorts of ideas didn't settle well with those island residents who were here before the Strangite invasion. Inevitably, problems arose and out numbered, the prior inhabitants moved off the island. Strang had himself crowned "King" and ruled until his death by assassination by two disgruntled followers in 1856. During that time he also procured for himself four more wives. With the advent of the second wife, his first decided that she'd had enough and she removed herself to Wisconsin with their children. To learn more about the fascinating life and times of Strang, check at your local library for the following books: King Strang: A Biography of James Jesse Strang by Robert P. Weeks, Assassination of a Michigan King: The Life of James Jesse Strang by Roger Van Noord, The King Strang Story by Doyle Fitzpatrick, The Kingdom of St. James by M. M. Quaife, The Diary of James J. Strang, Deciphered, Transcribed, Introduced and Annotated by Mark Strang and The Journal of Beaver Island History - Volume I plus various other books on the island are available through the Beaver Island Historical Society.
Before we get weighed down with too much history, we'll continue with our tour. Hopefully, you aren't all the way asleep after that history lesson.
Copyright ©1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 Beaver Island Virtual Tour All rights reserved. Hosted by Island Design