The Mormon King of Beaver Island

When Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon faith, died in 1844, his successor Brigham Young took most of Smith’s followers to Utah territory. But not all of them. Others were led by James Jesse Strang, who dreamed of a community for his followers. Responding to orders from an angel that appeared to him, he took those followers to Beaver Island, Michigan. They quickly built roads, farms, schools, and businesses, and established a government with Strang as its head. He even declared himself king! Within a few years, almost all the non-Mormon residents of Beaver Island had left.

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Strang enacted some questionable practices, like public punishment for transgressors, and polygamy, which he had earlier rejected. He had both supporters and enemies, which makes tracking down the truth about him difficult. A reputation for piracy grew up around the island, and it was said that Beaver Island residents were eager to rob any passing ship. Others say that was blown out of proportion. Strang was also said to have poached wives from other men. He was eventually killed in 1856 by two of his own followers, and his home was burned to the ground. Almost 200 years later, people still can’t agree on whether Strang was an upstanding founding father of the community or a deranged cult leader. Read of the rise and fall of King Strang at Atlas Obscura.

Source: neatorama

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