Book Nook: The Righteous Remnant - the House of David, by Robert S. Fogarty
The Kent State University Press recently reissued a new edition of Robert Fogarty's classic study of a religious sect, the House of David, a once thriving community based in Benton Harbor, Michigan. In "The Righteous Remnant - the House of David" Fogarty traces the origins of this group all the way back to the 17th Century in what was known as the "Anglo-Israelite millennial tradition" and in the prophecies of a mystic named Joanna Southcott.
By the 20th Century this sect was being led by Benjamin and Mary Purnell. Under the Purnells the House of David had become a flourishing business enterprise with an amusement park, a fruit packaging business, and a popular traveling baseball team. Benjamin Purnell ultimately abused his authority and eventually became involved in a sex scandal and the spectacular trial which ensued.
Robert Fogarty is a leading authority on religious sects. He had a distinguished career teaching history at Antioch College and he is the long-time editor of the Antioch Review. In this interview he described his first encounter with the House of David. It occurred at a basketball game in New York City back in the 1950's. Fogarty also shared his knowledge about a religious group that once provided water cures in Glen Helen during the mid-19th Century. Over at Antioch College Horace Mann was not too enthralled with some of this group's practices.