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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.

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Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them. Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.