House of David Collection
Scope and Contents
The first items in this collection are (20) black and white postcards measuring 3.5” x 5.5”. The first (4) postcards are related to the House of David baseball teams. The next (4) postcards show different scenes of the miniature railroad that operated at the House of David amusement park. There are also (2) postcards that feature the “midget autos” that were built and maintained by House of David members. The next (4) postcards show miscellaneous scenes from the House of David community. There is also (1) postcard that features a photo of Benjamin Purcell, the found of the House of David. The last (5) postcards are all dated and feature: (1) The House of David Ladies Orchestra ca. 1950, (1) the House of David Grand Prize winning float from the Benton Harbor Blossom Parade 1952, (1) the House of David Grand Prize winning float from the Blossom Parade 1953, (1) the House of David First Prize winning float from the Blossom Parade 1955, and (1) the House of David First Prize winning float from the Blossom Parade 1956.
The last postcard measures 6” x 9” and is a color photograph of the miniature train at the House of David Amusement Park.
The next item in this collection is a reproduction black and white photograph of children driving the “midget autos” at the House of David.
The next folder in this collection contains (4) menus from the House of David vegetarian restaurant at Eden Springs.
The next item in the collection is a flyer that offers details about and a map directing travelers to the House of David Travel Trailer Park.
Also in this collection is a flyer that gives details about and the sponsors for the House of David Talent Show.
The next folder in this collection contains (2) milk bottles lids for House of David Pasteurized Milk.
The next items in this collection are religious pamphlets: (1)“The Key of the House of David”, (1) “Where Did Cain Get His Wife?”, (1) “The Little Book in the Hand of the Angel”, (1) “What is the Soul?”, and (2) which offer a brief explanation of what the House of David believes.
All of these pamphlets were published by the House of David but do not bear any publication dates.
The last item in this collection is a copy of the House of David newsletter, Shiloh’s Messenger of Wisdom Vol. No. 68.
- House of David (Religious society) (Organization)
Biographical / Historical
The House of David was a religious society established in 1903 in Benton Harbor, Michigan by Benjamin Purcell and his wife Mary. The society was based on the writings and teachings espoused by Joanna Southcott in 1792. By 1906, the House owned about 1,000 acres, on which the colony harvested fruit from a dozen orchards and cultivated grain. The commune had its own cannery, carpenter shop, coach factory, dairy, tailor shop, and steam laundry. They also owned and operated their own electricity plant, providing lighting to the community. It had three brass bands and two orchestras, and a zoological garden.
Purnell was a sports enthusiast and encouraged the members of the members of the society to play sports, especially baseball, to build physical and spiritual discipline. In 1913, the House of David began to play competitive baseball and they soon became famous as a barnstorming baseball team which toured rural America from the 1920s through the 1950s, playing amateur and semi-pro teams in exhibition games. The team members wore long hair and beards as they played.
The House of David also operated a world-famous amusement park and zoo. The amusement park featured a miniature railroad that could carry around passengers several miles around the periphery of the park. The House of David also established "The Springs of Eden Park" which became a popular Michigan vacation spot in the 1930s.
Language of Materials
This collection consists of .25 cubic feet and contains materials related to the House of David religious community, amusement park, and baseball team in Benton Harbor, Michigan. These items were purchased with funds from the Starring Endowment and were received by the Archives and Regional History Collection on March 15, 2014.
The House of David Collection consists of a variety of materials, including: (20) black and white postcards, (1) color postcard, (1) black and white reproduction photograph, (4) menus from the House of David vegetarian restaurant, (1) flyer with a map directing visitors to the House of David Travel Trailer Park, (1) flyer for the House of David Amusement Park Talent Show, (2) milk bottle lids for House of David Pasteurized Milk, (4) pamphlets measuring 6” x 4” entitled: “The Key of the House of David”, “Where Did Cain Get His Wife?”, “The Little Book in the Hand of the Angel”, and “What is the Soul?”, (2) copies of a pamphlet that offers information about the House of David, and (1) copy of the House of David newsletter, Shiloh’s Messenger of Wisdom, Vol. No. 68.
All of the items in this collection are in good condition with very little evidence of damage. The postcards, restaurant menus, and the milk bottle lids have all been placed in archival safe sleeves to protect them from damage.
This collection was purchased utilizing funds from the Starring Endowment and was received by the Archives and Regional History Collection on March 15, 2014.
- House of David (Religious society) (Organization)
- Purnell, Benjamin Franklin (1861-1927) (Author, Person)
- House of David Collection Finding Aid
- Benedict Chatelain
- approximately 2014
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository
Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US