Benton Harbor, Mich. Israelite House of David, [ca. 1905-1920?]. First edition. Handbill printed recto and verso, approx. 6.75 x 4 inches. Cheap paper browning, a little edge wear and light staining; in very good condition. Item #18343
An ephemeral street preaching leaflet advertising Benjamin and Mary Purnell’s Israelite House of David, the communal Southcottite religious group known for its industrious colony in southwest Michigan and (among other things) its unshaven and unshorn barnstorming baseball team. This handbill lays out the basic arguments for the ingathering and restoration of the House of Israel, notes in passing the lineage of seven messengers, and makes reference to “our preparatory message, ‘The little Book Open,’ which should be read by every lover of Truth.” This refers to their tract known variously as The Little Book of Life, Open in the Hand of the Angel or The Little Book, in the Hand of the Angel, first published in Benton Harbor in 1903. OCLC notes an example at Hamilton College only. Yaple 368: “Benjamin and Mary had spent the early years of their career as street preachers in the midwestern United States, and they maintained that practice by sending out teams of street preachers from the colony’s inception probably until the 1920s.”.