The House of David was a religious community founded in 1903 by Benjamin and Mary Purnell. Based in and around Benton Harbor, MI, the commune required its members to refrain from sex, haircuts, shaving, and the eating of meat. Starting around 1907 the community ran "The Springs of Eden Park" which became a popular vacation spot in the 1930s.
The House of David organized a famous baseball team, which toured from the 1920s to the 1950s. The House of David also organized musical bands, which toured the country almost non-stop primarily on the three top vaudeville circuits: the Pantages, the Keith and the Orpheum. The House of David also operated a world-famous amusement park and zoo.
The commune reached its peak in 1907-1927. In the 1920s, newspapers began running articles attacking Benjamin Purnell, who was accused of violating the commune's oath of celibacy. Purnell was tried for "public immorality," and 13 young women, placed under oath, confessed to having had sex with him. The trial led to Purnell's expulsion from the commune in 1927, and the former leader died in 1929. His body was mummified and kept in a glass coffin in the commune.
The group suffered further splintering after his death and ultimately split into two groups. One group, run by Purnell's wife Mary, remained successful until her death at 91 in 1953. The group has since declined, but still has a few dozen members.
Here is a link that someone provided me with. I was unable to open it on this antique computer.
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