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House of David

Image - Benjamin Purnell

Benjamin Purnell

Description of the House of David Collection

These are materials related to the Israelite House of David community founded by Benjamin and Mary Purnell in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The Israelite House of David, and The Israelite House of David as Reorganized by Mary Purnell (commonly called Mary's City of David), communities are active at present. Popularly known for their athletic teams (baseball and basketball), amusement parks and jazz bands, the Israelites are a fascinating and understudied part of American history. The faith that underpins the public face of the Israelites is rooted in the Bible, and mystical Christianity from Jane Leade through the six messengers of the Christian Israelite tradition beginning with Joanna Southcott in the late eighteenth century.

The Special Collections Department of Hamilton College holds thousands of manuscripts, imprints, ephemera, visual materials, audio/video materials, and artifacts documenting the entire history of the Israelites. The printed materials can be researched through our online catalog, ALEX.


Research on site at Hamilton College

To schedule a research visit, please contact us in advance.

Christian Goodwillie, Director and Curator of Special Collections and Archives
E-mail: cgoodwil (at) hamilton (dot) edu
Telephone: (315) 859-4447

Special Collections
Burke Library
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
Regular hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

View House of David materials on our other website

House of David materials on this website

  • 396 Photographs and slides
  • Jezreelite Messenger of wisdom and Israel's guide (vol. 1, 1887-1888, 7 scattered issues)
  • Jezreelite Pioneer of Wisdom (vols. 1-10, 1889-1899, all 252 issues) (vols. 11-14, 1901-1906, 11 scattered issues)
  • Shiloh's Messenger of Wisdom - Index (vols. 1 to 12)
  • Shiloh's Messenger of Wisdom (vols. 1 to 15, 1903-1919)
    • Additional copies of a few issues are available. See separate listings below for copies 1-3.


Allen Benson combing his beard
PA 1022; Text from caption glued to back: Wash. "Acme photo" Washington Bureau. Shades of King Ben. Allen Benson, star House of David pitcher, just signed by Clark Griffith as a moundsman for the fast slipping Senators, pictured in Washington uniform as he combed his red beard before taking initial practice with the Nats Aug. 14th. Bureaus, Wash'n. Cleve. 8-14-34. Your credit line must read (Acme).; Stamped on back: This photo is supplied by Acme Newspictures Washington Bureau 1322 New York Ave. Washington, D.C. Not to be used for dyndication or advertising purposes without written permission
Allen Benson in Washington Senators uniform posed while batting
Stamped on back: Aug 15 215 PM 193[unclear], Front: Allen Benson; Back: Baseball, PA 1045; Stamped on back: Aug 25, 1934; Stamped on back: The Cleveland News reference department Cleveland, Ohio; Text from caption glued to back: Associated Press photo from Washington Bureau please use credit. Bearded menace of the ball parks. Not since the days of Pop Anderson and Abner Doubleday has a face and figure like that of Allen Benson graced the diamonds of the big leagues. Introducing Allen, Benson, 25 year old pitching star who was signed by the Washington Senators. Benson broke into the big time after making a reputation with the House of David team under the tutelage of Grover Cleveland Alexander. hkw--Aug. 14-- wx list- cxfx ag-) Associated Press photo.
Arena, Benton Harbor, Mich., 6-18-3
Jack Dempsey, Stage built just north of HoD property, Back: Arena, Benton Harbor, Mich. [i.e., Michigan] Dimsey [Demsey?] 6-18-3, PA 1052; Stamped on back: 24
Arterene Vieritz on a horse on the House of David dairy farm
Dairy barn built in 1936, first refrigerated barn in America, H of D [i.e., House of David] Dairy Farm, Arterene Vieritz, mid 40's, PA 1018
Arthur Vieritz on a tractor
Arthur Vieritz, PA 1016, 106
Arthur Vieritz, age 16 years
Arthur Vieritz, age 16 years, 1915 arrived at H of D
Auscos baseball team in uniform on a baseball field
Auto Specialties Company, Saint Joseph, MI Fielded base ball team and built their own base ball field, Edgewater Park in SJ with a night lighting system.
Auscos baseball team posed in uniform against dugout
John Tucker 5th in from left, standing
Batter, catcher, and umpire at home plate
Reference "The HoD BB Team, Team uniform chronology Bertolino Hawkins, Arcadia, 2000 This is a fake HoD team mid-1930s, PA 1046
Beer garden, House of David park
Large auditorium structure (where Mary and Benjamin held meetings and gave sermons both to colony only and open to the public) in background was demolished in 1933-34 just before prohibition ended.
Benjamin and Mary Purnell posed outside
Benjamin wearing his formal 1910 portrait clothing. Mary is wearing her "golden watch" upon her breast
Blossom Festival parade in progress
Back: Bossom Festival, Benton Harbor, 1935-; Stamped on back: A129
Bob Hallisey, Captain and guard of the House of David basketball team
Bob Hallisey, Capt [i.e., captain] + Guard, House of David; PA 1039; Stamped on back: Received Examiner Reference Library Feb 4 1949; Text from caption glued to back: Fuzzy-face - Definitely not one of American's one man in five who shaves every day, Bob Hallisey has been hiding behind his luxuriant growth of foliage for the past four years as a veteran star on the comic House of David touring basketball team. Hallisey will see action at Kezar Pavilion tonight against the clowning Harlem Globetrotters in an exhibition doubleheader also involving the Kansas City Stars and New York Nationals.
Bobby Gahnsan, Walter Gahnsan, Burt Mitchell, Pete Scott posing with the miniature railroad
Size picture 7 1/2 x 10, Bobby Gahnsan, Walter Gahnsan, Burt Mitchell, Pete Scott, PA 1026