1903 - 2003 Centennial
"Behold, the end of a Century cometh."
Mary Purnell, Book of Heaven, 1939
Israelite House of David, 1903
as reorganized by Mary Purnell, 1930
Today's Mary's City of David
The actual centennial by date is 1902-2002, being that the Israelite House of David, Church of the New Eve, Body of Christ, was founded at Fostoria, Ohio, in that year, coinciding with the publication of a 780 page hand written manuscript, which became known as the "covenant message" to the House of David, entitled, "The Star of Bethlehem, The Living Roll of Life". Co-authored by Mary and Benjamin Purnell, this manuscript written over a seven-year period, became the standard text to which peoples from the world over came to enjoin themselves, accepting its contents as being divinely inspired.
In 1902, the Purnells would complete their 7 years sojourn as itinerant preachers, traveling throughout mid-America, during which time they had attracted many interested parties, and had distributed throughout America a pamphlet that was addressed to the former six churches, showing forth their credentials as the successor to six inspired messengers in England, completing the number Seven of the prophetic lineage.
The following in America of James Jezreel (the sixth Messenger) was large, and Mary and Benjamin had previously been members of a Detroit communal organization (1891-1895), which commissioned them as road preachers. The New and Latter House of Israel, based at Gillingham, England, was the headquarters, and the Detroit assembly was a branch organization.
The Purnells were successful in gathering an impressive interest all across America, most of whom were associated with the New and Latter House of Israel, and conversant with the Jezreel manuscript, "Extracts From the Flying Roll", 1871. The publication of the "Star" in mid summer 1902 gave the "gathering date" to be 1903. Many thought to come to Fostoria, but were cautioned to await directions, as the actual site for this newborn Seventh Church was not yet determined. In the early winter months of 1903, while at Fostoria, Mary Purnell received communication of the Spirit that Benton Harbor, Michigan would become the site. It is not clear whether the Purnells, in their seven years travels, ever visited Benton Harbor, but there were a circle of believers there, amongst whom were the Albert and Louis Baushke families, who were also former members of the English, New and Latter House of Israel. Letters between the Purnells in Fostoria and Albert Baushke, dated February, 1903, show the elation of the Baushke patriarch, which had previously prophesied to his family that he would entertain the Seventh Messenger in his new Colfax Avenue home. Albert sent a complete profile of Benton Harbor; Benjamin Purnell sent Silas Mooney ahead to find suitable agricultural properties in Berrien County, and the Baushke family sent $500.00 for the party of seven at Fostoria to travel to Michigan. They arrived on Saint Patrick's Day, 1903.
1903 Centennial 2003
The early months at Benton Harbor were a mix of unbound enthusiasm and a heaviness over the tragic death of Hettie Purnell, age 16, just weeks before the scheduled departure for southwestern Michigan. Mary Purnell's health was quite precarious for the first several years owing to the rigorous 7 years on the road and the subsequent loss of her only daughter.
The "gathering" grew quickly from all across America, those that had received the Star of Bethlehem, and accepted its teaching as the "covenant message" and inspired message of the Seventh messenger. 1903 saw a second edition printed at the all-new and up-to-date printing plant (the Ark) on Cribb Street. The first issue of the monthly "Shiloh Messenger of Wisdom" was published December 14, carrying on page eight an article heading, CITY of DAVID, which titled organization did not come into existence until exactly 30 years later, December 14, 1933. Published by Mary and Benjamin with notices that all money orders, bank drafts were to be made to the name of Mary Purnell, as it is today, Mary Purnell, Trustee, 2003.
The subsequent history can be obtained through the web site, materials online within the gift shop pages, by mail service, or by visiting the community in Benton Harbor.
The reorganization of the Israelite House of David in 1930, by Mary Purnell was based on the power struggle within the colony over properties, assets, wealth, future and direction, after the death of Benjamin Purnell in 1927. Mary Purnell had warned the membership in meetings as early as 1909, which the amusement park and success had already taken precedence over a strict and faithful practice called upon by the messengers. Mary's voice was a return to the basics of the orthodox beginnings, and her following was of that persuasion, holding with original doctrines from the Star of Bethlehem. Thus Mary's reorganization plan was for a whole new community following the original and austere practices of celibacy, and communal living, while she moved forward teaching from her new auditorium, and publishing her inspirational tracts. As Mary's auditorium was being built, the House of David park auditorium ( where Mary and Benjamin had originally preached)was being taken down, and soon a beer garden was in place, 1933, which more aptly suited the grandiose business designs of Mr. H.T. Dewhirst.
As the Star of Bethlehem had foretold, the woman would be knocked down through greed and jealousies ... ... ... ..and when finished, the woman would be found at the right hand. Mary moved her plans away from the wealth and successful Eden Springs Park, eastward 2 blocks ... .or to the right hand.
The Star of Bethlehem (third edition, pg. 187) also foretold that the "gathering" would be into the "City of David", 30 years before it came into being.
A widely circulated flyer from 1944, headlined, "The Ingathering and Restoration of Israel at the City of David", long before restoration was necessary. Nearly 60 years later, Mary's City of David, is in its 12th year of restorations to our historic properties; restoring its former area and regional presence with our museum and tours; restoring our religious/cultural interests through our museum and website exposures, and is become recognizably the heir of faith, being now America's third oldest Christian community, a continuum following the inspiration of its founders over 100 years.
Mary's reorganization was simply to reaffirm the original tenets and practice of faith from 1902-03 foundation, and accordingly a fourth edition of " The Star of Bethlehem" was necessarily printed in 1959 to meet new membership applicants desiring to read the "covenant message".
A church is not a building. It is an association of people in fellowship.
An organization is not a piece of property, it is the successful and continued practice of the fellows in partnership and cooperation to fulfill the goals and standards of the original charter of that delegation.
Thus we observe a Centennial of faithful practice.
"Men will think it strange to see women coming forward in these last days, taking the places of men in many walks of life, irresistible, efficient and worthy." Mary Purnell Letters
"He (Benjamin) told us all things that would happen during his absence, and we now behold them being fulfilled right before our very eyes." Book of Heaven, pg. 147
"Then remember, Oh, Israel that the day of visitation has come, and I will leave thee for a few days, and then I will return with ten thousands of my saints, for the end of a Century cometh." Book of Heaven, 1939
1903 January 2003
1st, 1908 ... Israelite House of David organizationally became a "voluntary Association".
1st, 1933 ... A News Palladium article quoting Judge Dewhirst, states that ¼ of a million people visited Eden Springs Park in 1932. The House of David had helped or sheltered 65 families or individuals along with providing 2 musical shows daily in the park, free to the unemployed.
1st, 1934 ... Mary Purnell's new Israelite House of David was in its fourth year of wonders in building an entire new community from the ground up. A new electrical power plant was being built, housing a 45-horse power Fairbanks Morris twin cylinder diesel (vertical) generator that would power the entire colony through 1942. A new sewage treatment plant was being constructed that could manage 30,000 gallons a day, or a population of 2500. The new "City of David" under Sister Mary's guidance had reached 300, over 80 new members had come to the "reorganization" in less than 4 years.
6th, 1930 ... Mary Purnell files a counter suit in the Circuit Court, a motion to dissolve the "temporary injunction" that Judge Charles E. White had granted Judge Dewhirst and his "official board" of the House of David a few weeks earlier. Dewhirst's filing had put before the court a decision by his board to remove Mary Purnell from any authority position within the House of David. Mary's record setting brief is 264 typewritten pages, and is asking Judge White to put all monies and assets of the House of David into a Trust until all members could be properly awarded their share of monies they contributed upon arrival and an allotment towards each member for services according to years within the colony. She is suing the House of David (official board) for $2,883,143.00 in damages that should go towards her 217 that are in her support. It is a final move on Mary Purnell's part to bring dissolution to the House of David, that Judge Dewhirst has now effectively gotten control of.
7th, 1946 ... Francis Thorpe, Secretary of Mary's City of David publishes "The Mantle of Shiloh", in which he shows prophecies fulfilled and how Mary is blessed with carrying on the spiritual work of the Israelite faith and movement.
9th, 1930 ... Mary's House of David basket ball team beat the national champion ladies team, the Taylor Trunks, 18 to 16 in a match filmed and is now in archival recordings.
10th, 1930 ... The Taylor Trunks turn around to defeat the House of David cagers, 16 to 10. All of the team players for Mary's team are colony members.
19th, 1929 ... Mary Purnell is locked out of the House of David park auditorium. She continues her planned sermon for that day by holding her meeting in the open lots to the east of the House of David.
19th, 1945 ... Mary's City of David purchases the remaining 54 acres of the original Eastman Springs properties from the Pugh family of Chicago , and is the last large property purchase of either colony to date.
19th, 1921 ... the House of David purchases contiguous properties on west Main Street and Colfax Avenue in downtown Benton Harbor from Humphrey S. Gray and A.S. Lindenfeld respectively. The colony plans to construct a large 7-story hotel complex.
27th, 1924 ... Coy Samuel Purnell dies in Benton Harbor at age 42, the only son of Mary and Benjamin. Perhaps the depths of the Purnell's darkest hour, as the State's defamation campaign against Benjamin's character was national news, his health had taken a decided downward spiral with tuberculosis and advanced diabetes, and the Federal courtrooms had granted a handsomely lucrative decision in favor of the John Hansel family. Sadly, Mary and Benjamin were now survivors to both of their children.
31st, 1938 ... King David Hospital and clinic opens on the City of David properties along Crystal Avenue. It is the only "truly Kosher hospital" in America, which is also open to the general public. It boasts the leading surgical theatre, obstetrics unit and X-ray lab in America, along with its 30-bed capacity. It is a unique collaboration of Jewish funding, Jewish medical professionals from Cook County Hospital, Chicago, and Mary's City of David, property, builders and clerical staff. The opening draws most of the Who's Who in the twin cities area.
In January of 1913 the House of David first advertised concentrate of mineral salt water, Medithereal Mineral Salts, drawn from waters 1600 ft. well. The dried compound was advertised as good for skin diseases, catarrh, and laxative.
Also in January of 1913 the House of David began advertising the manufacturing of their former invention, and "newly improved" automatic pinsetter for bowling alleys. Later the House of David would sell the patent to the Brunswick Company, and in 1978, donate several of the original bowling alley pinsetters to the newly created American Bowling Museum in St. Louis. The House of David is recognized as an early contributor to the technical advance and promotion that led to what the sporting recreation is become today.