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In 1844, Joseph Smith, controversial founder of the Christian sect informally known as the Mormon Church, was killed by an angry mob in Carthage, Illinois. Two years later his successor, Brigham Young, led many of Smith's 30,000 faithful to a 'New Israel' in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. Around the same time, James Jesse Strang, a rival of Young, enticed a splinter group to settle in Wisconsin and then led them to Beaver Island, a 56 square mile oasis in the northern reaches of Lake Michigan. The island's Irish fishermen and trappers were overwhelmed, and sometimes expelled, as the new arrivals set about creating a utopian colony with James Strang as their king. The experiment came to an abrupt end in June of 1856 when Strang, like Joseph Smith before him, was assassinated. Join us to learn about this little-known slice of Michigan’s history.
John A. Stewart is a retired software developer with degrees in biology from the University of Michigan. He enjoys self-guided travel to out-of-the-way places.