The following document comes from early 1923, when the House of David, a Christian Israelite commune in Benton Harbor, Michigan, was in serious legal jeopardy. State circuit judge Harry J. Dingman (1881-1949) began a grand jury investigation following a civil judgement against the House of David earlier that year to determine if sufficient cause existed to bring criminal charges against Benjamin or the colony for alleged “immoralities.” Dingman subpoenaed more than fifty witnesses to give testimony before the grand jury, including sixty-one year old Mary Purnell (1862-1953), Benjamin’s wife as well as the co-prophet and co-founder of the House of David, who was was called to the witness stand to give testimony before Judge Dingman on May 9 and 10, 1923. The House of David published the complete proceedings from the Hansels’ civil case but did not include testimonies from the related grand jury investigation. We offer Mary’s testimony from the grand jury hearings to ACSQ readers and researchers as a valuable primary source from the co-founder of the Israelite House of David.
American Communal Societies Quarterly
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