Religion: House Divided

Little flurries of snow fell last week in Benton Harbor, Mich. Under the leaden sky a melancholy old lady picked up all her belongings and traipsed a half-mile to a new home. She was "Queen" Mary Purnell, wife of the late "King" Benjamin Purnell, self-proclaimed Messiah, founder of the famed, bewhiskered religious cult called House of David.

"King" Benjamin died in December 1927. Soon the House of David became a house divided. "Queen" Mary vied for control with H. T. Dewhirst, onetime California jurist. For 28 years she had inhabited Shiloh, as the cult's...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!