In the early 20th century, a unique religious commune emerged, blending spirituality, long beards, and an unexpected passion for baseball. The House of David cult, founded by Benjamin and Mary Purnell, left an indelible mark on American history with its unconventional lifestyle and the establishment of a renowned baseball team. Join me as we delve into the intriguing history of the House of David and its unexpected connection to America's favorite pastime.
The Origins of the House of David
The House of David had its roots in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where Benjamin Purnell claimed to receive divine revelations in the early 1900s. With a mix of biblical teachings and communal living ideals, Purnell and his followers established a religious commune that embraced a simplistic, agrarian lifestyle. Members of the commune grew beards and long hair, adhering to a distinctive appearance that became a hallmark of the House of David.
Communal Living and Business Ventures
The House of David operated on principles of communal living, where members shared resources and responsibilities. The community engaged in various business ventures, including agriculture, woodworking, and the establishment of a renowned amusement park. Their commitment to a self-sustaining lifestyle allowed the commune to flourish economically, despite its unconventional practices.
Enter Baseball: The House of David Baseball Team
One of the most unexpected facets of the House of David was its foray into the world of baseball. In the 1920s, the commune formed a baseball team composed of long-bearded players who donned uniforms reminiscent of biblical attire. The House of David baseball team quickly gained recognition for their unique appearance and skilled play. They barnstormed across the country, playing exhibition games against both amateur and professional teams.
Bridging Cult and Sport
The House of David baseball team served as a bridge between the closed-off commune and the wider world. Their tours brought attention to the religious group, and spectators flocked to witness the spectacle of bearded players displaying remarkable athleticism on the baseball diamond. The team's popularity helped fund the commune's activities and brought an unexpected form of notoriety to the House of David.
Challenges and Decline
As the years passed, the House of David faced internal and external challenges. Benjamin Purnell's death in 1927 led to leadership disputes within the commune. Additionally, legal issues and controversies surrounding the group's practices contributed to its decline. By the mid-20th century, the House of David had largely disbanded, leaving behind a legacy of eccentricity and a unique chapter in American religious and sporting history.
Legacy and Remembrance
While the House of David commune may be a relic of the past, its legacy endures through photographs, artifacts, and the memories of those who witnessed the bearded baseball players take the field. The House of David baseball team's contribution to the sport's history is a testament to the unexpected intersections of religion, communal living, and America's favorite pastime.