John Hamer, Mike Karpowicz, and Vickie Cleverly Speck gave a very interesting history of the Strangite movement. What’s a Strangite you say? Speck filled in many details: she said that James Strang was baptized into the LDS church just 4 months prior to the death of Joseph Smith. Strang claims to have a letter from Joseph Smith making him the new leader of the LDS movement, and claims to been visited by Smith at the moment of Smith’s death. An angel later anointed Strang with oil as the new prophet. Amazingly, Strang counted many of the Smith family (including Joseph’s brother William) as followers, and other prominent members, such as Martin Harris.
Strang translated the Brass Plates: the official name is the Book of the Law of the Lord. Strang initially denounced polygamy, but after translating these plates, he was commanded by an angel to practice polygamy. This book of scripture plays a prominent role in Strangite worship services, outlining the proper practice of polygamy, marriage, adultery, and inheritance. Strang was an abolitionist, and believed that servants should receive inheritances from masters, just as children.
Hamer detailed the history of the Strangites following Strang’s assassination in 1856 (by disgruntled followers). Apparently, there were about 4-5 prominent families, and most members have descended from this family. Strangites originally settled in Voree, Wisconsin, but later moved to Beaver Island, Michigan. Following Strang’s death, the group was forcibly removed from Beaver Island and their property was confiscated. They settled in other areas: Michigan, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. A schism in the group split the families, but the group unified in 1955. The largest branch in Voree has added some new converts and no family currently dominates in Voree, unlike other branches. Voree has the largest branch in the church, and their website is found here.
In another session, Max Muellar from Harvard talked about changing portraits of Emma Smith, and Darin Tuck discussed the story of the gulls eating crickets. Apparently he irritated a few in the audience when he said the gull story had obtained “mythical” status— the question and answer was more animated than the presentation.
Livinia Fielding Anderson discussed some very general similarities of Joseph Smith Sr’s patriarchal blessings. She outlined only blessings with known dates between Dec 9, 1834, and April 8, 1838. LaJean Purcell Carruth described translating some old Mormon records written in Pittman Shorthand. She noted that Brigham Young said that the law seemed tilted against the Mormons. Gary James Bergera discussed some of the ethical and moral aspects of spiritual wives. He noted that Joseph had 20 wives before Emma learned he had taken any polygamous wives.
So, that’s a quick summary from yesterday. Questions or comments?