This Beaver Island tourist brochure (dating from circa 1971) features an Irish theme
Beaver Island, located in Lake Michigan, is one of Michigan’s prominent tourist attractions. Today, the island is renowned for its natural beauty and strong Irish roots. In the mid-nineteenth century, it was better known as a home to royalty, albeit self-proclaimed royalty.
James Jesse Strang, King of Beaver Island
James Jesse Strang led a Mormon splinter group that resided in Beaver Island from 1849 to 1856. Dubbing Beaver Island the “Kingdom of St. James,” Strang held a coronation in 1850. He anointed himself “King James, Vice-regent of God on Earth.” This made him, to this date, the only ruler ever anointed on American soil. In addition to his kingly duties, Strang created the first Michigan newspaper to cover important events north of Saginaw. He also, through the votes of his religious followers, served in the State Legislature from 1853 to 1856. One of his notable achievements as a legislator was negotiating the passage of a bill that officially mapped out the modern-day boundaries of Charlevoix and Emmet Counties in 1853. Despite these accomplishments, his activities as a religious prophet made him several enemies. By June 1853, for example, Strang and his followers had forced every non-believer off of Beaver Island. He then proceeded to give the abandoned lands to his followers. However, being Strang’s disciple held its own risks: he once had a man publicly beaten for disagreeing with him. In June 1856, he was shot while boarding the USS Michigan. He died three weeks later.
After Strang’s assassination, the non-Mormons returned to reclaim their lands, forcing Strang’s followers to depart. Only one building built by the Mormons still stands: the print shop. Today, it’s a museum dedicated to Beaver Island’s interesting history.