Eden Springs by Laura Kasischke (2010)

As a St. Joe resident, the House of David has always interested me, especially because I have vivid childhood memories of riding the train, going to the ice cream parlor and lingering in the frame shop.  I think those were the only things still open in the early 1970’s from this religious colony in Benton Harbor that peaked in the early 1900’s.  This book is sort of like a scrapbook with photos, excerpts from newspaper reports, quotes from members of the cult/colony, and a fictional story based on some historical facts.  It’s basically the tale of “King Ben” (Benjamin Purnell, the colony’s leader), the colony he built based on “paradise on earth,” and the many young women he coerced to sleep with him.  Eventually he made all of them get married before the press investigated his life too closely. It’s sort of fascinating to read about the families from all over the world that came to the colony to be part of this “paradise” that promised eternal life where the body would live forever in its “days of youth” upon the second coming of Christ.  (fiction)

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