Sins of the Seventh Angel


A reading from America’s historic newspapers in the golden age of yellow journalism.

King Ben and the Curse of the House of David

In this episode, I want to explore portions of a five-part investigative expose that the Detroit Free Press on the cult House of David, which operated a commune near Benton Harbor Michigan in the 1920s. The leader of the cult was Benjamin Franklin Purnell, in these articles confronted with allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct among young members of his flock. Much of the expose, the parts that we’ll be examining, are based on a sworn deposition by one of these young ladies.

Musical direction by Dave Sams


1923 0304 Detroit_Free_Press_Sun__Mar_4__1923_ - Copy 1923 0311 Detroit_Free_Press_Sun__Mar_11__1923_ - Copy 1923 0318 Detroit_Free_Press_Sun__Mar_18__1923_ - Copy 1923 0401 Detroit_Free_Press_Sun__Apr_1__1923_ - Copy 1926 1117 Detroit_Free_Press_Wed__Nov_17__1926_ - Copy 1927 1221 Detroit_Free_Press_Wed__Dec_21__1927_ - Copy