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Beaver Island is the largest island in Lake Michigan and the third largest island in Michigan. There are two named communities on the island, both located in the north.

The unincorporated community of Beaver Island is in the northern portion of the island, while the unincorporated community and census-designated place known as St. James is on the northeastern coast of the island. Both of these communities are in St. James Township, which occupies only the northern portion of Beaver Island, while most of the island is in Peaine Township.

Although this section of the directory typically includes unincorporated communities, census-designated places, villages, and cities, the Beaver Island post office provides mail delivery throughout the island, and there are no named communities in the part of the island within Peaine Township, so this category will be used to cover the entire island.

Today, the island is known for its beaches, recreational harbors, forests, and secluded areas but, in the late 1840s and 50s, it was home to a Mormon religious colony, a theocratic monarchy ruled by a self-appointed king.

Upon the death of LDS founder Joseph Smith, most Mormons looked to Brigham Young as his successor, but some followed James Jesse Strang, who opposed Young's policies on polygamy. Strang moved his group of followers from Salt Lake City, Utah to Racine, Wisconsin in 1845. In 1847, he came to Beaver Island. At the time of their arrival, the island was inhabited only by a small number of Irish immigrants.

Known as the Strangites, this Mormon group did well on Beaver Island, and Strang quickly became a political power. They founded the village of St. James, which was named for Strang, and they constructed Kings Highway that continues to be one of the island's main roads leading to the interior of the island.

In 1850, Strang declared himself king, not of the island, but of the Church, which included most of the residents of the island.

Strang faced conflict with non-church members on the island, who accused him of forcibly seizing their property. Opposition came also from nearby Mackinac Island, and from President Millard Fillmore, who had Strang and other members of his group arrested in 1852. Acquitted on the grounds religious toleration, Strang returned to Beaver Island and turned his attention to politics. He was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1853, and again in 1855. He founded the first newspaper in Northern Michigan. In the November elections, he delivered the entire Mormon vote to the Democrat Party. As a reward, the Democratic legislature established Manitou County, which included several islands on Lake Michigan, with its seat at St. James, although the county was abolished in 1895.

In the end, Strang was brought down by a group of dissenting Mormons, from his own group, who assassinated him in June of 1856. Upon his death, a mob from Mackinac Island arrived, looting homes and businesses, raping women, seizing farm equipment and livestock, burning the Strangite church, and driving all of the Mormons from the island.

The Strangites were quickly replaced by Irish fishermen and new immigrants from Ireland. Fishing, farming, and logging were the chief industries on the island.

Currently, the island's economy is driven by recreational tourism, governmental services, and service industries. Much of the island is part of a state forest, and Central Michigan University operates a research facility on the island, hosting classes and workshops for students and researchers.

The island is served by two small airlines: Island Airways and Fresh Air Aviation, operating small propeller plans carrying from six to ten passengers. The Beaver Island Boat Company operates a scheduled ferry service from Charlevoix during most of the year, with two ferry boats in service.

There are two lighthouses on the island: Beaver Island Harbor Light, on the northern part of the island, which continues to be in operation, and Beaver Island Head Lighthouse, on the southern part of the island, which was deactivated in 1961.

The focus of resources listed in this category may include anything relating to the island, to the unincorporated communities of Beaver Island or St. James, or to any businesses, industries, transportation services, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, or events on the island. Topics related to the history of the island would also be appropriate for this category.


@Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite)

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