In the 1850s, this print shop served as the home of the first newspaper in Northern Michigan, the Northern Islander, founded by a self-proclaimed Mormon king. The Mormon kingdom ruled the 13-mile-long island in the northern reaches of Lake Michigan from 1847 to 1856, when King James Jesse Strang was fatally attacked in an alleged conspiracy between the U.S. government and his followers. Now, the building—nestled on the quaint main street of the island—holds a museum telling tales of the surprisingly complex history of Beaver Island, from ancient peoples to a Mormon kingdom to small-town heroines.
The museum is run by the Beaver Island Historical Society, keepers of the records of the dynamic stories of this island, which is far vaster than the Mormon community’s brief stay. The museum tells tales of the Native American tribes who traveled from the East Coast–the Ojibwa (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawas), and Bodewadmi (Potawatomi)—celebrates the Indigenous families who still call the island home today. Stories of ancient peoples on the island—thought to date back thousands of years—are recorded, discussed, and protected by the Amik Circle Society and housed at the museum.
The museum also pays tribute to the Irish Catholics who settled on the island before and after Mormon rule, and whose families still call the land home today. Tales of a woman who refused to wear bloomers and a medicine man who held the community together through tough times cover the walls. You can find copies of original newspapers with headlines like “Murderous Assault,” the medicine bottles and bag of a legendary local medicine man, a taxidermied beaver, and many more artifacts from the rich history of the island.
Know Before You Go
Admission is free. The hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.