Browse through this amazing story in several historical images here!  Here you can learn about the GREAT House of David history, about their Amusement Park, Baseball teams, Artwork, Mansions, Inventions, Architecture, Enterprises (including a Diamond Mine, Gold Mine, Coal Mine, Farm land, World's Largest Cold Storage Building, Restaurants, Hotels, Bands, Cruise Ships, Trolley Cars, Bus Lines, Jam & Jelly Factory, Jewelry Making, Ice Cream & the Invention of the Waffle Cone, Foundries, Factories, and more). Learn  some of the GREATEST history that Michigan holds, along with how the House of David was the only full-fledged white team that participated in the Negro Leagues (back when the blacks weren't allowed to play in the major leagues), as well as how our whiskered teams helped break the color barrier long before Jackie Robinson played in the majors!!!  You can visit us on Facebook (House of David Baseball Museum) or learn loads more by reading the book "House of David" written by Christoper Siriano, Founder/Director of the House of David  Museum (published in 2007 by Arcadia), or by personally visiting his museum back in Benton Harbor, Michigan (by appointment only).

In 2009 Siriano was Executive Film Producer of the first ever House of David Documentary (you can view a short clip of it on YouTube by typing in "House of David Documentary Siriano") which is available for purchase by contacting us at  He is also in the process of helping create 3  new & exciting films to be shown on the big screen in the winter of 2016, as well as helping with a television film that is to air this winter!!

Chris Siriano also founded the "House of David Historeum & Preservation Society"which is a Michigan Not-4-Profit, and once owned the House of David Amusement Park (along with 2 other investors). He has been written about in most major medias across the country, his museum was rated the #3 Baseball Museum on the North American Continent by ESPN, and shown on Fox TV (see YouTube and type in "House of David Baseball").  Siriano was a vital part of the restoration movement to save the wonderful Diamond House Mansion as well as several other major important structures that still exist at the House of David grounds (including the beginning of turning the old amusement park around after being closed for nearly 40 years.  He is now beginning to travel the country giving lectures on the House of David story, and is available for either small or large group talks.  

  • Back in the 1930's most of America was trying to draw lines in the sand, separating people by the color of their skin. But back at the House of David colony in Benton Harbor Michigan it was almost the polar opposite, where their famous whiskered, long-haired baseball teams were traveling the country, setting attendance records at nearly every town that they stopped in, and bringing along with them Negro teams that had never been allowed to play on those fields, eat in those restaurants or sometimes even walk into those towns prior to the arrival of our whiskered teams. According to Lloyd Dalager, the House of David catcher who played baseball for their team from 1927 through 1940, and who was the very last living member of their original baseball team, Lloyd shared his memories on several occasions of his exciting playing days! His father Hans Dalager was the driver for the House Of David baseball team bus and part of what his job was entailed was arriving very early to scheduled doubleheader games during those long summer runs, and alongside Lloyd himself and the manager of the House of David baseball team they would enter into the host stadium and find the managers office for a private meeting. Also joining them for these private meetings was a House of David member by the name of Frank Wyland, who had been a professional boxer and no was a stand-in for the team. The four guys would enter the opposing baseball team managers office and ask that the door be closed so they could speak in private. And having just arrived into a town that was jam packed full of thousands of anxiously anticipating fans that had driven miles to see the doubleheader game against our whiskered team, the House of David guys knew that they had an advantage to what they were about to ask. Little did the host baseball team know that just outside of town sat a second House of David bus holding a team of black players from the Kansas City Monarchs team. The manager of the House of David baseball team would sit down with his clipboard and explain to the opposing team manager that our team had arrived early to get the crowd excited for the doubleheader game, but that in the second game it would not be our whiskered team but in fact would be the Negro team that sat outside of town waiting to be invited in. It was explained that not only would the second game be played by this Negro team that had never been allowed into this baseball stadium before now, but it was also demanded that they be allowed to eat in the restaurants that evening with our guys as well as rent rooms in the hotel that we rented for our team!! And if this opposing team manager could not make all of this happen, that our whiskered team and the Negro team would pull out of town and head just down the road where we had a rain check to play a game against another town's team that very evening. Of course with this shocking news the opposing manager would typically scream and yell and throw things in his office, and maybe leave for a moment, but Lloyd said they always came back and reluctantly agreed to all that was on the table!!! And more often than not the opposing team manager would make it clear to our whiskered team that they probably would never be invited back after this stunt they were trying to pull!! But guess what….Not only did our House of David team completely blow the packed stadiums away at every town they stopped in, but also these black baseball players, which were new to most all of the stadiums that they played in with our team, were so talented and so hilarious on the field that the fans absolutely loved them!! And at the end of the doubleheader games, every single time they played together the opposing teams would graciously invite both of the teams back the next season!!! Lloyd Dalager shared that this started to take place in the late 1920s and ran all the way until the end of his playing days in the 1939–40 season. So long before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, the House of David whiskered team was doing their part to teach America that the Negro teams were just as qualified, if not better than, the white teams they were accustomed to playing!! If you visit the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City Missouri today, you will learn that they give credit to this "funny looking long-haired whiskered white team from Benton Harbor Michigan called the House of David"...!!!!

  • Considered one of the greatest Presidents of my lifetime, Ronald Reagan was also quite an actor prior to living in the White House! One of his "Top 5 Movies of All Times" was called "The Winning Team" in which he played a famous baseball player by the name of Grover Cleveland Alexander. And guess what......the movie is based on when G.C. Alexander was playing baseball for our whiskered House of David Baseball Team!!! Ronald Reagan wears a House of David uniform in the movie (of which I have owned for many years) and plays what he called "my favorite part and favorite character in all of my acting career"!!! Its a crazy cool twist to what he typically played, and it was alongside Doris Day as his lover!! Here is the basis of the movie......"In 1908 Nebraska, young Grover Cleveland "Alex" Alexander ( played by Ronald Reagan) saves up enough money to buy a farm for himself and his fiancée, Aimee (Doris Day), but also longs to realize his dream of playing baseball professionally. He grew up on a farm throwing his pitches against the side of his grandfathers barn. His pitching skills win him a position on an Illinois team, but an injury almost ruins his chance. Once he recovers, he and Aimee wed, and he returns to baseball and begins an increasingly successful career, ending up playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, and in 1926 wins the World Series with a strikeout, just after Babe Ruth gets caught trying to steal for home!! He is immediately called "The GREATEST pitcher of all time" and the title stayed with him for 3/4 of a century. He could have become even greater...until he's diagnosed with epilepsy, which he struggles to hide from the public and his wife Aimee. Grover Cleveland Alexander pitched for the House of David from 1931-35 and was spectacular!! His worst enemy was his alcohol, and because of that, he left the major leagues and came to the whiskered team for the next 4 years. After the HD team he went to work in a circus as a side show act, and eventually died of alcoholism. Its a very sad ending to an amazing life story.....and Ronald Reagan loved the story enough to play the leading role in the "Winning Team" back in 1952.

  • HEARTS POUNDING AND WHISTLES BLOWING....Those House of David Trains:

    Once the miniature railroad was opened at the House of David amusement park in 1908, news of those spectacular little steam engine trains traveled around the world, and folks made their way to Benton Harbor, Michigan (often for the very first time) to see and experience something they had never seen before! And it was to the delight of the dozens of young railway engineers that the trains were constantly packed with tourists, from the minute the gates opened in the early morning until that last trip back to the north depot at 11pm each night. Often the young local kids were allowed to ride the trains for free, as long as there was room! When the park first opened and trains began to run, the ticket to ride was 2 cents. Eventually it was raised to 4 cents and then after WWll it became a nickel to ride. Sometime in the early 1940s the House of David railroad crew began to desire a faster and stronger locomotive than what the existing eight were able to offer that they had built from 1904 through 1908. At this time a young man at the colony by the name of Tom Nelson began to make drawings of a new concept and much larger and more powerful train, that was put into production after World War II and introduced to the amusement park in 1948. Three of this new series of train were produced and called the 901, 902, and 903 on the side of each new locomotive (there were actually 4 that were built but only 3 were ever assembled). This newly invented steam engine train would result in the eventual replacement of the previous eight, which beginning in 1950 were sold to the public one train at a time. It was during this time period that Walt Disney himself had come to visit the park here in Benton Harbor and stayed for a short period of time studying the layout of this railway system which was considered the largest in the world. Around 1950 the House of David sold Walt Disney one of the small original steam engine trains, which he took back to Anaheim California with him and which was used in the very beginning of Disneyland. (If you research Disneyland you can read about this). What we also know from history, is that while Walt Disney was here at the House of David Park, he befriended Frank Rosetta at the art department, and purchased several of the large pearlized statues that Frank Rosetta had used for the prize-winning Blossom Parade floats of previous years. Those large life-size statues were later used in several different Disney created movies, of which I have copies of. The House of David administrator shared with me that very early on during the time of selling off those original early trains, they were approached by Johnny Cash to buy one for his home in the south. Eventually all eight of those original miniature trains were sold off to people scattered throughout the United States, and the colony continued to use the three new big powerful trains until the park closed in 1973. At that time the three remaining trains were stored inside the big roundhouse at the south end of the park, which is where they sat for the next 35 years. Back in the time period that Michael Jackson was building his spectacular amusement park that he called "Neverland" out west, he wrote a letter to the House of David asking them to sell all three of their trains to him for a price of $150,000 which was eventually turned down by the colony. Later they shared with me that they had wished that Tom Dewhirst would have accepted that offer. In roughly 2001 a local industrialist by the name of Merlin Hanson purchased one of the 900 series trains, and his crew of roughly a dozen engineers began the tedious and time consuming process of restoring that train, which took them nearly 5 years to complete. (I shared many of my photos with them to keep them historically accurate, and the restoration project was just around the corner from my museum, which made it easy for each of us to keep in close contact). The second train in the 900 series was then sold to a steam engine preservation group in Finley Ohio, where it to went through an entire restoration process and is now in spectacular working condition, and is available to ride on most weekends, just off of I-75 at the Findley exit. Finally in roughly 2007 it was Merlin Hanson again that purchased the final 900 series train to add to his collection and to again go through a full restoration process. It was also in 2007 that the House of David approached me to try to convince Merlin Hanson himself to consider the purchase of the entire House of David amusement park. I met with the colony on several different occasions to come up with a fair price to offer Mr. Hanson, and in turn I then set up meetings with both Mr. Hanson and his brother Russ Hanson to discuss this purchase. Initially Mr. Hanson agreed that he would like to purchase the amusement park and agreed to a price, so a final meeting was set for all parties to meet and sign documents. Both parties had their attorneys present as well as myself and some of my museum help at Merlin Hanson's executive meeting room at the Hanson International Office in St. Joe. To the shock of all of us in the room on that day, Mr. Hanson stepped up and stood in front of all of us and said that he has decided that he did not want to "own the dirt" for the railroad to run on but simply wanted to own the trains. After about a week of trying to sort out what just happened, I met again with the colony members to try to formulate a "Plan B". They asked me to try to find someone to purchase the park because they no longer had a desire to try to maintain that much property when there were only a few of them left alive. And of course myself being a total House of David amusement park enthusiast, I personally had always dreamed of owning the park or at least helping in bringing it back!! So with that knowledge in mind and the fact that I knew the agreed-upon price from this prior transaction, I set out to find other investors that could help me purchase the amusement park which, which had been closed for nearly 40 years. First I located a gentleman who is an extremely successful Radiologist from Tennessee, who had shared his love of the steam engine train story here at the House of David. He flew up to Benton Harbor and stayed with me for a few days studying the railway and meeting with the colony members. He and I agreed to somehow try to figure out a way to purchase the amusement park, and he asked me if I knew of any other railroad enthusiast that might like to take a part in this acquisition, since it was a daunting proposal that we were about to take on!! At that time I had been in contact with a very successful entrepreneur from Chicago, who had what was considered the largest miniature train collection in the world. We contacted that gentleman with our proposal to be a partner in this acquisition, and the doctor and I drove over to see his collection and meet with him inside his gigantic warehouse building right next to White Sox Stadium. This guy also owned the world's largest collection of antique movie production equipment as well as a massive collection of antique jukeboxes etc. He was actually living inside the upper floors of this massive complex, and his residence looked like something out of a movie set about a king!! After that meeting he drove over and spent two days studying and discussing this idea. In the end we all three agreed to move forward with the purchase of the park. Since I am a real estate broker, I drew up the purchase agreement and all parties signed on the dotted line, and we were the proud new owners of the House of David amusement park!! A giant restoration effort began immediately afterwards, with roughly 3 dozen workers beginning (led by Lee Mireles and his crew, including Don Schultz,) right behind the Diamond House Mansion, then moving our way to the top of the valley and working our way down into the area where the old stage and amphitheater work and then back up the hill to the south train depot. We had over 20 semi-loads of rubbish, trash, and overgrowth hauled off to the landfill during the months of July and August of that year. In early August we brought in a big crew of Amish carpenters to help the restoration project on the south train depot. After having over 15 years worth of railroad enthusiasts on my walking tours, I had been told by many of them that the south train depot was the absolute rarest depot in the entire world. Once the Amish crew looked at the building, they told us that only one more winter of a huge snow load and the entire building would be laying on the ground. So that became our main focus for the rest of the summer, and with amazing craftsmanship those Amish were able to not only straighten out the building but raise the roof back up to its original height and they said once they were done it should last another 200 years!!! They showed us the great craftsmanship of the original House of David laborers, but they also showed us that over the hundred years of its life how certain points needed to be built better to withstand two more centuries of mother nature and Michigan winters. My brother Samuel Anthony Siriano took on restoring the entire old House of David Campground almost single handedly, and had it completely turned around in one summer!! So now fast-forward and it is seven years later, the little miniature trains are running again, the train depot is fully restored, the midget autos are running on their old raceway, the fountain hillside is restored, the little souvenir building is restored, the original log cabins have been restored, the roundhouse is once again in great shape, the powerhouse building with the giant turbine engines has been fully restored and operational again for the first time since 1944, and much of the old amusement park is slowly coming back to life!!! Here is a small collection of photos pertaining to those three 1948 built "900 series" trains, as well as that south depot which I am proud to say has been restored and will be enjoyed for many more generations to come!!!

  • A little diversion........Did you know that Richard Pryor made a movie called "Bingo Long and His Traveling All-Stars" back in 1976 which was filmed by Motown Productions that featured a House of David Baseball Team playing in his Negro League story?!!! YEP.....its true, and its as funny as heck!!! I have a copy of the movie and one of the jerseys worn by one of the whiskered players from the HD team!!! And to top it off, this morning I received a message from a gentleman who used to play for a Negro League team called the "Indianapolis Clowns" which was a super famous team back in the day, and he asked me about that very movie!!! Here is a copy of his message to I almost crashed my car when I read it as I was leaving my driveway this morning......Joseph Heward Senior Study Director - General Toxicology at MPI Research wrote..... "Hi Chris! Thanks for accepting my invitation; much appreciated. LinkedIN went into its "people you may know" thing and I came across you and had to ask. My grandfather Ole or Ola Heward used to umpire House of David games. Also, I saw in your video a glimpse of the movie or book called "Bingo Long and the Traveling All Stars." Well, my brother, William Heward, and I played a few seasons (just 2 for me) on the Indianapolis Clowns barnstorming team in the 70s and my brother even wrote a book on them. Come to find out, 2 or 3 of the "Clowns" we played with got bit parts in that movie. I will definitely have to visit the museum; looks like you've done a swell job! P.S. How do you know Jim Curry? I worked with him several years at The Upjohn Company and we still golf and fish with each other. Take care, Joe"..... Now HOW COOL IS THAT.....!!!! Here is what the plot of that movie was all about: "Tired of being treated like a slave by team owner Sallison Potter (Ted Ross), charismatic star pitcher Bingo Long (Billy Dee Williams) steals a bunch of Negro League players away from their teams, including catcher/slugger Leon Carter (James Earl Jones) and Charlie Snow (Richard Pryor), a player forever scheming to break into the segregated Major League Baseball of the 1930s by masquerading as first a Cuban ("Carlos Nevada"), then a Native American ("Chief Takahoma"). They take to the road, barnstorming through small Midwestern towns, playing the local teams to make ends meet (one of which was the House of David). One of the opposing players, 'Esquire' Joe Calloway (Stan Shaw), is so good that they recruit him. Bingo's team becomes so outlandishly entertaining and successful, it begins to cut into the attendance of the established Negro League teams. Finally, Bingo's nemesis Potter is forced to propose a winner-take-all game: if Bingo's team can beat a bunch of all-stars, it can join the league, but if it loses, the players will return to their old teams. Potter has two of his goons kidnap Leon prior to the game as insurance, but he escapes and is key to his side's victory. Ironically, there is a major league scout in the audience. After the game, he offers Esquire Joe the chance to break the color barrier; with Bingo's blessing, he accepts. Leon glumly foresees the decline of the Negro League as more players follow Esquire Joe's lead, but Bingo, ever the optimist, cheers him up by describing the wild promotional stunts he intends to stage to bring in the paying customers." And so there goes another fascinating chapter of our local hometown making history...!!

More GREAT House of David history, from Baseball to Music, to Inventions!! 

  •  "Imposter Teams" were everywhere!

    This is an example of what happened around 1928 when the House of David became such a gigantic draw in baseball that there began to be a group of "imposter teams" that traveled the country, guys with long hair and beards, that called themselves "House of David" when in fact they were fake teams!!    In 1932 the NY courts created an injunction against these teams, finally ending all of the confusion as to who was showing up to play baseball in towns across America!!  

  • Rare Baseball Ticket 1928

    Its always RARE to find an old House of David Baseball ticket, and this one comes from a game at Gleason Field while they were playing a tough team from the "National FOP". 

    HOUSE OF DAVID HISTORY TEACHERS & LIFE LESSONS...Part 2. Much of what I was taught over the past 30 years was about the whiskered baseball teams, and I was lucky enough to hold the very first House of David Baseball Team Reunion EVER in history back in 1997 when I found and gathered together 14 of the players from those famous times!! WOW....what an exciting day that was for all of us!! Most of the guys hadn't seen each other in at least 60 years!!! Once we had all spent that day together at my museum out in Riverside, these guys were so excited about what they had seen and felt that day, that for the next few years we were all in constant communication, sharing stories, scrapbooks, and photos from their playing days! In 1999 I held the 2nd reunion and within 10 years of that last reunion they had all passed on. I'm so darn thankful for that tiny window of time that I was able to bring them all back together again for!! There were names like Eddie Deal, Bob Farmer, John and George Pavlick, Ike Bohn, Dick Adams, Shem Burnt, Lloyd Dalager, Harvey Pallas, Earl Boyersmith, Zeke Baushke, Tony Zitta, Sam Mandarino, and George Keller. I still have a signed baseball that all of the guys signed that day, proudly on display in my museum!! I also met and became friends with a guy by the name of Ed Karstens, who was a famous basketball player for the House of David team back in the late 1920's thru 30's. After his playing days with the whiskered team, he became the ONLY white player to ever play for the Harlem Globetrotters and is in the National Basketball Hall of Fame! He shared many memories of his playing days with me, and donated a few items including a casino chip made in his name when Las Vegas celebrated his life!! I was good friends with Carl Payne, the great musician and harp maker from the City of David, (Carl made two custom built harps for my daughter Ali Siriano back when she was younger). Carl had spent his adult life there restoring all of the buildings at the City of David, only to be asked to leave by Ron Taylor when Carl had fallen in love with his musical partner and future wife. And there were a few years that Ramon Nelson (colony member who wrote the book "Island Life, Island Toil" of his life in the colony's High Island), when Mr. Nelson used to come into my museum for hours at a time sharing his stories and memories of the House of David and his childhood life on that deserted island. I also learned mountains of details from Don Schultz Sr. who is considered the "Stonemaker" and the most informed man alive about the House of David artwork. There were dozens and dozens more "history teachers" that I was lucky enough to meet and learn from along the way. I traveled the country with my daughter as she was growing up and we went everywhere and anywhere possible to find pieces of the House of David's story!! I advertised worldwide for their artifacts and found things in Australia, Great Britian, France, Italy, Canada and Mexico!!! One of the most exciting "teachers" to meet and make friends with was the actual granddaughter of Benjamin and Mary Purnell. Her name was Hettie (named after Ben's daughter who had died at the age of 14 in a fireworks factory explosion prior to their arrival in Benton Harbor). So the story goes that in late 1902 Ben & Mary arrived with their son named Coy, and this was Coy's daughter that he had some years later!! She was 92 years old when I met her thru her daughters Jesslyn Kintup and Pat Knight that had become friends thru my museum. And to say it was nearly impossible to get their Mother Hettie to just go to the museum is a major understatement!! They told me that for decades their mother had not wanted to talk to ANYONE about the House of David....PERIOD!! We spoke on the phone a couple of occasions and then they arrived at my museum with her. Soon we hit it off like long lost best friends and what an amazing sweetheart she was!!! We had such great conversations about her memories of being raised by Benjamin and Mary in the Shiloh Mansion and the things she knew and spoke about NO ONE else had EVER spoke of!! She was simply a fascinating and kind-hearted lady, and thank God she allowed me to film her with the film crew one afternoon!!! She will make you sit back in your seats with awe when you hear her tell her story on film, hopefully something that will happen sometime in late 2016. Thanks to her daughters for sharing their amazing Mom with me that year!! Hettie passed away that following year, but she will live on in my heart forever!

  • House of David Basketball Program

    The House of David fielded a world famous basketball team from the early 1920's thru the mid 1950's....and many seasons they partnered up with the Harlem Globetrotters and traveled the world, here shown playing in Wembley, London.  They even played in the Nazi Arena in front of Hitler

  • Several RARE Broadsides and tickets

    Some of the most unusual of scoresheets, broadsides, and baseball tickets from the whiskered teams!!  

    The REAL story of the founder of the House of David is quite indepth, and takes years to really learn all that there is to take in.  Here is a great start......

    THE BROOM MAKER THAT MOVED TO BENTON HARBOR AND BECAME A KING...!! This is a story that started back around the times of the Civil War in 1861 when a baby boy was born in Paducah, Kentucky by the name of Benjamin Purnell. It was very sad times in America, which was in a severe depression and massive amounts of families with absolutely nothing, which included the Purnell family. Benjamin was born into poverty and the fact is that all the way until he was 14 years old the only gift that his parents could afford to give him was a Bible on one of his early birthdays (the King James Bible). Being the only book in his home during these times Benjamin began to read and memorize this Bible and soon could Word for Word speak full pages of the Bible to anyone who would listen. It's written that Ben (even as an early teen) would stand on street corners and recite verses in full, except by this time he had figured out a way to make these verses say what HE felt was intended, and that was for man to live FOREVER on earth, and never die. By the time he was 16 years old Benjamin had met his wife Mary who was a very shy and timid girl and who would become a follower and strong believer of Benjamin from then until his death in 1927. It was in those early days that Benjamin decided to try to make a living by being a broom maker in his traveling horse and carriage, and when he would visit towns throughout the Midwest he would also try to do a little preaching along the way. In roughly 1898 Benjamin and Mary as well as their daughter Hettie landed in Fostoria Ohio where they set roots down to create a home and a church for Ben and his teaching. They called it" The God House" and quickly Benjamin's teachings became very popular in the town of Fostoria and their congregation crew to quite a large number. Their son Cory was born and at the age of 14 years old their daughter Hettie went to work at a fireworks factory in the town, to help pay for food, etc. On one very sad night in Fostoria there was a fire at that factory and the entire factory blew up in a massive explosion which killed Hettie Purnell ( I have the newspaper accounts from these times in Fostoria and they are amazing to read). With the fact that Benjamin was teaching his followers that they would live forever on earth and have what he called "everlasting life of the body" and the fact that now his daughter was dead, Benjamin completely denied the fact that she could actually have been killed in this explosion. But because of the fact that most of his congregation had witnessed the explosion through the church windows as Benjamin was giving his sermon, made the congregation and the Fostorian towns people very upset with him and his denial. Soon afterwards Benjamin and Mary and their "God House" were stoned by the people of the town and were driven out of Fostoria, along with Silas and Cora Mooney who had pledged all of their wealth from their corn farm to Benjamin's church. It was at that point that Benjamin realized the fact that Albert and Louis Baushke were already huge believers in a faith very similar to what Benjamin's teachings were and also that Benjamin had began preaching that he was the 7th and final messenger from God, a Mesiah and the brother to Jesus. And it just so happened that this faith of which the Baushke brothers were studying was identical to the beliefs that Benjamin was teaching in Fostoria Ohio. So quickly Benjamin, Mary, Cora Mooney and Silas Mooney, and little Coy Purnell traveled to Benton Harbor Michigan where they met with the Baushke brothers to discuss a future of his church in this new town. The Baushkes believed so strongly in Benjamin's message that they quickly traveled to Grand Rapids Michigan to introduced Benjamin to their entire congregation of believers (which was a huge amount of very wealthy people at the time in approximately 1902). It was at that moment that a small part of Michigan was now believing that the seventh messenger from God was here in Benton Harbor!! Because Benjamin's new faith (he called it now the "House of David"), required that any believer had to give up every possession that they had for a promise of eternal life, Benjamin instantly became an extremely wealthy man ( and because of the fact that this huge group in Grand Rapids immediately joined the House Of David as well as the Baushke brothers who gave Ben over $400,000 in cash, equating to tens of millions in today's money). The Baushke brothers basically funded the entire establishment of the House of David as we all know it on Britain Avenue in Benton Harbor Michigan!! And because of the fact that this Grand Rapids congregation was so tightly tied to a very similar group in Great Britain as well as Melbourne Australia the word traveled around the globe that the Messiah was now here in Benton Harbor, sent from God to teach those who would listen about how to live forever on earth!! So as the money of the Baushke enterprise began to build huge mansions along Britain Avenue, people from around the world flocked in to be a part of this newly found faith! The House of David colony quickly grew to over 1200 members right here in our little town and amongst that group were extremely intelligent and extremely wealthy people from all around the world that came and gave every dime they had for a promise of "Everlasting Life". The process of recruiting new members began as Benjamin found out who the super loyal and super informed individuals were that had landed and his soil. He went out and bought big fleets of elaborate carriages and teams of horses and sent out what he called his "messengers" to all points of the globe, recruiting anyone that would consider giving up their life for this faith. By the early 1900s Benjamin was considered to be one of the wealthiest men in the world with holdings of over $10 million along with over 100,000 acres of farmland, a diamond mine in Australia, hotels, restaurants, factories, foundries, a coal mine, gold mine, and much much more. He somehow knew a way of figuring out each individual's special talent and would use those talents to make huge money for his colony. With a brand-new print shop of his own he began printing his teachings in book form called the "Star of Bethlehem", the "Shiloh Messenger", and many additional books that he would soon send all around the world. Because of how unusual his faith was and because they were so hugely successful and growing so fast, medias from around the world began to write stories about the House of David. Many times those stories became very sensationalized due to the fact that is what sells and printed media's. It was around 1912 that Benjamin began to be accused of various different things that were not acceptable to society, and dozens of times had to defend himself in courts around the country for many different wrongdoings. Most every one of these times he was able to successfully defend himself or pay a settlement and get out of any charges. But the charges continued to mount and in 1922, in the middle of building what he was considering the grandest hotel of all of Michigan, Benjamin went into hiding and hid from the public and the authorities for the next 4 1/2 years. In late 1926 the Michigan State police along with federal agents raided Benjamin's private residence at his Diamond House mansion and knocked down the front entrance door and found Benjamin hiding in one of his 8 bedrooms (If you've been inside the home you'd know that it could be VERY easy to elude anyone looking for you!! It has 8 separate doorways exiting the home, along with rooms inside rooms, hidden walls leading to huge walk-in vaults, and entrances to 2 tunnels....and I'll stop right there!! I headed up a huge restoration crew at the Diamond House Mansion roughly 15 yrs ago and it blew us ALL away what it was like!! And a huge bank vault door leading to Ben's body, all rigged with wires, so obviously we did NOT go visit him!!!!) Back to the story....By this time he had become a very frail and sick man because he had tuberculosis which age to him drastically. So in the winter of 1926 a huge trial ensued, which was the most sensationalized trial of the 20th century, with over 16,000 pages of court documents (of which I read every single page after I was able to purchase the compiled court documents when they were selling off old archives). There were literally hundreds of witnesses on both sides. Benjamin was up on over a dozen rape charges (from his teenage female colony members, as well as being charged with operating a religion under false pretenses for personal gain). At the end of the five month-long trial Benjamin was acquitted of all of the rape charges but found guilty of the latter charge. But be before he could be sentenced he died. There was massive pandemonium at the house of David colony because here was their Messiah, that was teaching them that if they live this vegetarian celibate Christian life that he taught them to live, that they would have everlasting life of the body and now he suddenly is dead?!!! His followers believed that he was the son of God and a brother to Jesus Christ and because of this they believed that Benjamin would rise again from the dead within three days. The Berrien County Coroner waited seven days and finally asked the House Of David to either bury Benjamin or dispose of his remains. It was at this time that they decided to have his body embalmed and put in a hermetically sealed glass coffin, and situated in his parlor in the upper floor of his Diamond House mansion, which is where they could pray to him and observe his body for the next century. To this day Benjamin's body has been amazingly preserved, and if you saw what I've seen, you may just be as fascinated with this whole twisted consuming story as so many of us have!!! In 1988 a group of teenage kids broke into the Diamond House mansion by cutting a hole through the roof and dropping themselves down into the catwalk right before Benjamin's parlor, stealing a 22 carat diamond ring from Ben's finger (valued at over $1M by the police and was custom made by his own jewelers from his own diamond mine in Australia), as well as truckloads of rare items like statues, vases, urns, oil paintings, etc on that dreary day in Benton Harbor. Many years ago I interviewed two of those people extensively (it took 2 years to catch them and they were convicted and time served), and their stories totally blew me away and what they saw that day is something that I will have to share on another dreary Michigan right now I've got chills just sitting here remembering what they said..

  • 1935 West Coast Champs!!!  

    One of the GREATEST barnstorming teams ever assembled, this 1935 House of David Baseball Team featured some of the world's greatest athletes, including Grover Cleveland Alexander as Pitcher/Manager and Ray Doan as Promoter.  They won the West Coast Tournament Championship that year, beating out several major league calibur teams and Negro League teams!!  

  • Basketball, Baseball & Bowling with Whiskers!!

    Shown here is a group of House of David Baseball, Basketball and even Bowling at the whiskered compound!!  

  • House of David Artifacts that Siriano owns!! 

    Some of the over 40,0000 items that Chris Siriano owns at his House of David Baseball Museum 

    The great wealth and success of the House of David wasn't as simple as planting a seed and watching a tree grow tall, but rather it took a gigantic team of Einsteins working endless hours, inventing tools to build the jobs, making many things that had never been made in history, and often patenting these inventions. The craftsmen of the colony came from every corner of the world, as their talents would soon set new standards in many industries across America. They invented and patented the very first bowling pin setting machine and later sold the rights of that to Brunswick. That very first machine is now in the "Bowling Hall of Fame" in St. Louis. They invented the cross-propeller system for cruise ships to keep a huge wake from turning them on their sides, after they had lost 2 of their own ships to sea. They invented the process of putting grape juice in a can when they were hired by the Welch Grape Juice Co. To do so when they were previously only able to sell it in bottles. They worked with NASA in the 1960's through the use of their Cold Storage Facility to find a way to take a full meal and turn it into a powder packed form for the astronauts. They invented the Waffle Cone and introduced it to America in 1904 at the St. Louis World's Fair. They invented the first pallet to be able to move the thousands of barrels of grape juice around in the worlds largest cold storage building right in Benton Harbor. And then they were hired by Clark Equipment to invent the very way that those same barrels could be moved around with a barrel-lift for fork trucks! They invented the very first "Night Lighting System" for baseball in 1931 and lit baseball fields across America for the very first time during the 1931-32 seasons!! They invented the "Pepper Game" in baseball. They built their little steam engine trains to such precision that today the engineers that just restored several of those trains contacted me in amazement that the tooling was actually to the thousandth of an inch, something that is absolutely unheard of prior to just several years ago!! They created a man made stone out of crushing 17 different types of minerals, including the hematite, which once dried would look like diamonds were scattered throughout the mixture and would harden like cold-rolled steel. And they invented and patented soooooo many other things that you and I use to this day!! This is a tribute to the great minds, amazing devotion, hard work and the omnipotent contribution to society that this group of very humble individuals gave.....

  • Siriano's little House of David Midget Auto!!

    The House of David had 14 Midget Auto Race cars on their Raceway, and Siriano owned 2 of these, which are now at the House of David Amusement Park, fully restored and operating once again!! 

    "The Spinning Wheels"......I've been told by literally thousands and thousands of people that they learned to drive for the very first time way back when on a House of David Midget Auto!!! And I have to admit that those little cars sure were a fascinating thing for a young boy back in those times!!! The very first House of David autos were invented back in 1931 and were powered by gas fired engines with a chain driven power system and even had brakes!!! The brake systems were added after several of the older House of David gentlemen were ran over or ran into while trying to stop the young kids that were supposed to end their five minute sessions and refused to do so!!! The steering wheels were so easy to turn because they too were powered by a small bicycle chain and a sprocket that attached to the front end of the car. The headlights on the midget autos were Model "A" cowl lights and the little shock absorbers where springs from the engines of old Chryslers! The House of David men were so smart in building the actual frames of those little cars out of bed frames because the steel on a bed-frame will bend slightly when pressure is put on it (aka smashing into objects or other cars)!!! The chasis had grease joints to keep it lubricated, and the wheels were packed with ball bearings. Its just amazing what thought went into these little machines!! These little cars withstood the test of time (lasted for over 40 years of driving 7 days a week) and I was told by several of the members that out of everything in the entire amusement park these were used by FAR the most and from early in the morning until long after closing time the kids were on the raceway! I have met several individuals, some of which are members of this site, that worked down at the amusement park in its heyday (like Kenny Pulley)!! PLEASE add your own memories below if you recall that time in your own life!!!+4

  • 1908 House of David Steam Engine Train!!  

    Chris Siriano owned one of the little House of David Steam Engine Trains and many of the original passenger cars, which are now all up at the House of David Amusement Park and operating once again, after being closed for over 40 years!!


    It's now 107 years later and the fascination of those little House of David steam engine trains lives on just as strong as ever!! The fact is that the story of the trains being a part of our lives here in Southwest Michigan was never a planned thing according to history. It all started in the year of 1904, when Benjamin Purnell and his wife Mary, along with several of the House of David messengers and pillars attended the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair, with the intention of not only recruiting members to their newly found faith in Benton Harbor Michigan, but also to introduce to the world their newly invented waffle cone which was a creation that was soon to excite all of America!! The success of both of these objectives was absolutely gigantic, but what they did not know on their way to St. Louis was the fact that the Cagney Brothers steam engine company had contracted with the city of St. Louis to help facilitate bringing in the gigantic crowds from remote areas, and then transporting those tourists throughout the setting of the World's Fair. Benjamin Purnell was so astonished and impressed by the ease of this new form of transportation, that while they were St. Louis he negotiated the purchase of two of those little steam engine trains (since he was creating his own little Disneyland type park, he knew he could probably use this same mode of moving tourists). After the end of the World's Fair the House of David sent two of their men back to pick up the trains and bring them here to Benton Harbor. At that time the colony craftsman began to entirely dismantle one of the trains into a gigantic amount of tiny little parts and pieces. After extensively studying all that went into building those trains the colony began perfecting what they discovered and creating their own versions, but history shows that the House if David trains were much better built and more durable than the original Cagneys ever were. So from 1905-1908 the colony constructed 8 little 15" steam engine trains to be used at their newly built railway. And with the experience of the Baushke brothers, who had been manufacturing carriages for many years, the colony was able to create an amazing quality passenger car for those little trains (if you look closely at photos of the little passenger cars you'll see that they are nearly identical to a horse carriage!!). In the spring of 1908 the amusement park was opened and the introduction of the worlds largest miniature Railway was to be a media sensation that would never end! According to colony records roughly 500,000 tourists frequented the amusement park for the next 65 years!! The memories that Lloyd Dalager shared with me in regards to his times as the steam locomotive engineer of the little railway were so fascinating, and he recalled many times all eight of the little trains would be running around the mile long track, all at the same time!! He told me that a certain number of pulls on the little steam whistle would signal certain actions that others in the park were supposed to respond to. Since Lloyd arrived at the House of David back in 1918, he did not recall any major problems with the railway, except for one time when one of their favorite wealthy farmers tried to drive his horse and buggy over the tracks near the south depot and Lloyd was driving the train around that last curve as it enters into the depot. Lloyd said he sounded the train whistle over and over again but the farmer must not have hear him because of the music in the park. He said at the very last minute he jumped off of the train just before it hit the very tail end of the carriage. To his delight he looked up and saw that neither the farmer nor any of his passengers were injured in the crash and only the locomotive was slightly damaged! Here are a small handful of super early images of those famous House of David trains, including the very first train that came out of their little production shop, as well as an image of one of the curves being layed at their railway. One of the proudest days of my life was back in 2003 when I actually was able to locate and purchase the very first built House of David train. Today that very train has been fully restored and is now once again operating at the park!!