The following material was received from CCGS Member, Marcia Connors, 724 Sable Road, Spring City, TN 37381-4820, by past CCGS Newsletter Editor, Patrick McCleary. It is a wonderfully done piece and is now housed in the CCGS research room. Following is the note that she sent along with the material:
Â“Dear Sir, I have recently subscribed to your genealogical newsletter. In your winter Â‘97 issue, you requested that people submit an article or two for submission. I have just written one on my ancestor, Medad Thompson, an early pioneer to Charlevoix County. I hope you will be able to use it. I may be able to come up with another, if you like this one.Â” We certainly do like this one Marcia, and hope that you will continue to submit material!
Her article reads as follows:
WHO WERE THE STRANGITES?
In November of 1838 a petition was filed by many members of the Mormon Church against the state of Missouri for loss of property as the Saints were forced from their homes. My ancestor, Medad Thompson filed a claim for one thousand dollars. In 1839, the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith settled the city of Nauvoo in western Illinois. It was a swampland covered with underbrush and trees along the Mississippi
River. The Mormons drained the swamp over a period of years and built a great city in a short time.
Persecution against the Mormons persisted however and eventually, after the murder of Joseph Smith and his brother in 1844 the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles became the governing body of the Church and chose Brigham Young as their new leader who took them to Utah. Several others however, had thought themselves to be the new leader of the Mormons. James Strang was one of them.
James Strang was a convert from Walworth County, Wisconsin. He had personally met Joseph Smith and had been converted only a few months before Smith's death. He became dissatisfied with the new leadership of the Church and set out on his own. He wrote Joseph Smith requesting permission to establish a branch of the Church in Burlington, Wisconsin. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote back and Consented only a few days before his murder. Strang claimed the letter from Joseph Smith dated June 18, 1844 appointed him as the Prophet's successor and several hundred believed him. He also claimed he had been visited by an angel at the moment of Smith's death who proclaimed him to be the new Prophet of the Church. He additionally claimed he had discovered an ancient set of records which he called "The Book of The Law of The Lord". One of his followers was the only surviving brother of Joseph Smith: William Smith. These believers in James Strang were called Strangites. .
Strang established himself, along with his followers on Beaver Island, one of the Manitou group in upper Lake Michigan. He had previously explored Beaver Island, just 30 miles off the coast of upper Michigan and had decided to set up a utopia or place of refuge for the Church. He had asked William Smith to unite with him, promising to make him a patriarch if he would take the remains of his brothers, Joseph and Hyrum Smith to Beaver Island with him. However, this was not done. He nonetheless organized a county which he represented himself in the Michigan State Legislature. Later, James Strang had himself crowned as king of Beaver Island. Amongst those who followed James Strang were my ancestors, Medad and Phoebe (Hobart) Thompson and his children.
Medad was born in Herkimer Co., NY in 1800. He had married Phoebe Hobart in 1824 in Erie Co., PA. They had 13 children; Cynthia. Eliza Jane, Edmund Hobert, Angeline, unknown child, Calvin William, Hirum Almanza, Harriet, Louisa, Malvin, George and Sephrone born from 1825 to 1853 in Erie Co., PA, Missouri and Iowa. While living in Springfield Missouri, the family became acquainted with the Mormon Church. Medad's brother and Phoebe were baptized there as well as Phoebe grandfather and grandmother, Randall and Experience Tyler Wheeler. In 1840,1847 and 1849 Iowa censuses, Medad is in Van Buren County, Iowa and in 1850 Phoebe is listed with her children in Pottawattamie County, Iowa. Medad had gone to California to search for gold. He is listed in Eldorado County in the 1850 census along with George Thompson, Daniel Tyler and al least one of the Rudd Boys, other related families.
Many Mormons continued on from the Council Bluffs area of Iowa to Utah. Medad and Phoebe remained in Iowa a few years, probably trying to obtain enough money to make the move to Michigan after an unsuccessful attempt to find a fortune in gold in California. It is believed their last child Sephrone was born in March of 18 5 3 but did not live long enough to make the journey to Michigan. Medad and his family arrived at Beaver Island in early 1854 according to the Charlevoix Country homecoming historical booklet published in 1935. Two letters from family members were addressed to them there.
Medad and Phoebe's stay there, however, was cut short. Instead of a utopia, they found a tyrant. In 1853, in the settlement of Pine River a skirmish between several Mormons of Beaver Island and the fishermen of Pine River (30 miles away) took place in a battle called the Battle of Pine River. As a result of that battle, the fishermen abandoned their dwellings and when Medad and Phoebe moved off Beaver Island to Pine River, they moved into the vacant dwellings.
In 1856, there was an uprising on Beaver Island in which James Strang was killed. Civil authorities forced the Strangites off the island. Most were put on boats and made to leave the island. Followers of James Strang were scattered throughout the area. My ancestor, Calvin W. Thompson, (a grandson of Medad and Phoebe), Frank Rudd (believed to be a half-brother of Phoebe) and a John Callaway Kuykendall (who married Calvin's wife's sister Perthena Galland) were shipped all together on the same boat from Beaver Island and landed in Racine Wisconsin, just on the other side of Lake Michigan. They later immigrated to Crawford and Pottawattamie counties, Iowa with Abel Galland, the Rudds, Jordons and Kuykendalls and on to Nebraska by 1860.
Medad and Phoebe remained in Charlevoix County however. In 1856 they were one of only four families living in Pine River. The village of Charlevoix was platted in that year. Medad and Phoebe remained there the rest of their lives. Medad died there in 1886 at age 86 and Phoebe died there in 1893 at age 84. The Strangites were disbanded, but because Medad and Phoebe remained, many of their descendants are still there.