A child of the sea, and life among the Mormons
This is the vivid memoir of a mid-nineteenth-century girlhood spent mostly on the islands of Lake Michigan and the onshore communities of Manistique, Charlevoix, Traverse City, and Little Traverse (now Harbor Springs), written by a woman who grew up to be a lighthouse keeper on Beaver Island and in Little Traverse. Williams was brought up Catholic by a French-speaking mother and an English-speaking father who was a ship's carpenter for entrepreneurs engaged in the mercantile trade to and from these rapidly developing settlements. Williams depicts cordial, even intimate, relationships between her family and the Indians who lived nearby, and describes the courtship and arranged marriage of an Ottawa chief's daughter who lived with her family for an extended period. The major portion of the book, however, is devoted to her eye-witness recollections of James Jesse Strang's short-lived dissident Mormon monarchy on Beaver Island, amplified by stories she heard from disillusioned followers. Strang was expelled from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints after disputing Brigham Young's right to succeed Joseph Smith. Eventually he and his own loyal followers settled on Beaver Island and attracted a stream of new converts; at their demographic peak, the "Strangites" numbered 5,000 strong. Strang saw himself as a prophet and believed the rules he tried to establish were in accord with divine revelations. Williams describes the mounting tensions between Strang's followers and the "gentile" residents who fled the island as Strang's influence grew; incidents connected with Strang's assassination by two former followers; and the ensuing exodus of most Strangites from Beaver Island. She later moved back there with her family, as did many of the earlier inhabitants.
Life on Beaver Island and at other places near Lake Michigan , with an account of the "Mormon kingdom" on Beaver Island.
Also available in digital form.