The Society for Strang Studies
founded in 2000 to facilitate research into the life and accomplishment of James Jesse Strang

   

 
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J.J. Strang Writer's Society
Issue No. 13
May 29, 2004

Greetings Strang Gang,
It's almost here. Our first (and hopefully first of many) Strang Conference on Beaver Island. I've attached a copy of the agenda which is somewhat more complete than that included in our last newsletter.

We have at least ten confirmed attendees and I hope that some of you who were not sure if you would be able to attend can make it. Although it would be nice to know you are planning to attend, don't let a last minute decision stop you from coming.

From Bill Cashman, about possibility of putting on a Strang play:
“...2006 is a good target date. I spoke with the committee about to start construction on the new Community Theater (seating 149) and they were very receptive to hosting our schedule in 2006, which will probably be the Theater's inaugural season.
“I also wonder if it would be worthwhile to suggest a collaborative effort among the gang to produce, for 2006 publication, a kind of Winesburg Ohio about Strang's community: vignettes of life on Beaver Island in the early 1850s, with Strang himself never a principal protagonist and the prevalent opinions about him, presented in the vignettes, occasionally somewhat at odds and contradictory.”

Great news from Vickie Speek:
“I heard from Signature Books today. They accepted my manuscript. It's at the top of the list for next year. Hurray!”
From new member Frank Solle:
“First, I need to thank Bill Cashman for “signing me up” for this group. I am looking forward to meeting many of you at the upcoming gathering here on Beaver Island.

“Second, in keeping with the practice of introducing ourselves, please allow me to do so:
“My family moved to the island in 1968 when my stepfather accepted the position of island physician. I finished my final three years of high school here, and was one of four graduates of the class of 1971. A side note to that point is the fourth member of the class (the only girl among six juniors and seniors that year) moved to the island with her family only that spring, and, considering her six-week membership in the class, we are hesitant to count her. A second side note would be that her family considered themselves to be followers of J.J. Strang’s teachings. The family name escapes me, but the school may still have record of it. The family did not stay long on the island.

“But back to my story...I continued to summer on the island (who wouldn’t - it was the 70s, it was the island, it was summer, there were girls, there was beer, I was young...) the next few years, eventually hooking up with the daughter of longtime summer residents. We married and after we both finished school at Northern Michigan U. in Marquette, we moved to Montana in 1980.

“Once our son finished high school my wife decided she wanted to further her education and we moved to Salt Lake City - yes, the one in Utah, home of the “real” Mormon Church - just ask them. While she attended graduate nursing school, I worked downtown in a large bookstore (Sam Weller’s for anyone familiar with the city of salt), which, while not associated with the church - Sam was a classic Jack Mormon - does possess an impressive collection of LDS literature, both new and used, and could be a good reference source for some. My fellow workers and I had some interesting discussions of Strang and Young.
“Two years in the city were enough for us, besides it was time for my wife to pay back her government-sponsored education with two years service as a Nurse Practitioner in an “under served” area. For us, that meant a return to Michigan’s U.P., where we stayed for seven years prior to our return to the Beaver last fall when my wife accepted a Nurse Practitioner position here. Circle complete. For both of us.

“The years away from the island found me in various forms of employ besides book seller; from mill worker to metal worker to janitor to little league commissioner to school teacher to martial arts teacher to journalist (well, okay, sportswriter). In the U.P. I continued as a sportswriter, primarily for a small weekly paper - where I also covered numerous local “news” events and wrote a weekly column - while stringing for a number of daily papers and doing occasional stories for other weeklies. In addition, I wrote a number of book reviews for a monthly publication in Marquette. I also have tried to develop what little talent I can muster in writing bad-to-mediocre poetry, along with the occasional short story. I also have a penchant for photography - which has landed me in the position of high school yearbook advisor here on the island - and I am in the process of developing a line of Beaver Island greeting cards plus toying with the idea of opening a digital photography business.

“I have as yet not written anything about Strang, but I have had an interest in his story since first arriving here some 36 years ago. I’ve read some of the island history books (Doyle Fitzpatrick gave the graduates of 1971 a copy of his book), but know I have a large learning curve ahead of me. My interest in writing about the BI Mormons was piqued not only by our return here, but also by Jon Krakauer’s recent book Under the Banner of Heaven. I had the opportunity to meet Jon in SLC when he gave a talk about his “Into The Wild” book the week prior to leaving for Nepal and what turned into the Mt. Everest tragedy he wrote about in Into Thin Air.

“Having experience modern Mormonism in SLC gives me a different outlook on the entire church history. While there I was kicked off the plaza in front of the church headquarters for doing my morning Tai Chi by the fountain. I was accused of performing “incantations.”
“As far as writing about Strang and BI, I would say my interest lies in either fiction or narrative poem as opposed to anything of a nonfiction manner. And even that may be a stretch. I would, however, be willing to offer any assistance I can to others in the group, be it helping in research or acting as a reader-critic-editor.

“So, in a little more than a nutshell, there you have it.

From new member Adam Bedford: “My name is Adam Bedford (the last name probably sound familiar - more on that later). I am 32 years old and live in Rockford, Michigan. I'm a mechanical engineer with 3 young children.

“My interest in James Strang arose while researching my family history in the last year. As I'm sure you know, Strang was murdered by (at least in part, apparently) a Thomas Bedford. Why I have never been able to get any real level of confirmation, it appears that this Thomas Bedford was the brother of my great, great, great grandfather. This much I know: my great, great, great grandfather did have a brother that was named Thomas Bedford. This Thomas Bedford was about the right age at the time of the murder to fit. The Bedford brothers all lived in the Michigan/Wisconsin area during that generation. My great grandmother completed some genealogy work many years ago and had several references to the Strang murder in the pile of records she compiled (though she died many years before I began my own search - making it impossible for me to learn what she knew). The name is right, the dates seem to be right, and family history seems to hint in that direction. While not an odd last name by any means, there don't seem to be a large number of references to different Bedford families in the Michigan and Wisconsin areas during that era.”

From new member Phyllis Moore:
“Yes, Bill Cashman told me about your group and he forwarded me several of the past issues. I plan on reading them this evening after work. Thanks for including me in your mailing list.

“As for me, my name is Phyllis Moore and I’ve lived on the island almost all my life, and have very few recollections of living anywhere else. I attended Grand Valley State College with a major in art history. I was the director of the Beaver Island Historical Society prior to Bill Cashman but left that job after three years. I am now the assistant librarian at the Beaver Island District Library. I also do an island website www.beaverislandtour.com which is a virtual tour of the island along with doing the Beaver Island News on the ‘Net (www.beaverislandnews.com) which is a weekly synopsis of the local news. I’ve always been interested in Strang as I had an ancestor who came with him James Greig. In fact, if I could pick one person in the past to meet, James J. Strang would be my choice.”

 

J.J. Strang Writer's Society
Issue No. 13, part 2
May 31, 2004


From Bill Olson wolsonitol.com

I don't intend to set a precedent by sending two issues in two days so we'll call this issue 13, part 2.

Bill Cashman sends the following about part 1 of issue 13:
“In my notes I forgot to mention Rebecca's stalwart contribution, which I will do here:
“Another interesting group of points occurred during a presentation by Rebecca Carlson, who passed out copies of Strang's portrait and asked those present if they agreed with the impressions formed by members of her writing class, who were not told whose face this was. Most of the conference attendees did agree that the image was of someone who was intense, domineering, cold and calculating, harsh, and having intellectual depth, A few, though, perhaps trying to protect from projecting interpretations based on their knowledge of Strang, argued against the image showing harshness, coldness, or intellectual depth (capacity, yes, but not depth.)”
__________________________________________________________
The two Bills (Cashman and Olson) came up with the following proposed charter for our organization as a result of discussions at the conference. It seemed that members present felt it was time to create a formal organization.

The following is NOT intended to be a finished product but rather to provide a framework upon which all members may contribute suggestions. Although there is no pressing need to finalize this in the immediate future, it should probably be adopted before our next conference (or annual meeting?) next year in order that we may function properly in setting up the 2006 Conference. Please send comments to Bill Olson at: wolsonitol.com or by snail mail to RR1, Box 107AA, Washington Island, WI 54246.
__________________________________________________________
J.J. Strang Writers Society
The Mission of the J.J. Strang Writers Society is to promote scholarly research and to stimulate and facilitate interest in James Jesse Strang.

  1. The name of the organization shall be "The Strang Writers Society."
  2. The society’s purpose
    a. To make Beaver Island a center for Strang scholarship.
    b. To provide fellowships for Strang writers.
    c. To promote events related to Strang.
    d. To obtain grants to provide funding for the above.
    e. Other.
  3. Membership will be open to anyone with an interest in Strang.
  4. Dues for membership shall be set from time to time depending upon need.
  5. Officers to be elected by the membership:
    a. Chairman
    b. Vice-chairman
    c. Treasurer
    d. Secretary
  6. Annual meetings shall be held during the last half of June each year.
  7. A newsletter shall be published quarterly or more frequently as needed. It shall be distributed either by e-mail or USPS.
  8. Relations with other organizations
    a. Beaver Island Historical Society: Possibly operate under the umbrella of their 501-C3 tax status.
    b. Michigan Humanities Council ?
    c. Other organizations (as members may suggest)

 

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