Category Archives: Allegan County History

House of Judah Cult Invades Allegan County


House of Judah BaselineIn the mid 1970s, it was discovered that the Chicago-based “House of Judah” cult (a replacement theology hate organization espousing the “Black Hebrew Israel” heresy) had a compound on Baseline Road on the edge of Allegan County.

The cult’s demise in Allegan County, at that time (it has since reemerged), was the beating death of a child living in their compound – 12-year-old Jonathan Yarbough on 4 July 1983.  At least two more children would die in that cult compound before it was all over – 11-year-old Michelle Watkins and 7-year-old Joel Watkins, both dying in 1984.

This Black-Supremacist cult teaches that the only “true Israelites” are African (including African-American), and that “Jesus” (their version of Him) will return to slaughter all non-Blacks and all Blacks who do not embrace their teachings.

William A. Lewis was the leader of the Allegan County branch of the cult.


2013 mlive retrospective: I was one of those children

Reporter Barry Shanley remembers the cult encampment

Psych Eval of the Cult


Chicora KKK Fundraising Quilt Emerges


In 1926, the Ku Klux Klan was thriving in Michigan, as evidenced by Chicora’s 77th Michigan Klavern’s lengthy roster of dues-paying members whose names are included in that year’s quilt (recently accepted for donation by Michigan State University).

Chicora KKK Quilt

Members primarily consisted of Calvinists (mostly Dutch Reformed) and, reputedly, some Catholics.  Their meeting place was the Chicora United Brethren Church (then a non-denominational church).

Family names found in the quilt and other records include Busfield, Giles, Goodwin, McNutt, Reifel, Rowe, Sweet, Torrey, Tripp, and Wall… all names still represented in the County.

An article by MacDowell, Quinney, and Worrall gives more detail into this dark chapter of broken “race relations” in Allegan County.



The Great Bank Scandal of 1860s


In 1837, two state banks were established in Allegan County: one in Allegan and one in Singapore (now a ghost town near Saugatuck). Both practiced what was then called “wildcat banking.”

Singapore Bank Note

Over $50,000 in Singapore Bank notes were circulated in 1838. Shortly after the Civil War, it was legislated that state banks were required to maintain enough hard currency on hand to cover at least 1/3 of the banknotes that were circulating, and neither Singapore nor Allegan was at that level.

Bank of Allegan NoteWhen Allegan State Bank would receive warning from nearby towns that the state bank examiner was coming through, the two banks would pool all the money from Singapore State Bank and Allegan State Bank at Allegan. After the inspection, the banker in Allegan would make sure to get the bank examiner drunk. While he slept, they would get a head start on him and take all the money from Allegan to Singapore State Bank in time to pass the inspection there.

Source: Jack Douglas Buist, Course Lectures, US History (Allegan, Mich.: Allegan Senior High School, 1987-8).