James Jesse Strang once proclaimed himself “king” and leader of the Mormon faithful. Here, in 1844, he established the Mormon community of Voree—“the Garden of Peace”—at the behest of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The hamlet soon became the home of a dissenting sect, known as the Strangite Mormons. Strang had been a Mormon only a few months when an anti-Mormon mob murdered Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois. As followers vied for the presidency, Strang produced a letter, allegedly from Smith, appointing him successor. Brigham Young labeled the document a forgery, excommunicated Strang, proclaimed himself the chosen leader, and eventually led followers to Salt Lake City, Utah. But he could not prevent Strang from developing a following of his own. Between 1844 and 1847, Strang asserted his claim as the true leader of Mormondom through revelations and miracles, including the discovery of brass plates etched with hieroglyphics, which he deciphered and published as The Book of the Law of the Lord. His experience echoed the original revelations, in which Smith found a set of golden tablets and translated them as The Book of Mormon. Hostilities from neighboring communities and dissent within the colony led Strang in 1847 to move the congregation to Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, where he proclaimed himself king, complete with a coronation ceremony. In 1856, Strang returned to Voree following an assassination attempt by two members of his colony. He died in his parents’ house.
Built around 1844, that house is a simple cottage constructed of limestone rubble, laid in a random pattern with ample mortar. From the one-and-a-half-story block, the side gable sweeps down to the rear, where it shelters a one-story wing, creating a saltbox profile. Saltbox roofs, well known in New England, may once have been common in Wisconsin, but few survive. In the Strang House, the rear extension appears to be an addition, but it was probably built soon after construction of the larger portion.