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Kenneth Mays
Meeting house of present-day members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), at the site where Voree, Wisconsin was located.

Following the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, a number of individuals stepped forward claiming that they should succeed him as leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One of those was James J. Strang, a man who had been baptized four months before the martyrdom of Joseph and his brother Hyrum. Although Strang was subsequently excommunicated from the LDS Church, he continued proselyting followers who gathered to Voree, Wisconsin, on the banks of the White River. Strang declared that the name Voree means “garden of peace.”

Historical plaque on a marker at the site where Voree, Wisconsin was once located. It is a map of the settlement. | Kenneth Mays

At one point, his followers included three former members of the Quorum of the Twelve and other prominent members. But, according to Leonard Arrington in "Brigham Young: American Moses," “Most of Strang’s backing evaporated …and at no point did he represent a numerically significant challenge to Brigham’s leadership.”

Strang moved his colony from Voree to Beaver Island, Wisconsin, at the northern end of Lake Michigan in 1849. Glen M. Leonard writes in "Nauvoo, a Place of Peace, a People of Promise" that the number of Strang’s followers there peaked at about 500.

Strang was shot, allegedly, by upset followers in 1856. He was taken back to Voree and there clung to life for a short while before passing away in a home that still stands.

An organization in the Strang tradition continues today, traditionally called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite). This group has a meetinghouse at the site of old Voree, now present-day Burlington, Wisconsin. The structure is situated on property that faces Mormon Road, which is the actual border of Racine and Walworth counties.