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April 2014

From the Koreshan Archives:
APRIL
 —  Last month we looked at some of the struggle, by some, to replace Dr. Teed by claiming the mantle of his leadership. This month, we look at some correspondence of Annie Ordway, also known as Victoria Gratia. Victoria (and many others, including Koresh), considered herself the rightful successor to Cyrus Teed (Koresh). Teed proclaimed her the “Pre-Eminent”. He gave her the name “Victoria Gratia Koresh”. When Teed died in 1908, Victoria was in Washington D.C. attending to Koreshan business. She immediately returned to Estero and arrived back on December 26th. The New York Times reported that she immediately ordered his body interred (NTY-December 27, 1908). This apparently caused an uproar among the faithful and within no time at all, Victoria was replaced by the Board of Directors. She relocated to Sanford Florida and on August 29, 1909 she married Addison Graves, the Koreshan dentist. He died on May 31, 1922 and on the anniversary of Teed’s birth in 1920, [see pencilled date on the image - 1919 appears to have been added even later] she wrote a proclamation offering to return to the colony at Estero. Page-1 of that document is presented below. Page-2 can be accessed via the link below the image. The document consists of eleven pages in total. It is made up mostly of references to Teed’s writing about the role of Victoria.

Victoria's Proclamation - Click for a larger image


Click here for Page-2 of this document

Of course, the majority did not accept this offer, or perhaps they never even considered it, and Victoria eventually moved to St. Petersburg Florida where she died on January 8, 1923.

Victoria, a.k.a. Annie Ordway was born Annie Grace Glossen in Boston, on April 10, 1844. She was married to David Ordway and at some point left her husband, presumably to join Dr. Teed’s movement.

Categories: Uncategorized.

March 2014 – More from the Dark Side:

In the October 2012 Posting, we featured an article about what we termed, the “Dark Side”, that is, some of the sideshows that went on in or around the Koreshan Unity. We’ve also mentioned previously that there were any number of people, groups and beliefs that attempted to subvert, take over or change the Koreshan Unity, it’s leadership and beliefs. There was a core of Koreshan followers, mainly the Bubbetts, Rahns, Hunts, Andrews and others who hung on to most of the original beliefs making sure that these rivals would never get a foot hold.

That October 2012 article talked about one “Edgar Peissart”. More information about Edgar has come to light and we want to share that information along with information about other communal groups. I hope to show that although the Koreshans were one of the leading communal groups of the 19th and 20th century, there were many many others with beliefs similar to those of the Koreshans. One such group was the Panacea Society. They were similar to the Koreshans in that their leader claimed to be the Messiah. In this case, it was a woman, named Mabel Baltrop, also known as “Octavia”. They believed that she was the daughter of God, sent to build the New Jerusalem. In addition, they preached a celibacy. Sound familiar?

The point here is not to explore the Panaceans, or Octavia, but to discuss the escapades of Edgar Peissart, the one-time Koreshan and member of many other communal groups. In 2011, a book was published about Octavia, entitled Octavia, Daughter of God: The Story of a Female Messiah and Her Followers by Jane Shaw.

Here are some excerpts from the book with reagrd to Edgar Peissart.

… Edgar Peissart continued to write to several of the central women of the Society. In January 1921, he wrote to Ellen Oliver asking where his Royal Seal was and why he had had no reply from Octavia about his request to come and live in the community. repeating that he had indeed accepted her call. Never one to take a hint, or indeed accept a bald truth, he asked plaintively, ‘What is the matter?’ The answer, drafted by Octavia the following month (they did not rush to reply), stated, ‘the reason we have never sent you a seal is that it would be impossible to anyone who makes the claims that you make. He believed Octavia’s status as the daughter of God, but his own claim to be a messiah figure went alongside it. and the women could not accept this. They made it clear that they followed Jesus Christ, ‘the immortal man’ who ‘has a body’ that ‘can walk on water, pass through doors’ and is ‘Father, Husband, Brother, Friend’. They had no need of another divine man. ‘Therefore it would be no kindness to you to allow you to ally yourself with women who are pledged by an act of homage and a most solemn oath‘ to Jesus Christ. Edgar was told firmly to endeavor to overcome his deluded claims and ‘come face to face with yourself as a man’.‘ Edgar Peissart was a religious seeker, mixing ideas from many different belief systems. His life was a perpetual quest for the truth and thus a perpetual disappointment as his attempts to find it — or explain what he thought it was to others — were frustrated. His itinerant religiosity was remarkable. If any one person could find and attempt to join most of the marginalized Christian communities and heterodox religious groups of his time, then Edgar Peissart was that man. Over three decades, he lived all over America as he went about the religious quest that in 1922 brought him to the Panaceans in Bedford. External evidence of his movements shows him popping up in at least four different religious communities in the last decade of the nineteenth century and first decade of the twentieth, while notes that Octavia made indicate his membership of yet others. He was born in Pennsylvania. and his first recorded membership in a church is in that state in a Mennonite church in Milford Township, Lehigh County, in Pennsylvania, for a year: he joined in July 1893 and withdrew in 1894.’ Octavia’s notes suggest that he then became a Russellite — a follower of Charles Taze Russell, whose group was a precursor to the Jehovah’s Witnesses; in 1896, a member of the River Brethren in Pennsylvania, a Mennonite offshoot; and in 1898, one of ‘John Wroe’s people’, as Octavia put it: the Christian Israelites. He next appears in any external records as a part of the House of David, a Southcottian community in Benton Harbor. Michigan, that had developed out of the Christian Israelites in 1903-4, which also believed they had Shiloh incarnated in their leaders, Mary and Benjamin Purnell. He joined in March 1903, early in the community’s history, and stayed there for five years. While there, he was ‘man milliner’ to ‘hundreds of their females!!!!’ as he put it. The Benjamin and Mary community set up an extraordinary tourist resort in their grounds, to which thousands of visitors and holidaymakers thronged, arriving by boat across Lake Michigan or on the train from Chicago to the funfairs, cafés, concerts, baseball games (they had a famous team), jazz concerts and miniature railways. Early in the days of that resort’s development, Edgar worked as a cashier at the ice-cream parlors, restaurants and miniature railroads. and was head of their greenhouses where, he boasted. he grew thousands of different geraniums. He was one of the people sent to New York in 1905 to greet a group of Christian Israelites arriving from Australia, led by William Bulley, on behalf of the Benton Harbor House of David. In his typically self-aggrandizing style, Peissart claimed he was ‘the means used by Jesus. to cause William Bulley, an old man, and 83 souls, to leave Australia on a seven weeks sea voyage, via Palestine, for New York City, where Mr Peissart and the Manager of the Colony awaited them, with a special train, to go about three more days journey to Michigan.’ The Australians brought $100,000 with them, for the House of David, and Peissart implicitly claimed responsibility for that wind-fall, as well as attracting many others to the colony.’ His personal style was remarked on by others: Joseph Hannaford, an Englishman who went to be a member of the Benton Harbor House of David community in 1905, alluded to Edgar Peissart’s flamboyancy when he described someones dramatic gesture as ‘a la Peissart’. …Edgar’s next move was to the Koreshan Unity community on the banks of the River Estero near Fort Myers, Florida. When he arrived there he had the trademark long hair and beard of the Christian lsraelites, and was remembered by members of the Koreshan community as a bit of an ‘oddball’. This community had moved to Estero in Florida in the last decade of the nineteenth century, having formerly been in Chicago. lts leader, Dr Cyrus Teed. known as Koresh (the Hebrew title of the biblical King Cyrus), in a syncretistic style that was typical of the late nineteenth century, mixed Christian, quasi-Hindu and scientific beliefs, teaching that the world was hollow and the human race was living in it. At its height. between 1904 and 1908. the community had about 250 members. as well as homes for the members, a community dining hall. a sawmill, a printing house. concrete works, post office, general store and bakery. Edgar next appears attempting to join the Florida Shaker group, near Ashton in Osceola County. which had been established in the area in 1894. He declared that he was in sympathy with the Shakers, but they found him quite unsuitable. Shaker Ezra J. Stewart wrote in May I911, ‘As a result of an interview with the elders here . . . [it was thought best] that Edgar should depart [for Estero] next morning by train . . . as his views were found to be quite different from ours . . . He evidently hoped to set up a little kingdom here with himself as leader. [He] wears finger rings, and has much distaste for work, although fairly strong and in good health’.

… Cyrus Teed, the Koreshan leader. like the Shakers. taught the inner circle of followers that their celibacy would lead them to immortality and certainly claimed immortal life for himself, and Octavia likewise advocated singleness and celibacy as the best way forward on the road to immortality. All three groups taught that God was both male and female, and that both male and female elements of the divine needed to be manifested on earth. Teed differed from Ann Lee of the Shakers and Octavia in that he also taught regeneration (or reincarnation) and he believed that God had sent six messengers to earth (Adam, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Elijah and Jesus); he – Koresh — was the seventh. Cyrus Teed died on 22 December 1908. and was not raised on the third day (Christmas Day) as he had told his followers would happen. The community kept Cyrus propped up in a bathtub, with high hopes that he would be resurrected or regenerated. but finally on 27 December the county health officer ordered the body to be taken away and buried. Edgar, who had arrived at Estero just in time to know Teed for a month before he died, believed that Teed’s spirit had passed into him on Teed’s deathbed. He wrote that Teed ‘consciously passed over to me, all the Spirits of the new Jerusalem’ whom he had gathered into his bosom. Edgar believed that these spirits were now the inspiration of his teaching. ‘full of wisdom because they possessed the kingdom of God within’.“ He took to calling himself Cyrus or Koresh and had a flyer made up in which his own picture was superimposed on Cyrus Teed’s, as Teed’s receded into the background. He also made similar claims about the Shakers’ leader Ann Lee, suggesting that he was the true heir to her leadership, and made up posters to the effect, titled ‘Projection of the Mother Lord Ann Lee’. Mother Ann Lee had been long dead; the Shakers were having none of it; and they saw through him. But the period just after the charismatic leader of a group dies is a vulnerable one: it often fractures, with individuals claiming to take on the dead leader’s authority. This is exactly what happened with the Koreshans.“ Edgar Peissart was leader of one of the splinter groups. and spent his time corresponding with various members — he had long, annotated typed lists of people he thought sympathetic to his cause — who might support his claims to have inherited the spirit and leadership of Dr Teed. He wrote theological tracts in which he presented his claim to be the ‘Son of Man’ or the ‘second cherub’, and published a newsletter called the Messenger in which he detailed the treacherous antics of other Koreshans. It is no surprise that once he had established himself in the Panacea Society. he made a bid for power there too. A picture emerges of a man who went from community to community, seeking not only truth but also power, disgruntled and dissatisfied when people did not recognize him and his gifts, but not above returning to a community he had rejected if he saw a further opportunity to get into the leadership.((1))

It is no surprise that people like Edgar Peissart tried to claim Teed’s mantle, as many did, but it is a surprise to read of this kind of account of one of those claimants. Reading Koreshan literature after Teed’s death, one would have never known about these kind of people. The Harry Manleys, Edgar Peissarts, and others like them ended up making little impact upon the Unity, although they did draw away some of the wayward.

Edgar was eventually drummed out of the Panacea Society as well. His eventual fate is unknown.

  1. Excerpts from: Octavia, Daughter of God: The Story of a Female Messiah and Her Followers Yale University Press, 2011 []

Categories: Monthly Feature.

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February 2014

FEBRUARY 2014
[The archives database has been updated - As of January 30, 2014]

This month, I want to return to a closer look at some of the offshoots of the Koreshan movement after the death of Cyrus Teed. I have no doubt in the “faith” of many Koreshans and how, over time, that faith either faded with the acceptance of the fact that Cyrus Teed was NOT the New Messiah, or that faith was re-energized by a new belief that Teed’s legacy was to be carried on by others.

Based on the information that we have in the archives, there seemed to be a “core” group who either believed in Teed’s eventual return, or believed somehow that Teed’s plan would unfold in another way, but NOT through the appearance of other “pseudo-messiahs”. This group consisted of many of the original members — the Bubbett Family, the Silverfriends and the Boomers Also the Hunts, Andrews and the Rahns. These people are the ones who made up the Koreshan Unity through the years leading up to the demise, (for all intents and purposes) when the Unity donated their land holdings to the State of Florida.

There were, of course, others. The Thomas Gay and E. Benson Steele group who formed a community in Fort Myers called the Order of Theocracy, publishing the “Double Edge Sword” Another group clung to the belief that perhaps Victoria Gratia, A.K.A. Annie Ordway was perhaps the one who should come back to lead the believers. This seems to have been a rather small minority, especially in light of the fact that Victoria had been “banished”, although the circumstances under which she left have never been clear.

Then there were those on the fringes. The acquisition, a few years ago, of the Harry Manley Papers show us a side that I must say I do not totally understand. They seemed to go off in directions completely out of line with core Koreshan beliefs. This “group” of individuals were not a very large group, so their beliefs were not held by a large number of people. In fact, it may have only been Manley and a few others. The ideas of the German, Peter Bender come into play here. Bender, a believer in the “Hollow Earth” theories of Cyrus Teed, was not a believer in Teed’s religious beliefs. In fact, Bender appears to have held other ideas. He was a proponent of polygamy and other counter cultural ideas. In 1919 he rejected Christianity. In 1921 the Mayor of Worms, Germany, forbade him from speaking publicly as he was accused of obscene writings and blasphemy.

Harry Manley and Hedwig Michel

Harry Manley and Hedwig Michel

Harry Manley seems to have followed some of those ideas as well, bringing with him (at least in his own writings) notable names like Hedwig Michel and Bertie Boomer.

There is only an occasional mention of most of these groups in the Koreshan literature, post 1908. At the same time, some of the correspondence that we have, such as the letters from Eugene Webster to Bethaldine Boomer seem to indicate at least a cordial relationship with some of those who followed other paths, particularly those who sought to have Victoria re-instated.

Regarding Harry Manley, (which is where most of the material on these other groups came from). He was supposedly a member of the Unity, although as far was we know, he never lived inside the community. He lived, for awhile, in the caretaker’s home on the Boomer property. Eventually he lived on Katherine Street in Fort Myers. As I already stated, Manley had a number of ideas, all present in his transcribed letters to and from Peter Bender and others. These ideas were NOT Teed’s teachings. I have noted the lack of Harry Manley’s name in Claude Rahn’s membership lists. However, not being included in Claude Rahn’s list doesn’t mean that one in not a Koreshan. Manley certainly had contact with many of the “core” that I mentioned above. His correspondence with Peter Bender shows how Manley and others attempted to bring Bender out of Nazi Germany, but it obviously never happened.Bender Death Record Bender died in a Nazi concentration camp, on April 4, 1944. (Another source says April 2, 1944) The camp, Mauthausen-Gusen, was located in Austria and was generally used to incarcerate intellectuals. The reason for his incarceration was: “wife was a Jew” and “Party behavior”. Also see the Wikipedia entry which you can find here You will see, to the right, the entry from Ancestry.com, taken from the Concentration Camp Death Record books. His wife, Charlotte, who was Jewish, was declared dead later. On June 30, 1951 the authorities of the Federal Republic of Germany declared her dead as of December 31, 1945.but there was never any record of her death.

Last month, we featured the first “Community Current Events” column from 1916. This month, we would like to include part of the second month, February 1916.

Current Events in Our Community Life
BY D.J. RICHARDS
February 1916

On Sunday, Jan’y 16, a party from the Unity made a .trip to what is known as the Imperial River, a very beautiful stream that leads from the Gulf of Mexico into Bonita Springs, a little town eight miles south of Estero by land; but to reach it by water is over twenty miles. This river, from the mouth and up for about a mile, is known as the Auger Hole, so designated because of its many turns, with smaller, streams leading into it. The oddity of this stream at this point makes it very attractive though very confusing, and to traverse it the first time is a rare treat and a novel experience. The day was ideal, and everyone enjoyed the outing, arriving home in good time for the evening Service.

Our boat, “The Estero,” is kept very busy these days hauling fruit, and our brothers are having a strenuous time keeping up with the volume of business. We have two 24 h.p. engines in “The Estero,” but for some weeks one engine had to do all the work, as the crank shaft of the other engine was broken, which hindered the work very much. But this now is ancient history, since we have had a new shaft installed, and the engines are running all right. “The Estero’s” carrying capacity is fifteen tons; she is quite roomy, and we can stow away over five hundred boxes of fruit in her hold. When the traffic is very heavy, we have to take a trailer. In January we hauled 4,266 boxes of grapefruit, 596 boxes of oranges, and 753 boxess of tangerines to Fort Myers. Our nearest railroad point is Fort Myers, and thousands of boxes of fruit are shipped in there daily from all parts of Lee County, and during the busy season a trainload of fruit leaves Fort Myers every day for all points north. …The Estero grove contains 200 acres, and from forty to fifty thousand boxes of grapefruit are shipped from here each season. Two boats of their own, each carrying a carload, are kept busy several months in the year.

The Unity is building a new barn for Mr. L. S. Boomer, of New York City. Mr. Boomer bought what was formerly known as the Tarter Grove. A number of I our brother carpenters have been busily engaged on this work for some time, and it is now nearing completion. Brother Stephen Chislett has the work in charge, and from all appearances, it is going to be one of the finest barns in I Lee County.

Categories: Monthly Feature.

January 2014

Happy New Year!!

Here is, yet another, Community Current Events column that ran in the Flaming Sword. I cannot stress enough how it is an excellent source for those everyday things that occurred in the Unity. With the dawning of this new year, we wish to present the very first Community Current Events column, which appeared in January 1916. This was eight years after the death of Teed and it appears, at least to me, that the atmosphere in the Unity was changing, albeit slightly. Koresh had NOT returned which prompted some to reformulate their beliefs. Other may have given up all hope and still others turned to other ways of explaining the reasons for the lack of activity.

Current Events in Our Community Life
BY D. J. RICHARDS
January 1916

BEGINNING with this issue of THE FLAMING SWORD, we will give our readers a brief account of whatever of interest transpires in our Community during the month. Every Sunday evening Service is held at the Art Hall. One of the brothers conducts the meeting; another officiates at the piano, and one of the six readers (of which there are three sisters and three brothers) reads selected articles from the Writings of our Master. Sunday evening, Dec. 12, the Service was conducted as follows: The congregation sang two Koreshan songs, after which excerpts were read from THE; FLAMING SWORD of Jan’y 25 and Feb’y 1, 1890, and also from the “Guiding Star,” Vol. II, pp. 256 to 259, bearing on the origin of the Teutonic family of nations, with the derivation and definition of the word Teuton. A solo was then rendered, entitled “In the Hollow of His Hand.” This is a comforting thought to all Koreshans, since we know that hand represents the power of truth in ultimates, and that the Science of Universology is the only source from which such knowledge may be gained. The second reading was “The Civilization of the Indo-Germanic Race; Derivation and Definition of the Word German,” from THE; FLAMING SWORD of Aug. 29, 1905. Portions of all these articles were reprinted in the December, 1915, SWORD, pp. 370 and 371. The congregation then sang another song, after which a prayer written by KORESH was read, at the close of which the congregation repeated in concert these words: “Our Father-Mother Deity; with oral acclamation we resound our prayer and praise! Thou art our Hero! Let us glorify Thy name, and Thou, 0 God, glorify us in Thy Holy Temple!” The Service concluded with the singing of the anthem, “Lift Up Your Heads, 0 Ye Gates.”

We are pleased to announce that two new members have recently joined us, both coming from California; Mrs. C. A. Place is from Hayward, and Mrs. H. D. Wilbur from San Francisco. It is indeed gratifying to find people who have had enough of competism, and crave the communistic life. It is well to heed the plea of our Shepherd, to “Yield up the world and its allurements, its bonds. Break the tie; go forward to the promised land. Let God direct. Yield your life to God, and be redeemed with an immortal redemption. Be His children and heirs to his throne, Kings and Priests unto God, for his Name’s Sake.”

Our new boat, the “Estero,” makes schedule trips to Fort Myers every Tuesday and Friday, returning the following days respectively. Sometimes during the fruit season the schedule is interfered with, owing to increased traffic. Lee County is one of the best citrus growing sections in the country, and Estero has many excellent groves of luscious grapefruit, oranges, and tangerines.

The Service for Dec. 19 was very well attended, and the enthusiasm with which our people sang was very marked. A sister read “The Law of Progressive Life,” from the “Guiding Star,” Vol. II, pp. 249 to 254. This is a most wonderful article, dealing with the law of seed-time and harvest, or cause and effect. The solo for the evening was, “Open the Gates of the Temple.” The words were written by that famous author, Fanny Crosby, and the music by Mrs. Knapp. Nothing unusual transpired during Christmas week at the Unity, but from the activities of the local Post Office, it was plain to be seen that the spirit of giving was as much indulged in as ever. We observe Christmas as a legal holiday; other than that it has very little significance to us, since we have come to know that the seventh Messianic manifestation, with a “New Name,” as prophetically foretold, made his appearance on Oct. 18, 1839, and this is the day we celebrate.((1))

Sunday evening, Dec. 26, the last Service for the memorable year of 1915 was held. We surely ought to be the happiest people in the world, because we have the light with which this sin-cursed world is to be illuminated. The first article read was “Devachan and Nirvana,” from FLAMING SWORD of Aug. 13, 1892. The male quartette sang “The Lord Is Great,” written by Walter Howe Jones; following this number, two more short articles were read respectively from FLAMING SWORD of June 25, and June 11, 1892, under the caption of “Theology.” The last paragraph in the last article reads as follows: “The hand that lays its desecrating touch upon the God-ordained and Koreshan fruit of Christian evolution shall become palsied, for no power in earth or hell can, with impunity, attempt the retardation of this mountain of God’s eternal progress.” Following this we listened to a very pleasing solo, “The Star of Bethlehem;” and with the reading of a prayer and the singing of the anthem, “Lift- Up Your Heads,” the Service closed. These Services are very inspiring and a stimulus to all who attend them. We have with us as guests, Mr. and Mrs. Ashley, of Savannah, Ga. Mr. Ashley has been a reader of THE SWORD for many years; but Mrs. Ashley is a comparatively new student, and is very much impressed with the profound teachings of our illustrious Shepherd.

On Saturday evening, Jan’y 1, a social entertainment was given at the Art Hall, which consisted of music, games, dancing, and refreshments. When the participants entered the Hall they were presented with “Good Resolution Caps” and 1916 badges. Each cap was inscribed with a word suggestive of a gift or grace of character, such as: “Moderate, Cheerful, Thorough, Forgiving,” etc. Then came a New Year’s March, to orchestra music, in which all the newly decorated members participated. Some of the games were quite amusing, and the reading of “Mr. Dooley,” and “Way Down South Once More,” by Sister Berthaldine, was enjoyed by all. (Sisters and brothers do not dance together.) Mr. Paul Sargent, son of our worthy brother, John S., sent his father two barrels of the finest apples grown in the state of Illinois. During the evening we were treated to some of them, which we enjoyed very much. Mr. Sargent’s visit to us a year ago is fresh in our memory, and particularly when we visit the Art Hall, because of the two paintings he left with the Unity, which are a source of joy to all. Mr. Sargent left a warm spot in the hearts of our people, and we appreciate his ability as an artist. Our first Service for 1916 was held Sunday evening, Jan’y 2. A sister read the following articles from THE; FLAMING SWORD of March 15, 1907: “The Lord’s Advent the Paramount Issue,” and “The Culmination of the Competitive Conflict.” Those who have these SWORDS would do well to read these articles, particularly the last one, which shows very plainly how the competitive system is going to wind up. The quartette sang “Adonai;” after the prayer, the meeting closed with the singing of “Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates.” This is a beautiful anthem, a great favorite of the Master’s, which has been sung for many years at the close of our meetings. We were pleased to receive a visit from Mr. Horace Edgar Bailey of Unadilla, N.Y., who is an old acquaintance of our Master; they were both veterans of the Civil War. A party of twenty-three had a picnic several days ago, for the purpose of getting shell to repair some of the walks in the Park. We went in a power boat to Big Hickory Island, on the Gulf of Mexico. The day was an ideal one; the pure ozone of the Gulf was exhilarating, and a more jolly crowd would be hard to find. Every one did his or her part; while some filled the sacks with shell, others busied themselves getting the dinner, and a sumptuous meal it certainly was. Fish and oysters, for which Lee County is so noted, were served, along with the other good things that had been prepared.

The Service on Sunday evening, Jan’y 9, was very impressive. A brother read “The Failure of Government and the Remedy,” from THE SWORD of Jan’y 1910. Had the article been written yesterday, it could not be more up- to-date. Such articles ought to convince the rankest skeptic, as to the divine prescience of KORESH, The last, which we give below, is wonderfully prophetic:
“The governments of the world, devoid as they are of every spark of the divine principle—love to the neighbor, will find their sepulchre in the valley of the decomposing carcass of a polluted and hypocritical church. But from their ruins, resurrected into the law of the economy of ever- lasting life, the new and living Firstborn shall arise, clothed upon with the Lord’s righteousness, bright and shining as the noon-day sun, kindled into the glowing heat of overwhelming love to God and man. Such is the change and such is the kingdom to succeed the crumbling ruins of the old church which, though now corrupt, had its inception in the very heart of God.”

The solo for the evening was “0 Flaming Sword,” the words of which were written by Sister Berthaldine, and the music by her late son, H. B. Boomer, at the dedication of the Guiding Star Publishing House, at Estero, in 1904. I feel that I am voicing the sentiments of the majority present, when I say it was good to have been at the Service. We are pleased to announce the return to our Home circle of Sister Elizabeth Robinson, who has been with relatives in New York City for several years. Sr. Elizabeth is one of the pioneers of the Koreshan movement, and we are all very glad to have her with us again.

  1. Interesting to note that even after 8 years, there was still a belief in Teed’s role as the New Messiah. []

Categories: Monthly Feature.

The End of 2013…

I wanted to slip this into the site before the end of 2013, only because it once again, gives us some insight into the everyday life inside the Unity. These two articles appeared in the Flaming Sword which would have described events that occurred in December 1926, and 1933 — 87 and 80 years respectively. As we approach the end of another year, it is always good to look back and get an idea of what life was like in the “Unity”. I also wanted to put this in the perspective of what was going on in the rest of the world. Economic conditions were fairly robust in 1926 and bleak in 1933. In November 1933, Franklin Roosevelt had been elected President. In January of 1933, the month this Community Current Events was published, Adolph Hitler came to power. Yet, life in the Unity went on as it had pretty much gone on for some time:

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THE UNITY was delighted with a few days’ visit from Mrs. Jeannie Miller of Hood River, Oregon. Mrs. Miller is one of the many loyal friends of the Koreshan Unity which dates back to the early days of the movement in Chicago. It is about eight years since Mrs. Miller was here last and since then she has been for a trip around the world and naturally had many interesting things to relate of her travels. She came direct to Florida from the Sesqui-Centennial, recently closed in Philadelphia; while she saw much to enjoy at the Sesqui, it didn’t begin to hold her interest, she says, like the Centennial Exposition held in the same city in 1876. Mrs. Miller is in Florida for the winter and is staying with her relatives, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Miller of Chicago and Fort Myers.

Messrs. Alfred and Robert Graham of Miami, Florida, pleasantly surprised us by appearing unannounced recently for a few days’ visit with the Unity. Since our last notes the writer, in company with Raymond Trebell, had the pleasure of visiting the Grahams at their home in Miami, and everything possible was done to make our short stay there a joyous one. Miami is a city of many charms, situated as it is on beautiful Biscayne Bay and the shores of the Atlantic. This city and surrounding territory caught the full brunt of the hurricane September last, and while it was tremendously hit, the recovery has been very remarkable. Motoring through Coral Gables, with its magnificent wide streets and beautiful homes, we saw very little to remind us of the hurricane; but continuing through Coconut Grove, an older residential section of Miami, we were made conscious of the ravages of the storm, not so much, however, to dwellings as to trees and shrubbery. We stopped en route to see some of the interesting sights, such as the remarkable Venetian bathing pool at Coral Gables, with its unusual rustic features of Nature in the form of coral rock fully preserved in the construction. The Biltmore Hotel at Coral Gables has in connection with it also a most remarkable swimming pool. This hotel is one of the most ornate structures in the country, built at a cost of ten million dollars; but space does not permit a recital of its many interesting features. The Bryan Memorial at Coconut Grove is also one of the attractions, and the effects of the storm were quite noticeable here. It will take more ” than one storm, however, to rob Miami of its well merited title, the Magic City. From West Palm Beach to Miami we had the pleasure of the company of Dr. Benedict Lust of New York City and Tangerine, Florida. Dr. Lust had but recently returned from a visit to his fatherland, where he received many honors for the great service he has rendered the cause of drugless healing and where naturopathy takes precedence over other systems of healing. He was happy to note for once the converse to be true that: ” A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house.” Dr. Lust came to America over thirty years ago from Germany with a direct commission from Father Kneipp to teach Americans the virtue of naturopathy. That he has succeeded in his mission is amply testified. by the thousands of naturopaths practicing in this country today, and we hope to see the day when he will be nationally acclaimed for the wonderful work he has accomplished in behalf of Buffering humanity.

Brother Henry Silverfriend has arranged with the caladium king, Dr. Nehrling of Naples, Florida, to dispose of his stock of caladium bulbs this season, so in the interest of this business, he and Laurence Bubbett called recently upon the leading nursery men between Fort Myers, Orlando, and St. Petersburg.

The Seaboard Air Line expects to run its first passenger train through Estero to Naples (its terminus) January 7, 1927. Pres. Warfield expects to bring with him a party of 350 notables and great preparations are being made in Fort Myers for their reception. To quote from The Palm Leaf: “Two hundred members of the party will board the special at New York when it leaves for the sunny South and Fort Myers on the evening of January 5, and 150 more guests will be picked up on the journey south. The celebration, with a mammoth motorcade, banquet, and gala events, is being sponsored by the Pageant Association in cooperation with all the civic clubs in the city. Fort Myers will appear at her best, arrayed in many colors, and neat as a new pin for the reception of her famous guests.”

Mr. August Naeselius of Brooklyn, N. Y ., is a guest of the Unity at the present writing. He came to visit his brother Theodore, who is a member of the Colony. Mr. Naeselius is so impressed with our wonderful climate that he will very likely make his future home in the sunny South.

Sister Cora Stephens, accompanied by her daughter Alafae, Irene Wyka, and Raymond Trebell, motored to Montverde, Florida, and back to Estero the same day, a journey of about 400 miles. Mace Stephens, who is attending. the Industrial School at Montverde, returned with his mother and will spend the holidays in Estero.

We deeply regret to record the passing out of our faithful Sister Susanna Ehrisman. She was eight years beyond the allotted three score and ten, and thirty-six of these she spent in loyal devotion to the Master and his Cause.

Flaming Sword 1933

   LLOYD GRAHAM motored from Miami to spend Thanksgiving day at the Unity. His mother, Sister Ella Graham, accompanied him on the return trip to Miami to remain over Christmas. Mrs. Jeannie Miller, who has resided in Fort Myers for some time to be under her physician’s care, has taken up her residence at the Unity again, being much improved in health. Mr. and Mrs. L. M. Boomer, little daughter and Mr. Ole Slatede, all of New York, arrived in Estero to spend some weeks at their River Bend estate. Mrs. Walter H. Thomas and her young son, Benjamin Brooks Thomas, arrived from Philadelphia to spend the winter at Mirasol Grove, the Boomer home. Mrs. Thomas is a daughter of Mrs. B. S. Boomer and sister of Miss Bertha Boomer. Laurence Bubbett left by car December 9, for Baltimore, Md., to visit the Rahn family there. He reported fine weather till he, reached Sumter, S. C., when he encountered winter in full blast. Sleet and snow covered the windshield and he was detained at Fayettsville, N. C., a day or two. Mr. and Mrs. Fred McConnell and son, Duane, Mrs. Lovelle Ahrano, and Will McCready, all of Tampa, were here recently for a Sunday visit with friends and relatives. Michael Rubin, Irwin Myers, Jack Martin, and Morris Kohl, of New York, visited here recently with a view to locating a vegetarian colony in this vicinity. They seemed to be favorably impressed with the climatic and other advantages of this section of Florida. Sisters Bella Armour and Alafae Stevens, Brothers John T. Watson, Alfred Christensen, and Will Fischer drove to LaBelle a few days ago, for a visit with the Newcomb family. Sister Florence Graham entertained several members and a few friends at a card party. Recent visitors and guests were: Mr. and Mrs. L. B. Pulcifer of Warwick, Mass., Emil Tessier of McDonald Heights, Pa., Henry and Floyd Moreland, of Alva, Mr. and Mrs. F. S. Lewis of Everglades, Dr. Myrtle Seller, Miss Lydia Pierce, Miss Meta Monsees, Miss Genevieve Bisbing, and Mr. Percy Bisbing, all of Fort Myers. A dinner which was attended by a number of Unity members was enjoyed at Mirasol Grove, the Boomer home, on Thanksgiving Day. Judging from weather reports received from cities to the north and west of us, we have been enjoy- ing ideal weather while the rest of the country was in the grip of a severe blizzard. The remarkable thing about this is that with the sun 93,000,000 miles away, as supposed in. modern astronomy, there can be such a great difference in temperature between two points separated only by a little over a thousand miles. The weather during the past month has given striking evidence of the absurdity of the contention that the sun is so many millions of miles away. Mrs. A. Camphausen’, Miss Elin Lindberg, Miss Inez Lindberg,-and Mrs. Edith Johnson enjoyed a fishing trip to the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay. We were pleased to have as guests for several days Dr. and Mrs. Edward R. von Maltzahn of New York City, who stopped here en route to Miami. Dr. von Maltzahn is a nephew of Baron von Maltzahn, former ambassador to the United States, and is a scion of a distinguished German family. Dr. and Mrs. von Maltzahn expressed deep interest in Koreshan Universology, both being of a decidedly scientific turn of mind. From all appearances, they were as charmed with their visit and the things they learned as we were delighted to have them with us, and to impart as much as possible concerning Koreshan teachings (in such a short time), especially the Cellular Cosmogony. Dr. and Mrs. von Maltzahn are touring Florida in what is literally ‘a touring palace. Attached to a Jordan roadster was a commodious aerocar, and attached to this was a motorcycle and side car; on top of the aerocar was a mahogony speed boat with out- board motor, the entire ensemble being painted the same color. The interior of the car was furnished in ultra-modern style with German-built furniture, a library, sleeping outfit, Bohemian glassware, a steam radiator, and other comforts and conveniences. The equipment represented an outlay of over fifteen thou- sand dollars. The von Maltzahns have toured a large part of the world, but prefer to spend their winters in Florida. Because of his deep interest in the Cellular Cosmogony Dr. von Maltzahn took a number of large- sized pictures of the model of the concave sphere, a section of the rectilineator with which the geodetic survey (which had established the .concavity of the earth) had been made, and of some other mechanical apparatus which we use in demonstrating the Cellular Cosmogony. Mrs. von Maltzahn, who was graduated from the University of Vienna with. a Ph. D., degree, is an authority on archaeology, having written many articles on this subject. She expressed the wish to translate the Cellular Cosmogony into the German language. The Unity membership and guests enjoyed a very pleasant Christmas day. An excellently prepared chicken dinner was served at noon and the many greetings and good wishes sent by friends were read during the course of the dinner. We feel deeply grateful to them as well as to the good friends who contributed fruit, nuts and other things to make the day one to be long and pleasantly remembered.

Categories: Posting.

December 2013

From the Koreshan Archives: — December 2013

   —  The monthly publication of the “Flaming Sword” included the column entitled Community Current Events. If you are a regular visitor here, you know that the “Community Current Events” gave a lot of insight into daily Koreshan living. Here is an excerpt from the December 1938 column, which was news for November 1938 — 75 years ago.

MR. JULIAN NALLY of Gotha, Florida, recently called at The American Eagle office when en route to Naples to visit the one-time tropical garden of the late Dr. Henry Nehrling, a great plant breeder and botanist. Mr. Nally, who now owns the old Nehrling homestead at Gotha, returned from Naples the following day and took home with him a number of plants from the Unity Nurseries. Brother Allen Andrews, editor of The American Eagle, is receiving requests to republish a series Dr. Nehrling’s articles, formerly published in The Eagle from 1922-29. Brother Moses Weaver, after several days visit with old friends in the Unity, left for his home in St. Petersburg, Florida: We were glad he could be with us during the Solar Festival. Charles Mealy, of Pineville, Kentucky, Son of Mrs. Alice Mealy Bubbett, and Dick Bubbett called on Unity friends, en route to Miami. Mr. Mealy spent some of his boyhood days in the Unity. Sister Emma Norton enjoyed a trip to Fort Myers with Mrs. L. E. Rugg, dining with Sister Lillian on the return trip. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lewis, of Everglades, spent Sunday, October 30 in Estero with friends and their sister, Mrs. Rose Gilbert. Early Monday morning their car refused to function, and Brother Allen Andrews motored Mr. Lewis home, arriving there shortly before 8 a. m., the time for commencing work. Mr . Lewis holds the responsible position of cashier and telegraph operator in the thriving, modern little city of Everglades.

At the Sunday evening services of November 13th, Sister Etta Silverfriend read, among other articles written by KORESH, a very interesting one entitled “The Great Martian Canal Trust,” which appears elsewhere in this issue of THE FLAMING SWORD. The Koreshan Unity Filling Station was visited by a midnight prowler on November 16th. Brother Samuel Armour, the manager who rooms in the building, was awakened by the noise and stepped out the front door to investigate in time to see a man jump the fence into the highway, dash for a car he had parked near and speed away. He had been trying to enter the building by a side window, tearing off the screening and cracking the window glass. Brother Arthur Moore and Roger Perry went to the woods November 17th, gathering and chopping wood to increase the fuel supply for the winter . The new power mowing machine, being successfully operated by Brother George Hunt, is proving to be worth its weight in gold by saving many hours of hand labor . Through Brother Daniel McNamara’s diligent labor in his gardens, we are now enjoying fresh vegetables, which are highly appreciated. We have also relished the fresh tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers and peppers brought to the Kitchen Department by Mr. R. L. McCoy and Albert Jacobs from the nearby large truck farms, these vegetables not being quite up to the shipping standard in size and shape, but delicious in flavor. We appreciated Sister Jennie Campbell’s assistance in the canning of the surplus tomatoes. Sunday, November 20th, Sisters Bertie Boomer, Vesta Newcomb, Bella Armour and Florence Graham were calling upon Mrs. Julia Horne and family who recently purchased proprty in Tice, near Fort Myers, where they may make their future home. We were pleased to have Sister Jennie Campbell, Sister Edith Trebell and Sister Lillian Rugg enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner with us for Sister Emily Bessemer had prepared a delicious repast. Mr. and Mrs. G. N. Boughman and son of Tampa, Florida, visited friends at the Unity November 24th. On November 28th all of our sisters enjoyed the delicious cake sent by parcel post by Sister Ida Fisher’s daughter, Mrs. Mildred Fisher Barager, of Seattle, Washington, to Sister Etta Silverfriend. This delectation was made by Mrs. Barager herself, who spent her younger years in the Unity.

The CCE mentioned that there was a reading of an article by Koresh called “The Great Martian Canal Trust”. It appeared in this 1938 issue of the flaming Sword. Mention was made of the CBS broadcast of “War of the Worlds” which had appeared on radio just about a month before this column. Here is what it said:

THE GREAT MARTIAN CANAL TRUST
“IS MARS INHABITED?”
‘ (From the Writings of KORESH)
[Publication of the following article by Koresh which first appeared in The Flaming Sword of Dec. 24th, 1897, is appropriate at this juncture, following the widespread farce recently created by the Columbia Broadcasting Co., in a sensational radio program in which it was represented that men from Mars in meteor-like airships had launched an attack on N. Y. City and several New Jersey towns, with great destruction of life and property. According to the Koreshan System, neither Mars nor any of the other planets are inhabited.—Editor's note.]

THIS second heading is the title of an article by Camille Flammarion, in the Humanitarian. For thirty years of Swedenborg’s life, he claimed to have been in communication with spirits and angels in the occult world. He visited, in the spirit, the spiritual or spirit inhabitants of all the planets, of the moon, and of five earths. He minutely describes the character of these spirit beings. He did not pretend to see any of these worlds as to their material aspects or phases, but merely their spiritual life. With regard to this claim of Swedenborg, we have only to admit the fact, for he saw precisely w^hat he declared was revealed to him through repeated experiences. Now, Camille Flammarion has been studying Mars for thirty years, and hypothetically ventures to advance some ideas about its inhabitants and their operations. He assures us of one thing, at which he guesses logically, namely, that the canal contractors there have discounted Mr- Boldenweck, who is supervising the drainage canal of Illinois, for some of the canals of Mars are four hundred miles in width, and correspondingly long. It is going to seem very funny to the great professor in the near future, when he comes to know from positive data that the Cellular Cosmogony compels altogether an-other interpretation of Martian phenomena. Mr. Flammarion says: “The observations recently made by Messrs. Fowell, Douglas, and Pickcring, in a lofty observatory expressly built for the study of the planet Mars, on the mountains of Arizona, in the United States, throw a new light on these difficulties. The canals which, since their discovery in 1877 by M. Schiaparelli, had been running from one sea to another and crossing bright continents, have recently been seen by means of more precise methods of observation, crossing also the dark spots called seas. These ‘seas’ arc traversed by dark lines and also by bright bands. Consequently, their nature is changed in our eyes, and they can no longer be regarded as expanses of water.”
Thus the “scientist” passes from one kaleidoscopic assumption to another, with the hazy rapidity of a tramping mental aberration,—and this is called science. Now, what are the facts? Swedenborg entered the spirit through trance conditions. He visited the spirits of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and others, right here where the spirit world is. Mercury people who die in Hi is the only world, form a group of Mercury spirits, and the same is true of Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and oilier planets. Mars is a disc floating between two of the lamina? that form the shell of this the only world. This disc is a reflector of the ultrapenetrable rays of electromagnetism. The rays arc broken or bent in the heavens, and we merely look at Mars under our feet, through the geologic strata, across the rivers of the earth and the greater rivers which form the great ocean currents. When the astronomer directs his telescope to Mars, he looks through a reflected ray, just as a man looks at himself in a. mirror, and through the ultrapenetrable rays he sees the Martian disc under his feet. The time will come when through the microtelescope Hie inhabitants of the Moon can be observed. When this is done, tlie great scientist will merely be looking at himself through rays reflected in the heavens, and when he realizes the truth, he will exclaim, How wise the prophet who said, God spreadeth out the heavens like a molten looking glass, and how much more he knew7 than we, after all our fuss about nothing. We wait to laugh at their calamity, and hold them in derision.

We hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and that you have a very Blessed and Merry Christmas!!

Categories: Monthly Feature.

November 2013

Please Note: The Archives database has been updated as of October 28, 2013. There are a more scanned images as well as additions to the database itself. Click on the link in the right column to view. Look under “Inside Links“.


Peter Bender Material digitized.

In 2005 a local Fort Myers woman donated a few boxes of material that belonged to a man named Harry W. Manley. His original name was Harry William Mahneke. He changed his name to Manley in 1920. He became a Koreshan believer, but as far as we know, never actually lived within the confines of the Unity, but rather, he lived on the Boomer property and eventually in Fort Myers proper.

Manley appears to have pushed the Unity toward reconciliation with Victoria, as did some others. In addition, he was active in introducing Hedwig Michel to the Unity and he attempted to convince German authorities to allow Peter Bender to come to the United States (which never happened). Bender died in an Austrian Concentration Camp.

This collection (AM-0179) consists of a number of various folders, each with a particular theme or correspondent. For example, as already mentioned, Manley had a number of letters from and to Victoria Gratia (Annie Ordway). They were not written by him or to him, so in many cases, their provenance is unknown. There are other allied records pertaining to Manley and to other correspondents of his. There are also some translated documents in this section from a group in Germany who did some extensive research on Peter Bender.

It should be pointed out that Bender as well as Manley had some different ideas. These included what some called Free Love, but we would probably refer to it not so much as that, but ideas on a more spiritual realm. In all honesty, their views are not completely clear. The H.W. Manley Collection is found, for the most part, in the Archives module, in AM-0179 (see above), AM-0180, AM-0181, AM-0186 and AM-0188. All of these records shed new light on the disagreements among Koreshans after the death of Dr. Teed as well as other ideas about life etc.



Check out upcoming events at the Park in the lower right column, or go there directly and see what’s happening as the “Season” gets underway once again.

Finally, it is worth noting that the construction on US-41 through Estero is finallycompleted after nearly 3 years of work.

Categories: Monthly Feature.

October 2013

Please Note: The Archives database has been updated as of October 28, 2013. There are a more scanned images as well as additions to the database itself. Click on the link in the right column to view. Look under “Inside Links“.


From the Koreshan Archives: — October 2013

   —  October brings us the busiest month of the year with regard to the Koreshan story. The premier event is, of course, the birthday of Cyrus Teed, a.k.a. Koresh who was born in Delaware County New York on October 18, 1839. We usually feature the same thing each year in order to introduce anyone new to this site, the Koreshans and the Unity, to the life of Dr. Teed. With that in mind, we want to, once again, feature the work of former Ranger, Peter Hicks, who’s biography of Dr. Teed appears on this web site. In addition, however, we want to also feature another biography of Dr. Teed written by life long Koreshan Claude Rahn. The idea is to compare and contrast a scholarly look to a biography written by one who was a follower of Teed. Certainly the latter is filled with what we now know are either half-truths or untruths. Once again, the idea is not to criticize, but to understand how Teed’s followers took scripture and tradition to make Teed into something he was not.

First, the Hicks biography:

Cyrus Read Teed was born on October 18, 1839 near Trout Creek, Delaware County, New York. He was the second son born into a family of eight children. As early as 1637, Teeds had lived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. By 1757, they had migrated to Tompkins township in Delaware County, New York, settling near Trout Creek in an area that was known as Teedsville, fifteen miles from Walton. His father, Jesse Sears Teed, was born there on June 24, 1814 and died at the Koreshan Unity home in Chicago, Illinois on March 9, 1899. On his mother’s side, he was directly descended from John Read who came to America in 1630, settling in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. His great grandmother Lydia married the Reverend Oliver Tuttle of Bristol, Connecticut. His mother, Sarah Ann Tuttle was born on October 27, 1815 in Bristol, Connecticut and died at Moravia, New York, October 25, 1885. Shortly after Cyrus was born, the family moved to New Hartford, New York on the land of grandfather Oliver Tuttle. At the age of eleven, Cyrus quit school and went to work on the tow path of the Eire Canal. His family wanted him to become a Baptist minister like his grandfather Tuttle, but Cyrus chose to follow another relative and began studying medicine with his uncle, Dr. Samuel F. Teed ( a twenty-five year old allopathic physician) in Utica, New York. At this same time on April 13, 1859, he married his second cousin, Fidelia M. Rowe of Merideth, New York. Delia was the daughter of William and Polly Maria Tuttle Rowe.

Then we have the Rahn biography:

Sometime prior to the year 1637 two Teed brothers had arrived in the Massachusetts Bay colony from England. Numerous pioneers of this period began to move on and settled on the east end of Long Island, New York, where John Teed married Mary —–, and ….. died at Huntington in 1683. Here also Samuel Teed married Hannah —–, and died in 1719.
From there members of this family moved on westward to upper and western parts of New York State. After crossing the Hudson river their intreped search through the wilderness for a home site, passing over what is now known as Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties until they finally reached Delaware county, N.Y. Here in the township of Tompkins they rested and built their cabins sometime prior to the Revolution (ca. 1757) in which several served. They settled around Trout Creek which later became known as Teed’s settlement or Teedsvil1e which is about fifteen miles from Walton.

Here lived Samuel Teed whow tradition records was a soldier of the Revolution. He married Mary Reneaux, and they had the following children: Samuel F., Stephen Root, Jesse Sears, and a daughter Mary who married a Mr. Jackson. Stephen Root Teed eventually moved to Lake Mills, Wisconsin. After the death of his wife Mary in 1826, at the age of 32 years, Samuel Teed married the second time Harriet —–, and from this later union there was born Harvey Teed, who was lost track of when he moved to the west.

Jesse Sears Teed was born June 24, 1814, and died in the community home of the Koreshan Unity in Chicago, Ill., March 9,1899. When Jesse S. Teed grew to manhood he married April 24, 1836, Sarah Ann Tuttle, who was born in Bristol, Conn., October 27, 1815, a daughter of the Rev Oliver Tuttle, a Baptist minister. She died October 25, 1885, in the community home that was the first established by Koresh on Grove Street in Moravia, New York, and was buried in the local Indian Mound cemetery.

Jesse end Sarah Ann Teed after their marriage lived on the road to Masonville about three miles from Trout Creek, and about equally distant from Masonvi11e. Here was born on October 18, 1839,their second son whom they named Cyrus Read Teed, while Jesse was at that time engaged in farming and the operation of a grist mill. There were other children, namely, George, Wilson, Charles, Oliver, Malora, who was born in Masonville, N. Y., April 7, 1845, and married a Mr. Wakeman, Zanetta who never married, and Emma born in Utica, January 8, 1857, and died January 12, 1950, in Estero, Florida. She married Albert E. Norton who later subsequently engaged in Business in Sidney Plains, N.Y. in the 80′s, the proprietor of a small foundry and machine shop. Samuel F. Teed, brother of Jesse, studied medicine and married a sister of the wife of Jesse named Mary Tuttle. He settled in Utica, N.Y., and engaged in the medical profession. The family of the Teeds were of the Baptist faith.

Dr. Cyrus R. Teed was directly descended through his mother from John Read who came to America in 1630, and settled in Rehoboth, Mass. Josiah Read, probably the eldest son of the latter, was among the early settlers in Connecticut, for in the vicinity of New London it is recorded he was living in 1652. He had two sons, John and Josiah. Josiah Read married Grace Holloway of Marshfield, Mass., in November, 1666, and settled in Norwich, Conn., and died there, July 3, 1717. They had eight children, among whom was Joseph, born March 12, 1681, who married Mary Guppie, Aug. 25, 1708. They had seven children, among whom was Joseph, born May 23, 1709, who married Thankful Andrews, September 16, 1740.

Joseph Read and Thankful (nee Andrews) Read had seven children, among whom was Amos, born, April 25 1758, who married Mary Bennett of Scituate Mass., July 1778, and settled in Lisbon Conn. Amos was a clergyman and died November 2, 1838. They had eleven children, namely, Daniel, Caleb, Levi, Walter, Joseph, James, Amos, Sala, Asher, Thomas and Lydia who was born July 27, 1790.

Lydia married the Rev. Oliver Tuttle and lived in Bristol, Conn. To them were born seven childr6n of whom three were daughters. Sarah Ann, born October 27, 1815, died at Moravia, N. Y., October 25, 1885 and buried there, and Mary and Emyline Tuttle. When Sarah was about twelve years of age her father, Rev. Tuttle with his family moved to New York state and settled in a home Between Utica end New Hartford. Eventually Sarah Ann married Jesse S. Teed, and Mary married his brother, Samuel F. Teed, while Emyline married Almon Baldwin. (from the “History of the Reed Family” by J.W. Reed, published by J. Wilson & Sons, Boston, in 1861)

Mr. Baldwin and his wife Emy1ine had two sons, Myron and Dr. Cyrus S. Ella (Baldwin) Graham and Elmer Baldwin were children of Dr. Cyrus S. Baldwin. The former was a member of the Koreshan Unity until her death in April 21, 1945. She married Alfred W. Graham, and their children were Bertha who married Victor Phillips, Florence, Robert and Lloyd.

It may be of interest here to record the fact that Joseph Smith, the Mormon founder was of the same ancestral stock as Dr. Cyrus R. Teed. Smith married Emma Hale a cousin of Jesse S. Teed the father of Dr. Cyrus R. Teed.

Jesse S. Teed was quite versatile, of an inventive trend of mind, and the patentee of several devices of practical utility, such as “Teed’s Turbine Water Wheel”, patented in 1871 while he was living in Moravia, N. Y. He also acquired some reputation as a physician to the sick, and during an epidemic of what was known in that day as “Black Tongue” his cures spread his fame for miles around. His brother Samuel F. Teed who contracted consumption in his youth was permanently cured by the care and attention given him by Jesse. During the early boyhood of Cyrus R. Teed his father Jesse moved with his family to the vicinity of his wife’s people, the Tuttles, between Utica and New Hartford. Here his sister, Emma (Norton) was born January 8, 1857.

Cyrus’ attendance at school ended when he was about eleven years of age, and from then on he was engaged in various occupations common to the youth of the countryside, among which was employment on the Erie Canal. In those days the Erie Canal was an important factor in the commercial life of the state, and afforded the youthful Cyrus opportunity to broaden his knowledge of men and their ways. As he grew odder and began to see about him the extent of the suffering and misery that mortals were heir to, of the sordid lives some lived, and the ruthless greed and selfishness that our Christian civilization had evolved with its fierce competitive struggle for existence, he pondered whether this was the all, the best that man could hope to achieve, or whether God in his omnipotence did not intend something better for mankind, to be obtained by ways then obviously unknown, yet within the possibility of reach were the method discovered or disclosed. He long and seriously reflected these thoughts, how to remedy or help in the alleviation of human suffering and the improvement of existing conditions.

Being of a highly idealistic nature, with keen percept1ves and rational faculties, he early decided that he could be of the greatest good to his fellowmen as a physician to the sick than in any other capacity. With this conviction uppermost in his thoughts he began to lay plans accordingly, and in 1859 his desires were realized when he began the study of medicine in the office of his uncle, Dr. Samuel F. Teed in Utica, N.Y. The year previous (1858) he married Fidelia Rowe of Merideth N.Y., and to them was born on February 21, 1860 in Utica a son whom they named Douglas Arthur Teed. This son in later years attained the distinction as an accomplished artist and portrait painter.
Douglas A. Teed died May 23, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan.

In 1862 Cyrus R. Teed with his family moved to New York City with the intention of completing his medical education, and for a time lived in Brooklyn, the Civil War then raging prompted him to volunteer his services in New York City as a private in the 27th Regiment, New York Volunteers, U. S. Army. There his medical knowledge and experience
became known to his superior officers and he was transferred to field hospital service, and attached to the staff of Col. Gurnsey and later to that of Lieut. Col. Stewart L. Woodford as assistant physician and surgeon. During his service in the army of about one and half years his wife and infant son lived with her parents residing in Meredith,
Delaware county, N. Y. After his release from the army he undertook the completion of his medical studies at the New York Eclectic Medical College, from which he was graduated in the winter of 1868. Then he immediately began the practice of medicine in Utica, N. Y.

His success as physician was immediate, but there was something lacking; his daily ministrations to the sick failed to satisfy that innate longing to be of greater and more effective help in the alleviation of human misery, and the wretched economic conditions of life that everywhere appeared so desperate and hopeless. He felt there surely must be some way to remedy these ever-present and persistent evils, and he applied himself assiduously to intensive mental application in the study of the problem.

In his biological investigations with their wide ramifications he was led to believe that possibly in the field of physics he might discover therein fundamental knowledge of inorganic substance that would in itself, when once understood, furnish the key to the unlocking of the secrets of organic life. Thus while living in Deerfield, near (now a part of) Utica, during the winter of 1869 and 1870, engaged in the practice of his profession, and deeply absorbed in ·various electro-magnetic experiments in which he had engaged for several years he made tho important discovery of the central law of existence that was operative in organic and inorganic substance, the law of the transmutation of same or alchemy.

In the cognition of this great law of transmutation and its operation, which many past generations had sought in vain to fathom, he was convinced that if the knowledge he had gained in the field of physics were applied to that of biology, its mysteries, too, would readily yield themselves to the inquiring mind. In deep contemplation of the vast field of knowledge that now lay spread before the threshold of his brilliant and analytical,mind, he was mentally illuminated from the interior celestial spheres and his messianic destiny and future service to mankind revealed. The arcana of divine wisdom and love has conjoined through a mental conjunctive with his, the central personality of the age; an ever re-current event through the spirals of eternity.. The duration of the period that he was receptive to this divine illumination covered several weeks.

His illumination was attended by numerous supernatural incidents, all contributing to the confirmation of his messianic destiny, but space does not permit their inclusion here, except for one singular event that occurred at the time he was under the influence of the divine afflatus, which we record as follows, although it will be obviously beyond the possibility of acceptance by the hopelessly materialistic mind of the average man of today. Dr Teed was impulsed to visit his cousin, Myron Baldwin living nearby, between whom there was a strong bond of attachment and understanding. As he entered a building where Myron was employed on construction work the latter went forward to meet him, intuitively aware of his coming, and he beheld him surrounded by a brilliant halo of supernal light. At once he became cognizant of his messianic investiture, and then and there he was prompted to bestow a blessing upon Cyrus after the manner of John the Baptist’s blessing of Christ. It was late in the day and both proceeded to Myron’s home, where the latter’s wife during the afternoon had experienced a deep feeling of spiritual upliftment, and had clairvoyant perceived poised on the wall brackets, frequently used in that day to display bric-a-brac, two cherubim or angels. She marveled much at this strange phenomenon and the intensity of supreme exaltation that pervaded her entire being; and thus while looking for the return of Myron she beheld him and Cyrus approaching the house surrounded by a brilliant halo of light.

Following Cyrus’ illumination he naturally felt the insistent urge and necessity of disseminating to the world the marvelous revelations that had been revealed to him, but there were few able to understand and accept his doctrines and confess his messianic mission. Hence, because of his strange and radical doctrines he gradually began to suffer the loss of his medical practice in Utica, and he was severely criticized and persecuted as a fanatic and one bordering on insanity. In consequence of which there were occasions when he was in great need of the barest necessities of life. Yet he persisted in his determination to deliver his great truths to en unresponsive world, and possessing vast intellectual power and unusual oratorical ability he finally began to make headway amid the gloom and ignorance that enveloped his fellowmen after years of effort and disappointment. He was the single light brilliantly shining in the night of human woe, yet mankind shackled to fallacies that had increased with the passing of the centuries pursued their delusions through the deep darkness and perceived it not.

[Excerpted from "A Brief Outline of the Life of Dr. Cyrus R. Teed (Koresh) and the Koreshan Unity" by Brother Claude (Claude Rahn), pp 15-23, BK-0003]

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September 2013

One of the purposes of this website is to look closer at the lives, beliefs and practices of the Koreshans. In the two decades that I have been here, I’ve found a lot of misconceptions and historical fallacies. One of the things I’ve found about the Koreshans is that they sometimes (and Cyrus Teed in particular) tended to overrate themselves. Let me be clear in saying that I am not intending to be overly critical. The Koreshans did, in fact, bring a great deal of culture and learning to southwest Florida. Their beliefs were very well “worked out”. But in attempting to convince others of the truth of their beliefs and the strong character of their leader, they sometimes resorted to false claims and (in the case of Dr. Teed), in my opinion, even “made up” words. With all that in mind here is a piece from the “American Eagle”, written in 1973 by Hedwig Michel. She began a series called “The Koreshan Unity Settlement” which was intended to be a kind of history of the movement with most of it taken from original writings. Part One, which was published in the June 1973 edition of the “American Eagle” was a piece written by Laurence (Laurie) Bubbett. It began with an introduction written by Hedwig Michel.

Established in Chicago with groups who joined from New York State and California the Koreshan Unity moved to Florida in 1893-94. They established numerous stations on Florida’s Gulf Coast, stretching from James City west to the south of Naples, at Gordons Pass, with main headquarters at Estero Island and the mainland of Estero. Mound Key, Big and Little Hickory Island served as farming, fishing and hunting areas. Sawmills in Estero and on Estero Island activated their industrial boat and house building projects. The Guiding Star Publishing House remained, as in Chicago, the center of their communal work. Once. established more industries were added, the tropical nursery, a mechanical workshop, laundry, bakeshop, cannery, hat and dress making, sculpture, music and the arts were practiced. A general store and post office were of benefit to the community.

A New Jersey corporation with the certificate to do business in Florida the Koreshans were taxpayers for more than seventy years in Florida, never having received any financial support other than from their members and friends of their religious fraternal commonwealth. Their modest way of living was made possible through their devotion to the cause their leader, Dr. Cyrus Read Teed — KORESH — taught: “In The Name Of Humanity” they were building for future generations.

The following biographical sketch was written by one of the staunch believers in Koreshan Universology. Laurence Bubbett, raised and trained in the Estero Pioneer University, for many years editor of the religious weekly, The Flaming Sword, and leader in the movement, was the son of the incorporators James and Evelyn Bubbett. He knew Koresh from earliest childhood. He carried the Koreshan work through critical years into the recognition of the pioneers’ endurance.

KORESH and his followers built their own monument which now is named as The Koreshan Unity Settlement among the Significant Sites and Properties in the Florida Bicentennial Trail.

Like the Koreshans before her Hedwig seemed to be saying that Estero was the center of the earth, and of course for the Koreshans, it was. The so-called “Pioneer University” was simply the schooling that members received from other members of the Unity. This is not to say that these teachings were elemetary. One look at the Koreshan Library of books shows that the Koresahns were very learned and I’m sure that the knowledge they taught was, in many cases, very academic.

Here is the article written by Laurie Bubbett

[Excerpt from The American Eagle - Vol.53 No.98 June 1973]

By Laurence W. Bubbett
President of the Koreshan Unity (1948-1960) and aide to the Koreshan Geodetic Staff that projected a mechanical straight line beside the water’s surface of the Gulf of Mexico at Naples, Fla., in 1897.

Cyrus Read Teed was born on October 18, 1839, near Trout Creek in a small settlement called Teedsville, in Tompkins township, Delaware County, N.Y. He was the second son of eight children of Jesse and Sarah Ann Tuttle Teed. His father, Jesse Teed, was a successful country doctor.((1))

Cyrus R. Teed was descended through his mother from a John Read, who came to America from England in 1630 and settled in Rehoboth, Mass. At the age of eleven Cyrus quit school to help provide for the fast growing family. His parents were of the Baptist faith, and as Cyrus grew older his friends urged him to study for the ministry because of his natural oratorical ability. But Cyrus decided to become a physician and in 1859 commenced the study of medicine with his uncle, Dr. Samuel F. Teed, in Utica, N.Y. In 1858 Cyrus Teed married Miss Fidelia Rowe of Meredith, N.Y., to which union one son was born, Douglas Arthur Teed, who later attained distinction as an artist and portrait painter, in 1862 Cyrus moved with his family to New York City to complete his medical education, but as the Civil War was raging at that, time Cyrus, instead of continuing his medical studies, joined the Union Army, volunteering as a private. Because of his medical knowledge he was assigned to field hospital service and later became attached to the staff of a Gen. Woodford as assistant physician and surgeon.((2)) At the close of the war,((3)) he resumed the study of medicine at New York Eclectic Medical College. He graduated in 1868 and commenced practice in Utica, N.Y.

Being of a deeply religious, philanthropic and investigative turn of mind Dr. Teed sought wider means of alleviating the ills of humanity than mere medical science could afford and so consecrated his life to that end. His intense research in the realm of metaphysics resulted in a spiritual awakening or divine “illumumination” as he termed it, in the autumn of 1869. This “illumination” was the revelation of the mysteries of life and death, of the form and character of the universe of the relation of man to God and man’s ultimate destiny in God. It was the revelation of universal knowledge. Like all prophets and seers, however, Dr. Teed found few who were immediately receptive to his strange and revolutionary teachings, although they were based on the Bible, which he declared was written in the language of symbolism, and he held Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and his standard. Therefore his zeal in putting forth his doctrine resulted in antagonism which was detrimental to his medical practice almost wherever he went.

In September 1886 Dr. Teed was invited to address a convention of the National Association of Mental Science in Chicago, Ill. At this convention he made such a deep impression by his eloquence and magnetic personality that he was subsequently elected to the presidency of the Association. This favorable reception in Chicago induced Dr. Teed to settle there, and in October 1886 he incorporated “The College of life” under the Saws of the State of Illinois.

In December 1886 Dr. Teed published the first issue of a monthly periodical called “The Guiding Star,” which was devoted to presenting his doctrine to the world — the attainment of immortality in the flesh. “The Guiding Star” was con-tinued until May 1889. This was followed by another magazine entitled “The Flaming Sword,” the first issue of which appeared November 30, 1889. This latter publication was continued until fire destroyed the Community’s printing plant at Estero, Florida, in February 1949.

In September 1888 Dr. Teed founded in Chicago, at 2 and 4 College Place and Cottage Grove Avenue, the institution that became known as the Koreshan Unity, a home for followers who accepted his doctrine. Here was practiced a form of communal life based upon that of the early Christians. In 1894 a branch of the Community was established at Estero, Florida, to where the entire Chicago group was moved in 1903. [Credit is due C. J. Rahn, whose compilation of biographical data was drawn upon.]

  1. There is no evidence that Jesse Teed ws ever a country doctor. At one time he did run his own company, the “Teed Water Works” []
  2. Although Teed was attached to Brigade Headquarters, there is no record of him acting as a physician and/or surgeon, nor as an assistant. He remained an enlisted man – see Civil War Records []
  3. Teed was actually discharged on 16 October 1863. He served about 14 months. The war did no end until May 1865. []

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August 2013

This month we take a little closer look at Douglas Arthur Teed, the only son of Dr. Cyrus Teed (Koresh). Here is part of the article from Wikipedia

Douglas Arthur Teed was born on February 21, 1860 to Fidelia M. Rowe and Cyrus R. Teed, in New Hartford, New York. At age nine, his father left the family to develop a religious sect called ‘Koreshanity’ after experiencing what he claimed was a divine vision.

… There was an awakening in the Teed household hinging on dogmatic opinions, mysticism, and the exotic. The family did not buy into the new lifestyle, however, and eventually the family lost Cyrus to the religious fervor which consumed him. Dr. Teed persisted in his beliefs, neglecting his duties at home, and eventually settled a communal colony called ‘The Koreshan Unity’. He later incorporated the colony as Estero, FL.

The American Eagle of August 1973 reports that letters from Cyrus Teed indicated affection for his wife and child, and in spite of criticism, Delia accepted him as the messianic personality of the age. However, Douglas and his mother never converted. Due to ill health, she and Douglas moved in with her sister in Binghamton, New York. They remained there until Delia’s death in 1885.

The reference to the American Eagle refers to Claude Rahn’s “A Brief Outline of the Life of Cyrus R. Teed”, however, this biography is, to put it kindly, propoganda.((1)) So, it is unclear whether or not Teed remained in contact with his wife and son.

However, there was contact at some point Douglas Arthur eventually visited his father in Estero, but even that part of his relationship with his father isn’t totally clear. This excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Douglas Arthur tells of his reunion, of sorts, with Cyrus.

Douglas did seek out his father later in life. In 1905, he visited the Koreshan Unity. An article in the Fort Myers Press expressed gratitude of southern Florida receiving such a distinguished painter, and suggested the possibility of Teed remaining in Florida to paint. There are numerous accounts in the communal paper espousing the talents of the artist son of Koresh. A special hall was built to house 27 of his works, which Teed painted especially for the commune. The people of the Unity were flattered by Teed’s interpretation of Estero, and the uncharted surrounding Florida land. Many of these works were painted in an egg-tempera and have faded quite badly. Only a few oil paintings retain the artist’s original intent.

One such painting, “Tropical Dawn”, was presented to a member of the Unity, Victoria Gratia, at her birthday celebration in April 1905.

It seemed the relationship between father and son was a healthy one. Douglas even dedicated a poem to his father for his birthday (known to the Unity as “The Solar Festival”) on October 18, 1905, entitled, The Lost Muse. However, in 1907 Douglas sued the Koreshan Unity for overdue payment, citing the paintings which hung in the Art Hall. In 1908, a full settlement was made out of court between Douglas and the Unity. That same year his father died.

In a letter to Cyrus, dated May 10, 1907, Douglas Arthur wrote from Winter Park:((2))

Dear Father,
I have read your letter of May 5th and though its general tone does not differ materially from that of some thirty and odd others of yours on file in my desk, dating as far back as February 25, 1899, it still contains matter of interest.

This letter dealt with the fact that Cyrus was apparently paying for Douglas Arthur’s groceries, which were being supplied by “Heitman’s grocery, in Fort Myers. It seems that Cyrus made light of Douglas Arthur’s complaints to Heitman’s, and so Douglas Arthur fires back by quoting a letter that Cyrus sent him on February 23, 1900, which Douglas Arthur quotes:

My Dear Arthur,
I have now some mines (gold and copper) exclusivley in my possession and absolutely under my control destined to change the official status of the Bureau of Equitable Commerce – They are estimated to exceed seven millions in value. It has afforded me great pleasure to be able to donate to your interests from this source and I have accordingly registered two claims (For Douglas Arthur AND his wife??) at the County Clerk’s Office in Jeff. Co. Col. (Jefferson County Colorado) in your name. From expert estimates these two claims can be safely rated at $25,000.

So, can we call this an early version of spam? Why would Cyrus Teed want to make his own son think that he had such an investment?

By the beginning of May 1907 the suit was settled and Douglas Arthur apparently agreed to a settlement of cash.((3)) In another letter, dated October 31st 1908, Douglas Arthur has just returned to Winter Park and he writes to Cyrus telling him that he was sorry to hear that Cyrus was ill, but he goes on to say in the letter that he is expecting to receive more of the agreed settlement.

It is unclear what happened after Cyrus died in December 1908. It is doubtful that Douglas Arthur ever came this way again.

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Last month we featured what we called “Oddities” – The fact that there are a lot of interesting things to look at inside the Historic Site Settlement. Some things appear to be a little “odd” Here’s another one of them: (Click on the image for a larger view)

This tree, located near the Art Hall has a strange kind of alien look, as though it is walking forward, preparing to reach out to grab you.

This tree, located near the Art Hall has a strange kind of alien look, as though it is walking forward, preparing to reach out to grab you.

  1. For example, Rahn states while talking about Teed’s visit to his cousin, Myron Baldwin: “Dr Teed was impulsed to visit his cousin, Myron Baldwin living nearby, between whom there was a strong bond of attachment and understanding. As he entered a building where Myron was employed on construction work the latter went forward to meet him, intuitively aware of his com1ng and he beheld him surrounded by a brilliant halo of supernatural light. At once he became cognizant of his messianic investure, and then and there he was prompted to bestow a blessing upon Cyrus after the manner of John the Baptist’s blessing of Christ. [Rahn, p.21-22] []
  2. This letter is part of a collection located in the FGCU Archives. We obtained a photocopy. []
  3. $500 by July 1, 1907, $500 by September 1, 1907, $835 by January 1, 1908 and $665 by March 1, 1908. Douglas Arthur also offered to accept “…the baby grand piano I saw at your place.” which obviously was not accepted since it remains in the Art Hall to this day. []

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