Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Koreshan Unity Settlement

Strange, very strange. Most of the people here in Florida come from somewhere else and we all have a story - but the story of the Koreshan Settlement is stranger than most. Cyrus Teed moved his followers from cold, windy Chicago to hot, humid Estero (just south of Fort Myers) in 1894 to build New Jerusalem for his new faith, Koreshanity. The group believed that the entire universe existed within a giant, hollow sphere. Teed convinced them that he was the new Messiah and would never die. The business of the settlement was governed entirely by women .

As I see it, two things lead to the downfall of the commune: one, they were celibate; and, two: Teed died. The last of his followers left all of the structures and what remained of the property to the state. One of the original members is quoted as saying she realized Teed's doctrine was wrong when "those boys landed on the moon." This place is a strong statement to the religious freedom we have here in the U.S.

Johnny, forever a student, read the literature provided by the Koreshan Unity Alliance, Inc. and the College of Life Foundation before we began our tour. Since the site is owned by the state and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, I found church and state just a little too close for my liking.

The machine shop.

One of the houses on the property and Johnny, looking less than impressed.

Another home.

The best part of the park was the nature trail along the Estero River. The commune was interesting and I'm glad we went to visit - once.


Anonymous said...

I am a "regular" at the park, and your assumption about Church-State is a common mistake.

The Koreshans are honored here, NOT for their beliefs, but because of the fact that they were true pioneers in this area, bringing culture to the "wilds" of South Florida.

Thanks for the nice blog...

Gail Baker said...

Dear Anonymous,
While I was uncomfortable with the closeness of church and state, I was impressed with the Koreshans' stamina, values and dedication to education, culture and equality of the sexes. Thanks for visiting and I hope you will return again.