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Cyrus Reed Teed (October 18, 1839 - December 22, 1908, erroneously Cyrus Tweed) was a U.S. eclectic physician and alchemist turned religious leader and messiah. In 1869, claiming divine inspiration, Dr. Teed took on the name Koresh and proposed a new set of scientific and religious ideas he called Koreshanity, including a unique Hollow Earth theory that posits the Earth and sky exist inside the inner surface of a sphere. In the 1870s, he founded in New York the Koreshan Unity, a commune based around his teachings that moved in 1894 to the small Florida town of Estero. After a peak at 250 residents in 1903–1908, the group went into decline after his death and disappeared in 1961, leaving the Koreshan State Historic Site behind.
As a young eclectic physician, Teed was always interested in unconventional experiments, such as alchemy, often involving dangerously high levels of electricity. In the autumn of 1869, during an experiment he was badly shocked, and passed out. During his period of unconsciousness, Teed believed he was visited by a divine spirit who told him that he was the messiah. Inspired, once he awoke Teed vowed to apply his scientific knowledge to "redeem humanity." He promptly changed his first name to "Koresh," the Hebrew word for Cyrus.
He denounced the idea that the Earth revolved around the sun and instead pioneered his own theory of the Universe, known as the Cellular Cosmogony. According to this theory, human beings live on the inside of the planet, not the outside. The sun is a giant battery-operated contraption, and the stars mere refractions of its light.
Teed's ideas, called Koreshanity, caught on with others. Koreshanity preached cellular cosmogony, alchemy, reincarnation, immortality, celibacy, communism, and a few other radical ideas. Teed started preaching Koreshanity in the 1870s in New York, forming the Koreshan Unity, later moving to Chicago. Teed's followers formed a commune in Chicago in 1888. Some followers also formed a short-lived community in San Francisco (1891-2). Small church groups existed in other towns.
Eventually, Teed took his followers to a small Florida town named Estero, to form his "New Jerusalem" in 1894. The 'golden age' for this community was 1903-1908, when they had over 250 residents and incorporated Estero. They built extensively, establishing a bakery, printing house (publishing their newspaper and other publications), their "World College of Life", a general store, concrete works, power plant (that supplied power to the surrounding area years before it was available elsewhere in the region) and more. The colony was extensively landscaped with exotic tropical plantings. They tried to run several candidates for county government against the local Democratic Party, but were never successful. Teed was involved in an altercation between Fort Myers men and members of the Unity. He was severely pistol whipped by Marshal Sanchez, suffering injuries from which he never recovered, dying two years later in 1908. His followers initially expected his resurrection, after which he and his faithful would be taken up to heaven as he had predicted in his book The Immortal Manhood. They kept a constant vigil over his body for two days, after which time it began to show signs of decay. Following Christmas the county health officer stepped in to order his burial. After his death the group went into decline.
In 1910, a hurricane destroyed his tomb on the southern end of Estero island and washed his coffin out to sea.
The last remaining follower, Hedwig Michel, deeded the colony to the State of Florida in 1961. It is now the Koreshan State Historic Site.
- Gardner, Martin. Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, p. 26
- "Cyrus Read Teed (1839 - 1908) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. 2010-02-14. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- Kossy, Donna. "Dr. Cyrus Teed" in Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief, Los Angeles: Feral House, 2001 (2nd ed. exp. from 1994), ISBN 978-0-922915-67-5
- Gardner, Martin. "Flat and Hollow", pp. 22-27 in Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, Dover Publications Inc., New York, 1957 (2nd ed.), ISBN 0-486-20394-8
- Koresh (1902), The Immortal Manhood: The Laws and Processes of Its Attainment in the Flesh
- Koresh; Morrow, Ulysses G. (1898), The Cellular Cosmogony; Or, The Earth a Concave Sphere
- Koreshan State Historic Site, official web page.
- Unofficial Koreshan State Historic Site, unofficial web page.
- American Communal Utopias and The Koreshan Unity: A Bibliography Brief overview and great bibliography of works, if slightly dated.
- Turning the Universe Inside-Out: Ulysses Grant Morrow's Naples Experiment Examination of the Naples Experiment, and why it failed.
- The Startling Testimony of Plumb-Lines Earlier experiments of Ulysses Grant Morrow
- Catherine A. Anthony Ohnemus- Dr. Cyrus Teed and the Koreshan Unity Movement
- Biography of Cyrus Reed Teed