In 1965 I rented a 50 CC motorcycle and drove past this place on a 12 hour trip at 30 MPH from Tampa to Miami to see Mrs. Phred (Miss Phred at the time). I vaguely remember seeing the Koreshian General Store and thinking “cult”. At one time it was the only stop on the Tamiami Trail (US 41) on the 60 mile stretch from Fort Myers to Naples. The road is six lanes now with lots of stops.
The Koreshian State park is typical Florida palmetto scrub. They rent canoes here. The brackish river leads though mangroves out to “Mound Key” in the Gulf of Mexico four miles distant.
Cyrus Teed was a physician living in Utica, New York in 1870. He liked to experiment with electricity and once shocked himself into unconsciousness. When he awoke, he had seen God, who he said was both male and female and had learned that mankind lived inside a hollow sphere 8,000 miles in diameter.
The Koresheans moved here from Chicago in 1893 and acquired 3,000 wilderness acres including a great amount of “worthless” pristine beachfront. They lived at first in tents in the mud, but soon cleared the land and built more than 50 structures, including this house for the Planetary Sisters.
They believed in celibacy and for that reason the cult died out by the 1960s. Their affairs were ruled by seven women who represented the seven known planets. The aging remnants of the cult deeded the land to the state in 1963 and a State park was created. When married couples joined the cult, they lived in separate dormitories.
The members of the cult signed over all material possessions to Cyrus. He had an appeal to the women of his time. Many left husbands to join the settlement.
Once firmly established, the Koresheans incorporated the town of Ostero a few miles south of Fort Myers. The Founder, Cyrus Teed, was beaten badly by the Marshall and his assistant in Fort Myers after a political argument and eventually died of the injuries he received. Cyrus is Koresh in Hebrew. They conducted experiments to prove that the horizon curved upward.
The Koresheans believed that we lived inside a hollow sphere with a crust 100 miles thick surrounded by a great void of nothing...the sun moon and planets were mere reflections ...night was a vast cloud of dark gases that powered the revolution of the sphere much like an electric motor...the strange mammal with the "big brain" remains capable of the most astounding delusions (present company excepted, of course)...the leader, Cyrus, was kept in a bathtub after his death for a week, since it was assumed that he would reanimate. His grave was washed into the Gulf by a 1920 hurricane and he has not been seen since.
I walked though the Koreshian compound today...the last of them gave up her belief in the hollow sphere. She said in 1973 that the American boys walking on the moon convinced her that we lived outside the sphere...
In an unrelated matter, David Koresh (an assumed name) of the Branch Dividians in Waco was also impressed with the name of the man who led the Jews away from Babylon. David Koresh (the Hebrew name for Cyrus) had the following discussion with FBI negotiators:
Koresh: "What is Christ revealed as, according to the fourth seal?"
FBI: "Pale... a rider on a pale horse."
Koresh: "And his name is what?"
Koresh: "Now, do you know what the name Koresh means?"
FBI: "Go ahead..."
Koresh: "It means death.
The unfortunate conflagration at the Branch Davidian compound led to the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal building in 1995 by a disturbed American Iraq veteran (Iraq I) resulting in 250 deaths, including a large number of young children at the day care center.