Cyrus Teed’s Family

Cyrus Teed married Fidelia (Delia) M. Rowe in 1859, and their son, Douglas Arthur Teed was born February 21, 1860. As an adult, Douglas became a respected artist, and some of his works still grace the walls of the Koreshan Unity’s Art Hall in the Historic Settlement area of Koreshan State Park. The above painting is one of his works, Parade Led by Elephants.

When Douglas was about nine, there was an awakening in his father that hinged on dogmatic opinions, mysticism, and the exotic. Although his family rejected his new beliefs and lifestyle, Cyrus persisted in them. After experiencing what he claimed was a divine vision, Cyrus began to neglect his duties as husband and father and his family eventually lost him to the religious fervor that consumed him. Ultimately, Cyrus left his wife and son to pursue religion and create Koreshanity and the religious sect he called the Koreshan Unity and proclaim himself Messiah

In the mid-twentieth century, the Unity’s periodical, The American Eagle, reported that letters in their archives from Cyrus indicated affection for his wife and child. Despite criticism, Delia eventually accepted him as the Messianic personality of the age. Although Douglas and his father did not get along for most of their lives, in later years they did reconcile. However, Douglas and his mother never converted to Koreshanity. Due to her ill health, she and Douglas moved in with her sister in Binghamton, New York where they remained until Delia died in 1885.

Douglas returned to his New York studio in 1895 and earned a living by painting portraits and landscapes. Most of his work ended up in private collections, and he often painted in trade for other services. During World War I, the bulk of Douglas’ income was supported by painting portraits of such men as Senator O’Gorman, New York Governor Whitman, Supreme Court Judge Williams R. Day and steel mogul Andrew Carnegie. Although highly praised at the time, portraits held little interest for Douglas. When interviewed in 1925, he stated he was “…off portraits for life.” Douglas Arthur Teed passed at age 69 on May 23, 1929. Ironically, his father, Cyrus, also died at the age of 69 on December 22nd, 1908. 

Click here for a look at other paintings by Douglas Arthur Teed.

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