Dr. Cyrus Teed, AKA “Master Koresh,” founder of the Koreshan Unity, told his followers that he would resurrect in three days, much in the same manner as Jesus Christ. He died December 22nd, three days before Christmas. His followers felt this was a good omen and that their Christmas present would be the return of their Master and he would take them up to heaven with him as he had assured them he would.
When Master Koresh died, his devoted followers gathered around a zinc bathtub on the porch of his beach house on Estero Island in which they had placed his body, waiting for his resurrection.
On the 26th of December, almost a week after Teed’s death, an official came down from Fort Myers and told the gathering they would have to bury their master; he was starting to decompose.
So with heavy but hopeful hearts, they placed the Master’s body in a hastily constructed mausoleum, zinc bathtub and all, on Estero Island. Again the followers gathered around and waited for his return. Some followers, however, felt they should get back to work; they did not want a repeat of only having peanuts and fish to eat all winter, as had happened a few years ago.
Eventually the Elders decided that they would have a couple of men watch over the mausoleum to protect it from vandals and to be there when the Master resurrected so they could return him to the Settlement for him to announce “I HAVE RISEN.”
As time passed and the Master failed to return, the Elders decided to place sand around the base of the mausoleum. If he were to resurrect and the watch party missed it, there would be footprints in the sand. Alas, no footprints appeared.
The last plan was to tie a boat to a palm tree near the edge of the Gulf so if the Master were to resurrect and no one was there to witness it, he would have a way to get back to the Settlement.
Gradually, members grew discouraged and began to leave the Unity, and few new members joined. In 1921, a hurricane came through Estero and blew the beach house, mausoleum, Teed and his zinc bathtub into the Gulf of Mexico. The few bones his followers found were lovingly interred in the Old Store on Route 41, until it burned down and Teed’s bones were lost once more.
To learn more about the Koreshan Unity and its members, take a guided tour of the historic settlement of these unusual Florida pioneers. Click here for tour days and times.