Cyrus Teed died in 1908. He did not rise from the dead or transmute or anything else. However, the faith of those who followed him was, in many ways, phenomenal. They continued to hope for something that would show that what he had said about his return was true. In the meantime, his body was placed in the Koreshan built mausoleum on Estero Island, also known as Crescent Beach, now Fort Myers Beach. Next to it, they built a small cabin where a constant watch was kept. Almost 13 years after his death something did happen… the 1921 Hurricane.This unnamed storm made landfall at Tarpon Springs, near Tampa. However, it caused a great deal of damage, mostly flooding, in the Fort Myers area.
Here is a letter written by Evelyn Bubbett, one of the first followers of Dr. Teed. She was writing to her son, Laurie (Laurence), her daughter, Imogene and her husband, Claude Rahn (again, an early member of the Unity).
Estero, October 26, 1921
My dearest Ones – Gene, Claude & Laurie
Have just come from a consultation of the Board to determine the best policy to pursue in view of the conditions we find confronting us at this time. We have had another awful storm, perhaps not so bad as the one we had in 1910, so far as the damage here is concerned, but the awful force of the waves and wind burst the Tomb and demolished it.
Wm. McG saw it struck by an immense wave about 7am Tuesday October 25, as he stood in the door of the cottage, with the water rushing in, in volumes, and him trying to keep the door open so the water woud not strike the house broadside and carry it away. It would come in at the fron door, and go out the back door, till it rose to his armpits, and by that time he was almost exhausted and chilled to the bone. The water first cam in about 6:30am and he battled with it till nearly noon. By that time Carl came with a row boat–his story is too long to tell now. About 2 o’clock yesterday, Geo., Steve and Will Fisher went down in the “Star” because we knew from the direction of the wind what the water would do there at the island. They got there about 4pm, and found that a houseboat from Hickory Island had floated over and landed close to Carl’s woodshed and Carl and Wm. were in it. Wm. helped himself to some dry clothes and later the man (a fisherman) came over and offered to get them something to eat. By that time Geo. and Steve had examined the Tomb, found it empty, and no trace of the receptacle the Master was placed in. Carl had a hard time of it also. He packed his trunk and tried to get it back into the mangroves, but it got away from him, (he was in his row boat), and the current was carrying him out, so he paddled back through the brush to see if Wm. was alive. His power boat was anchored to a little dock around the point where Hirman Mays use to be and the strong wind too dock and boat away. If he had fastened it to a stout piling it would have been all right. Geo thinks they know where to look for it. So they may find it. After looking awhile for the receptacle the Master was in, they came home about 6:30. Had a rough time, as the waves dashed Carl’s row boat around a good deal — they had it in tow, with some things G had picked up, and Wm. had gathered from his place. Carl’s house has gone entirely; the other cottage is quite a wreck.
At our meeting it was decided that we hold ourselves, as the Board of Management, in an entirely passive attitude toward the Master’s positive and directing mind; believing he will manifest himself in his own good time and manner, and no amount of speculation will help matters. Some have already said “I told you so”. That proves nothing. His alchemical laboratory served its purpose till the appointed time. I have always strongly believed that when it was opened it would be done by nature in some tremendous upheaval, and it was. We don’t know what the rest of the Island is like, but suppose all the “Coney Island” businesses has gone overboard. DeLysle has collapsed financially, so it is stated.
Brother George, Steve and perhaps Carl have gone down again, this a.m. to look around the premises and see what them can get find. All the fish houses went off their foundations. The fishermen from Mound Key came up here the night before and said the Island was under water. Of course the high ground was all right, where Mrs. Johnson and Wm. Acuff are. Wm. came home before the Birthday.
Well, it is nearly dinner time and I will stop writing till I know whether there is to be any mail today or not. The bell has rung for dinner, so I’ll stop.
Thank heaven the wind has gone down and the storm is over, tho it is still cloudy. Carl has been drying the things he saved and getting his trip straightened out. Saved quite a few dishes and silver, so Emma says. He has used the room in the office that Laurie had, when he came up here. We are not certain what to do about his mail route. We have not had any mail in 2 days, and of course Carl did not dare go on his trip yesterday. We can’t get any news from Myers. The rivers are down; someone said a car came thru yesterday afternoon and the driver said the water was up over the city dock 18 inches. The tide here is the river was 2 feet higher than was ever known, but it went down rapidly as it came time for it to go out. The wind whipped our trees unmercifully but we are so glad no such damage was done as in 1910, that is, to our buildings.
The storm affected me very much; it had been cloudy and rainy for 2 or 3 days and the day before the hardest wind started, I knew it was hurricane weather that was coming. I was so nervous it was hard to keep at anything. James was quite affected also. I have not been able to write the personal letters I intended because I had to attend to getting off the cards and programs Sr. Vi(?) used to send out. David has been such good help; don’t know what I should do without him. Marie is doing all she can to get out the Sword copy in with her Eagle work. Helen left last Saturday. The last form of the CC is about read for the press…
The rest of the letter deals with people and events around the Unity. The letter shows, in my opinion the honest faith that Evelyn and the others continued to hold on to, despite the fact that it had been 13 years since Teed’s death and now this natural disaster which washed away the physical remains of Cyrust Teed.
In this day and age it is easy to look back on the time of the Koreshans and even scoff a little at their unusual beliefs. Some go so far as to call them whackos and nuts. Perhaps some of them were (Edgar Peissart comes to mind), but overall, they were a group of people who gave their lives, their money and their future over to a belief, a faith, which turned out to be bogus. Yet, their faith kept them going. Committing oneself to that is something that is foreign to most people in our consumer oriented society.