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— October brings us the busiest month of the year with regard to the Koreshan story. The premier event is, of course, the birthday of Cyrus Teed, a.k.a. Koresh who was born in Delaware County New York on October 18, 1839. We usually feature the same thing each year in order to introduce anyone new to this site, the Koreshans and the Unity, to the life of Dr. Teed. With that in mind, we want to, once again, feature the work of former Ranger, Peter Hicks, who’s biography of Dr. Teed appears on this web site. In addition, however, we want to also feature another biography of Dr. Teed written by life long Koreshan Claude Rahn. The idea is to compare and contrast a scholarly look to a biography written by one who was a follower of Teed. Certainly the latter is filled with what we now know are either half-truths or untruths. Once again, the idea is not to criticize, but to understand how Teed’s followers took scripture and tradition to make Teed into something he was not.
Sometime prior to the year 1637 two Teed brothers had arrived in the Massachusetts Bay colony from England. Numerous pioneers of this period began to move on and settled on the east end of Long Island, New York, where John Teed married Mary —–, and ….. died at Huntington in 1683. Here also Samuel Teed married Hannah —–, and died in 1719.
From there members of this family moved on westward to upper and western parts of New York State. After crossing the Hudson river their intreped search through the wilderness for a home site, passing over what is now known as Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties until they finally reached Delaware county, N.Y. Here in the township of Tompkins they rested and built their cabins sometime prior to the Revolution (ca. 1757) in which several served. They settled around Trout Creek which later became known as Teed’s settlement or Teedsvil1e which is about fifteen miles from Walton.
Here lived Samuel Teed whow tradition records was a soldier of the Revolution. He married Mary Reneaux, and they had the following children: Samuel F., Stephen Root, Jesse Sears, and a daughter Mary who married a Mr. Jackson. Stephen Root Teed eventually moved to Lake Mills, Wisconsin. After the death of his wife Mary in 1826, at the age of 32 years, Samuel Teed married the second time Harriet —–, and from this later union there was born Harvey Teed, who was lost track of when he moved to the west.
Jesse Sears Teed was born June 24, 1814, and died in the community home of the Koreshan Unity in Chicago, Ill., March 9,1899. When Jesse S. Teed grew to manhood he married April 24, 1836, Sarah Ann Tuttle, who was born in Bristol, Conn., October 27, 1815, a daughter of the Rev Oliver Tuttle, a Baptist minister. She died October 25, 1885, in the community home that was the first established by Koresh on Grove Street in Moravia, New York, and was buried in the local Indian Mound cemetery.
Jesse end Sarah Ann Teed after their marriage lived on the road to Masonville about three miles from Trout Creek, and about equally distant from Masonvi11e. Here was born on October 18, 1839,their second son whom they named Cyrus Read Teed, while Jesse was at that time engaged in farming and the operation of a grist mill. There were other children, namely, George, Wilson, Charles, Oliver, Malora, who was born in Masonville, N. Y., April 7, 1845, and married a Mr. Wakeman, Zanetta who never married, and Emma born in Utica, January 8, 1857, and died January 12, 1950, in Estero, Florida. She married Albert E. Norton who later subsequently engaged in Business in Sidney Plains, N.Y. in the 80′s, the proprietor of a small foundry and machine shop. Samuel F. Teed, brother of Jesse, studied medicine and married a sister of the wife of Jesse named Mary Tuttle. He settled in Utica, N.Y., and engaged in the medical profession. The family of the Teeds were of the Baptist faith.
Dr. Cyrus R. Teed was directly descended through his mother from John Read who came to America in 1630, and settled in Rehoboth, Mass. Josiah Read, probably the eldest son of the latter, was among the early settlers in Connecticut, for in the vicinity of New London it is recorded he was living in 1652. He had two sons, John and Josiah. Josiah Read married Grace Holloway of Marshfield, Mass., in November, 1666, and settled in Norwich, Conn., and died there, July 3, 1717. They had eight children, among whom was Joseph, born March 12, 1681, who married Mary Guppie, Aug. 25, 1708. They had seven children, among whom was Joseph, born May 23, 1709, who married Thankful Andrews, September 16, 1740.
Joseph Read and Thankful (nee Andrews) Read had seven children, among whom was Amos, born, April 25 1758, who married Mary Bennett of Scituate Mass., July 1778, and settled in Lisbon Conn. Amos was a clergyman and died November 2, 1838. They had eleven children, namely, Daniel, Caleb, Levi, Walter, Joseph, James, Amos, Sala, Asher, Thomas and Lydia who was born July 27, 1790.
Lydia married the Rev. Oliver Tuttle and lived in Bristol, Conn. To them were born seven childr6n of whom three were daughters. Sarah Ann, born October 27, 1815, died at Moravia, N. Y., October 25, 1885 and buried there, and Mary and Emyline Tuttle. When Sarah was about twelve years of age her father, Rev. Tuttle with his family moved to New York state and settled in a home Between Utica end New Hartford. Eventually Sarah Ann married Jesse S. Teed, and Mary married his brother, Samuel F. Teed, while Emyline married Almon Baldwin. (from the “History of the Reed Family” by J.W. Reed, published by J. Wilson & Sons, Boston, in 1861)
Mr. Baldwin and his wife Emy1ine had two sons, Myron and Dr. Cyrus S. Ella (Baldwin) Graham and Elmer Baldwin were children of Dr. Cyrus S. Baldwin. The former was a member of the Koreshan Unity until her death in April 21, 1945. She married Alfred W. Graham, and their children were Bertha who married Victor Phillips, Florence, Robert and Lloyd.
It may be of interest here to record the fact that Joseph Smith, the Mormon founder was of the same ancestral stock as Dr. Cyrus R. Teed. Smith married Emma Hale a cousin of Jesse S. Teed the father of Dr. Cyrus R. Teed.
Jesse S. Teed was quite versatile, of an inventive trend of mind, and the patentee of several devices of practical utility, such as “Teed’s Turbine Water Wheel”, patented in 1871 while he was living in Moravia, N. Y. He also acquired some reputation as a physician to the sick, and during an epidemic of what was known in that day as “Black Tongue” his cures spread his fame for miles around. His brother Samuel F. Teed who contracted consumption in his youth was permanently cured by the care and attention given him by Jesse. During the early boyhood of Cyrus R. Teed his father Jesse moved with his family to the vicinity of his wife’s people, the Tuttles, between Utica and New Hartford. Here his sister, Emma (Norton) was born January 8, 1857.
Cyrus’ attendance at school ended when he was about eleven years of age, and from then on he was engaged in various occupations common to the youth of the countryside, among which was employment on the Erie Canal. In those days the Erie Canal was an important factor in the commercial life of the state, and afforded the youthful Cyrus opportunity to broaden his knowledge of men and their ways. As he grew odder and began to see about him the extent of the suffering and misery that mortals were heir to, of the sordid lives some lived, and the ruthless greed and selfishness that our Christian civilization had evolved with its fierce competitive struggle for existence, he pondered whether this was the all, the best that man could hope to achieve, or whether God in his omnipotence did not intend something better for mankind, to be obtained by ways then obviously unknown, yet within the possibility of reach were the method discovered or disclosed. He long and seriously reflected these thoughts, how to remedy or help in the alleviation of human suffering and the improvement of existing conditions.
Being of a highly idealistic nature, with keen percept1ves and rational faculties, he early decided that he could be of the greatest good to his fellowmen as a physician to the sick than in any other capacity. With this conviction uppermost in his thoughts he began to lay plans accordingly, and in 1859 his desires were realized when he began the study of medicine in the office of his uncle, Dr. Samuel F. Teed in Utica, N.Y. The year previous (1858) he married Fidelia Rowe of Merideth N.Y., and to them was born on February 21, 1860 in Utica a son whom they named Douglas Arthur Teed. This son in later years attained the distinction as an accomplished artist and portrait painter.
Douglas A. Teed died May 23, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan.
In 1862 Cyrus R. Teed with his family moved to New York City with the intention of completing his medical education, and for a time lived in Brooklyn, the Civil War then raging prompted him to volunteer his services in New York City as a private in the 27th Regiment, New York Volunteers, U. S. Army. There his medical knowledge and experience
became known to his superior officers and he was transferred to field hospital service, and attached to the staff of Col. Gurnsey and later to that of Lieut. Col. Stewart L. Woodford as assistant physician and surgeon. During his service in the army of about one and half years his wife and infant son lived with her parents residing in Meredith,
Delaware county, N. Y. After his release from the army he undertook the completion of his medical studies at the New York Eclectic Medical College, from which he was graduated in the winter of 1868. Then he immediately began the practice of medicine in Utica, N. Y.
His success as physician was immediate, but there was something lacking; his daily ministrations to the sick failed to satisfy that innate longing to be of greater and more effective help in the alleviation of human misery, and the wretched economic conditions of life that everywhere appeared so desperate and hopeless. He felt there surely must be some way to remedy these ever-present and persistent evils, and he applied himself assiduously to intensive mental application in the study of the problem.
In his biological investigations with their wide ramifications he was led to believe that possibly in the field of physics he might discover therein fundamental knowledge of inorganic substance that would in itself, when once understood, furnish the key to the unlocking of the secrets of organic life. Thus while living in Deerfield, near (now a part of) Utica, during the winter of 1869 and 1870, engaged in the practice of his profession, and deeply absorbed in ·various electro-magnetic experiments in which he had engaged for several years he made tho important discovery of the central law of existence that was operative in organic and inorganic substance, the law of the transmutation of same or alchemy.
In the cognition of this great law of transmutation and its operation, which many past generations had sought in vain to fathom, he was convinced that if the knowledge he had gained in the field of physics were applied to that of biology, its mysteries, too, would readily yield themselves to the inquiring mind. In deep contemplation of the vast field of knowledge that now lay spread before the threshold of his brilliant and analytical,mind, he was mentally illuminated from the interior celestial spheres and his messianic destiny and future service to mankind revealed. The arcana of divine wisdom and love has conjoined through a mental conjunctive with his, the central personality of the age; an ever re-current event through the spirals of eternity.. The duration of the period that he was receptive to this divine illumination covered several weeks.
His illumination was attended by numerous supernatural incidents, all contributing to the confirmation of his messianic destiny, but space does not permit their inclusion here, except for one singular event that occurred at the time he was under the influence of the divine afflatus, which we record as follows, although it will be obviously beyond the possibility of acceptance by the hopelessly materialistic mind of the average man of today. Dr Teed was impulsed to visit his cousin, Myron Baldwin living nearby, between whom there was a strong bond of attachment and understanding. As he entered a building where Myron was employed on construction work the latter went forward to meet him, intuitively aware of his coming, and he beheld him surrounded by a brilliant halo of supernal light. At once he became cognizant of his messianic investiture, and then and there he was prompted to bestow a blessing upon Cyrus after the manner of John the Baptist’s blessing of Christ. It was late in the day and both proceeded to Myron’s home, where the latter’s wife during the afternoon had experienced a deep feeling of spiritual upliftment, and had clairvoyant perceived poised on the wall brackets, frequently used in that day to display bric-a-brac, two cherubim or angels. She marveled much at this strange phenomenon and the intensity of supreme exaltation that pervaded her entire being; and thus while looking for the return of Myron she beheld him and Cyrus approaching the house surrounded by a brilliant halo of light.
Following Cyrus’ illumination he naturally felt the insistent urge and necessity of disseminating to the world the marvelous revelations that had been revealed to him, but there were few able to understand and accept his doctrines and confess his messianic mission. Hence, because of his strange and radical doctrines he gradually began to suffer the loss of his medical practice in Utica, and he was severely criticized and persecuted as a fanatic and one bordering on insanity. In consequence of which there were occasions when he was in great need of the barest necessities of life. Yet he persisted in his determination to deliver his great truths to en unresponsive world, and possessing vast intellectual power and unusual oratorical ability he finally began to make headway amid the gloom and ignorance that enveloped his fellowmen after years of effort and disappointment. He was the single light brilliantly shining in the night of human woe, yet mankind shackled to fallacies that had increased with the passing of the centuries pursued their delusions through the deep darkness and perceived it not.
[Excerpted from "A Brief Outline of the Life of Dr. Cyrus R. Teed (Koresh) and the Koreshan Unity" by Brother Claude (Claude Rahn), pp 15-23, BK-0003]