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August 2012

From the Koreshan Archives:
 —  This month we look closer at the background of Annie Glosson Ordway Graves. On August 29, 1909, Annie, known to Koreshans as “Victoria Gratia” , married Dr. Charles Graves, the Koreshan dentist and former Mayor of Estero. This came after the two were basically drummed out of the Unity after the death of Dr. Teed in December of the previous year (1908). For all her prominence, Annie’s history is rather vague. Here is what we know about her.

Annie Glosson Ordway Graves

·  She was born in Boston Massachusetts on April 10, 1844 to Henry and Ann Glosson.
·  Her first marriage was to David E. Ordway. Little or nothing is known of him.
·  By the time of the 1870 Census, she was living in Chicago.
·  In the 1880 Census, she is listed with her husband, David, who was listed as a baker, and two sons – Harry, age 14 and George, age 6.
·  In the 1900 Census she is now shown as a member of the Koreshan Unity, although the census says she is still married, but only shows her married for one year. This probably has something to do with the Unity since the census also shows Teed and all but one of the females as married for one year.

Exactly when Annie either left or divorced her husband is unknown, but we can only speculate that the breakup appears to have been due to the lure of Cyrus Teed and the Koreshan movement. It is also unclear as to when Teed elevated her to the rank of “Pre-Eminent”, that is to say, the female head of the Unity.

Regarding the reasons for Victoria’s departure from the Unity, it is believed that part of the reason was that she recommended Teed’s burial after her return to Estero, following his death. This obviously did not sit well with those who believed he would rise from the dead. She left the Unity and moved to Sanford, Florida to supposedly begin a new community. She eventually ended up in St. Petersburg where she died in 1923. There were some attempts by some members of the Unity to bring her back to Estero, but those efforts obviously failed.

The late Evelyn Horne wrote:

“The first celebration of the Lunar Festival was at Estero, in 1902, where Dr. Cyrus R. Teed and Victoria both attended. There were also celebrations at the Koreshan Home in Chicago. The Estero celebration was an all-day affair, starting at breakfast in the Dining Hall–a musical program at 10:30 a.m.–at 2 p.m. a boat trip on the steamer “Victoria”, down the Estero River, along with Dr. Teed and 32 members. The steamer was decorated with gala-day decorations with flags and streamers.

Here are images of the 1880 U.S. Census and the 1900 U.S. Census records. Just click on the image to open it up, then look for the Ordway family.

August also brings us the birthday of a very forward looking Koreshan, Alfred P. Christensen. Alfred was born in Copenhagen Denmark, on August 21, 1878. He was only four years old when he arrived in the United States in 1882. He was then naturalized in 1888. Alfred had many talents. He played the drums and the violin and he was a machinist. It was Alfred, as Koreshan director of the Mechanical Department, who ran the first power plant in Estero. Alfred was the engineer who hooked up the plant, which provided electric power for the Unity, in June 1925. Run by a Fairbanks Morse engine, Alfred worked hard to keep the power plant running until August 29, 1946 when Florida Power and Light Company brought electric power to Estero. Alfred also joined three other Koreshans, including Frank Lewis (see July) as a member of the “Trail Blazers” who crossed the State of Florida in Model-T’s to open the way for the construction of the “Tamiami Trail”, now US-41.

Alfred died at Lee Memorial Hospital on January 9, 1963 and was entered into the Koreshan Unity Cemetery, which is now part of the Pelican Landing development. They say that Alfred was a quiet person, well loved by all. He was of medium build, weighed about 150 pounds, strong in character, ruddy complexion, brown eyes, sandy hair. Very neat in his person. Always wore tan shirt and pants. Played the violin beautifully.

Categories: Monthly Feature.

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