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August 2014

From the Koreshan Archives  —  AUGUST

   This month we want to repeat the entry from this same month in 2009, which marks 2014 as the 105th anniversary of the marriage of Annie Glosson Ordway and Charles Graves. Since there is so little known about Annie Ordway’s background, we wanted to repeat the post.

On August 29, 1909, Annie, known to Koreshans as “Victoria Gratia” , married Dr. Graves, the Koreshan dentist after the two were, for all intents and purposes, 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.

·  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 it 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.

Although it is not documented, it is believed that the reason for Annie Ordway’s removal as the leader of the Koreshans was that she recommended Teed’s burial after her return to Estero, following his death. There is some evidence that she did not ask for this, but if true, this obviously did not sit well with those who believed that Teed would rise from the dead. Recent scholarship shows that this would not have been the ONLY reason for her removal, rather, her “attitude”, if that is the correct word, that once Teed was gone, she was somehow ‘destined’ to replace him. Look for more on this in a future post. One could also make the argument that despite Teed’s reference to her as the “Pre-Eminent” most of the Koreshans thought otherwise. She left the Unity and moved to Sanford, Florida and then 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 failed. You can find some of those documents by searching this site.

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.

Categories: Monthly Feature.

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