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January 2016 – Page-4

     Victoria Gratia, a.k.a. Annie Glassen ((1)) Ordway has always been a bit of a mystery. Being in a leadership role within the Unity, and even crowned Empress by Teed, Victoria seemed to drop from favor soon after the death of Dr. Teed. This indicates that her “popularity” (if we can use that word), never really amounted to much.

Certainly, as long as Teed was alive, she maintained power, but this was always due to the fact that Dr. Teed “always” defended her and her position within the Koreshan Unity. Within eight months after the death of Teed she was gone. One gets the feeling that Victoria was always in a precarious position, at least with many of Teed’s followers. Part of this is due, in my opinion, to the fact that women were, regardless of Cyrus Teed’s theology, still considered inferior. This is seen in the correspondence between Teed and George Hunt. When Teed was “on the road”, he corresponded with Hunt. Hunt, for all intents and purposes, ran the day to day activities at the Unity. Of course, Victoria was on the road too, but I have yet to see much evidence of the her or the Planetary Court ladies running the day to day activities. I think that Teed “believed” in the equality of the sexes, but he was also a pragmatist and saw that the world outside of Estero, at least in the early 20th century, was a “man’s world”. The same belief in equality seems to have held true for African Americans who were members of the Unity. ((2))Equality” may have been in “mind” only.

Still, Victoria always had a following, some of whom followed her to central Florida after she left the Unity. She always seemed to believe that she was the female Koresh, even though she was married to Dr Graves, the Koreshan dentist. Twelve years after her departure, she wrote a “proclamation” to the Unity at Estero offering to return. (See the April 2011 post)

One hears things along the historic path and I once heard that Victoria, that is, Annie, had been born and baptized a Catholic. In Lyn Millner’s The Allure of Immortality, she says that an unidentified Koreshan who visited her at her new home in central Florida saw “…her ivory rosary beads were well worn and that two Catholic priests often visited” ((3)) If, in fact, Annie Ordway had ever been Catholic, she certainly was not when she married the first time to David Ordway, a grocer, in Boston on February 1, 1863. Their marriage (she was only 19) was witnessed by one “A.A. Miner”, pastor of the Second Universalist Church of Boston. You can view the entry in the “Boston Register of Marriages” which shows David and Annie’s Marriage Record. David apparently remarried after Annie left him for the Unity. David died in 1914 in Chicago.

  1. Annie’s maiden name appears in most genelogical indexes as “Glassen” rather than “Glossen”. []
  2. This is a subject of some speculation. Very little is known about whether or not African Americans were, in fact, members of the Unity or merely employees []
  3. Millner, Lyn. The Allure of Immortality: An American Cult, a Florida Swamp, and a Renegade Prophet.
    p.246 []

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