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March 2016 – Page-2

More of “Whatever Happened To?”

This time we want to feature a member of Cyrus Teed’s own family. We hear some about his parents, but rarely about his brothers and sisters, save Emma Norton Teed who lived in the Community for most of her adult life, dying in 1950.

But this is about Cyrus’ younger brother Oliver Francis Teed. He was born on March 15, 1847. Like Cyrus, he too was a doctor, although there does not seem to be much about when or where other than the fact that he and Cyrus shared a practice in Syracuse, New York in the late 1880’s

During the Civil War, Oliver enlisted in the Union Army in January of 1862. The records list him as a musician. He was discharged and re-enlisted, serving until the end of the war in 1865.

Oliver married Minnie Davis on September 20, 1871. Minnie’s death date is, at this point, unknown, but they apparently had no children.

Oliver followed his brother, Cyrus, and apparently believed in his teachings. It is unclear just how much of an ardent follower he was. When Cyrus’ father, Jesse Teed returned from Chicago to New York in 1891, Oliver went with him. On their way home, Oliver lost his wallet and all his money. Jesse wrote to his daughter, Emma Teed Norton. The letter is somewhat comical (as Jesse was prone to do). You can read the letter here. At some point Oliver returned to Chicago. According to Lyn Millner, Oliver was “expelled from the Koreshan house” after he became romantically involved with Sarah Crosten, the sister of Annie Cole. ((1)) Annie’s husband, Thomas Cole had sued Cyrus over the fact that Annie had left him to join the Koreshans. It is a twisted tale. Oliver and Sarah were married in Kenosha Wisconsin on September 29, 1894. According to the 1900 Census Oliver was back in the community along with his and Sarah’s two daughters, Mabel and Mildred. Sarah is reported to have died on October 8, 1897 in Chicago.

The McCready sisters and Vesta Newcomb, in their book, “Folks We Knew While in the K.U.” wrote this about Oliver:

Doctor’s brother and was at both Beth Ophrah and Estero. ‘Vesta says his wife had been Sarah Crofton, but believe she had, died, before he and, the children came in (M). The girls often ,spoke of “Aunt Anna,” ((2))

Death Certificate for Mildred Teed

Death Certificate for Mildred Teed

who ,had taken care of them for awhile’ (R); believe Mildred died fairly young, but Mabel married a man by the name of Hummel and she and Nina kept in touch for years (M).

Much of this information turns out to be a little off. It was, of course, Sarah Crosten who was his second wife. They were right about Mildred Teed, however. She married a man named Harry Claphousen and lived in Norristown, Pennsylvania. She died of tuberculosis at age 29 on May 1, 1926. I have not found any further information on Mabel Teed.

Oliver spent some of his last years in Veteran’s homes. He returned to Estero at some point and he died there in February 1913.

  1. Millner, Lyn. The Allure of Immortality: An American Cult, a Florida Swamp, and a Renegade Prophet. P.108. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2015.
  2. This would have been Annie Cole []

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