Skip to content

November 2010

From the Koreshan Archives: — November
— November brings us to the birthdates of two of the most prominent Koreshans, at least with regard to the present day State Historic Site. November 12 is the 160th birthday of Berthaldine Sterling Boomer,one of the very first followers of Dr. Teed. Her name also figures prominently in the history of the State Historic Site since her home, built by her son, Lucius Boomer, is the focal point of the latest efforts to preserve Estero. The house once known as Mirasol Grove still stands, hidden by the growth, at the corner of US-41 and Broadway. The home was sold to the State and Lee County to be preserved. Berthaldine, who died in the house in 1935 was, as already mentioned, an early follower of Dr. Teed. She came to Estero with the second group in January of 1894. Mrs. Boomer did a great deal of writing for various Koreshan publications, including the Flaming Sword.

The other prominent Koreshan was Lillian “Vesta” Newcomb who was born in Stockton California on November 19, 1878. Lillian, who was renamed “Vesta” by Koresh, came to Chicago with her mother, Hattie, who had become a widow, and her brother, James. They arrived in Estero in 1894. Even though Hedwig Michel was the last Koreshan, Vesta was the last of the originals. That is, she was the last of the original Estero settlers. Vesta served as a maid to Victoria (Annie Ordway) and was a student of Koresh, a lover of poetry and books. She also served as a helper to her mother who ran the Koreshan dining room. She was a teacher and even learned to operate the linotype machine at the Guiding Star publsihing house. She also befriended the Boomer family and was a frequent visitor to Mirasol Grove. George Boomer, grandson of Berthaldine, donated almost 20 acres of land near the boat ramp in the Historic Site in Vesta’s memory. Vesta wrote of the ordeal of those early days. she said:

“We tackled with the wind this way and that way,and we were all sick. At Mound Key we were rowed in a towboat to Halfway Creek where they pushed north through the bush carrying our belongings and a parrot in a cage. We finally reached an ox-team trail, turned south over a rustic bridge, and there we established our settlement. We pitched our tents and slept for 10 months on the ground. We cooked and ate around a bonfire. Everyone did his share of the work.

Vesta died on April 8, 1974.

In the spirit of the season… Yesterday was Halloween and of course, every year there are stories about ghosts and cemeteries. The News-Press had an article over the weekend about cemeteries and they mentioned the Korehsan cemetery located inside Pelican Sound. One of the residents said:

“It’s right smack in the middle of our neighborhood.”

Well, I’m sure they meant it in a nice way, but those buried Koreshan were there a long time before the neighborhood was. The Koreshans were also referred to as “Kooks“. Again, I’m sure the remarks were well meaning, but looking back with 20-20 hindsight, a lot of people looked like kooks. The Koreshans were true pioneers in southwest Florida and regardless of some of their off beat beliefs (by today’s standards), they brought culture and civilization to this area, which is NOT to day that the Seminoles and others did not, but Koreshans brought with them their music, literature and other valuable contributions to life in this area.

Categories: Monthly Feature.

Comment Feed

No Responses (yet)

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.