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August 2011

This month we want to feature the woman for whom our major collection was named, Cora Stephens. The Stephens collection is in the hands of the State of Florida despite the Koreshans… Not the present day “College of Life”, but the Koreshans of 1950.

Let me explain. For any number of reasons, the Koreshans believed that when one of their number died, their personal belongings we of no account, so generally things were discarded. I suppose that is like most of us. When people pass away, we hang on to certain items — mementos.

Cora Stephens on far left. Emma Teed Norton, center

In this particular case, Cora Stephens, who was the caregiver for Emma Norton, the sister of Cyrus Teed, chose to hang on to a number of items that had belonged to Emma, and ultimately Dr. Teed. These included photographs, letters and publications.. Obviously, in 1950, when Emma died, there was probably no talk about a State Park, or an archive. It probably wasn’t totally clear what would have happened to her belongings, simply because Emma had a number of letters and memorabilia that had belonged to Dr. Teed.

All we do know is that Cora took these items into her care and later on, after she left the Unity, she took these items with her. The reasons as to why this happened are unknown. All that we know is that years later, Cora Stephen’s daughter-in-law donated these items to the State of Florida. That is how we acquired this collection which makes up the bulk of the holdings in our archives.

According to Evelyn Horne:

Notes from Evelyn Horn: Cora Stevens (Stephens)
Cora Stevens (sic) came to the Koreshan Unity, Estero, Florida April 1918 with her husband Joel from their home in Mt. Tabor, N.C. with three children, Wade only eight years old–Mace, who became a printer and barber by trade–Alafae, a beautiful teenage girl. The children were all educated at the Koreshan School. They were all active in music and performing in plays, entertaining in the Art Hall. Alafae was a dramatic reader of poetry. Sister Cora worked in the kitchen and dining hall. She loved to make beautiful cakes for special occasions of Koreshan celebrations. In late years she often visited her grown-up children, who married. Alafae Strande who lived in Phil. and the sons in Tampa, Florida.

We are always happy when we find more information about the Koreshans, especially when it sheds light on individuals and on everyday life in the Unity.

Categories: Monthly Feature.

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