Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Koreshan Unity Settlement and State Historic Site

At the turn of the century the United States had many communal societies being founded. One such communal society, The Koreshan Unity, was founded in 1894 in Estero, Florida. Estero is just south of us and where Yam went to college. Yam had been to the Koreshan State Historic Site a couple of times before but joined The Colonel and I for our first visit (Yam said she had been there enough times to now be considered an "Honorary Koreshan"). A couple of weeks later The Colonel, Yam, My-Favorite-Father/Mother-In-Law, My-Darling-Sister-In-Law and I visited the site together (maybe I am on my way to becoming an Honorary Koreshan too). 
Dr. Cyrus Teed or Koresh (Hebrew for Cyrus) formed the Koreshan Unity in 1886 in Chicago and brought his followers called Koreshans to Estero, Florida in 1894. It was here that a new community was to be established and this new community was to be the New Jerusalem.
The Koreshan Unity was founded upon the ideas of communal living and property. It was to be a Utopia; a life without crime, tobacco, drugs or alcohol. Every member would work for the good of all.
Those who joined the Koreshan Unity were promised security, order and a sense of achievement. Economically, all needs were met and financial security was assured. Religiously, it was a return to Christianity (or as Dr. Teed called it, Koreshanity) as it was "meant to be". Socially, it provided classic education with vocational training. Scientifically, it offered a universe that was finite and understandable. Equality among the sexes was ordained and everyone had a job and place in life.
Those who came to Estero found it a test of their courage and ability. They left their safe, comfortable, mostly upper-middle class lives to begin a new one in a hot, humid, bug-infested wilderness. Their faith in Dr. Teed and his teachings was great. The new Koreshans brought their furnishings, books and even a grand piano to their new home.
At the turn of the century the colony had around 200 members; many coming from Chicago. There was a laundry, machine shop, bakery/dormitory, dining hall, art hall and housing for the seven women who managed the Unity. The house was called the Planetary Court.

 Dr. Teed had his own house.
This is the Art Hall where the Koreshans gave musicals, plays and lectures.
Inside the Art Hall was a display of a globe that supported the Koreshan belief of a hollow earth existence. The globe still works today and spins. 

There was a Unity school that the children of the Koreshans attended.
The Unity also had its own publishing business. They published books, pamphlets, periodicals and leaflets. It was highly successful and was one of the best printing and binding establishments in the state at the time.
The Koreshan Unity also had a store and a boat building business. They had a large garden that fed them as well as financially supported them as they sold what they grew.
By 1906 the Koreshan community was in decline. There were several reasons why this happened. Estero was incorporated and the officials in nearby Fort Myers did not want to divert their tax revenues to support Estero projects. The Koreshan beliefs made those in nearby areas uncomfortable. Some of the Koreshan members wanted to enter into the local political scene which also made many outside the Unity angry. In 1906, Ross Wallace, a Koreshan candidate for the County Commission, was involved in an altercation with a Mr. Sellers in Fort Myers. Dr. Teed happened to be in town awaiting the arrival of new Koreshan members. Mr. Sellers became violent and struck Dr. Teed several times in the face and head. The marshal did not intervene. In fact, the marshal also struck Dr. Teed. Two years later, in December of 1908, Dr. Teed died from complications of the severe beating.
Dr. Teed told his followers that he would rise up from the dead three days after he died. The followers placed his body in a bathtub and waited to see the miracle happen. Three days passed in the warm Florida climate and still no resurrection took place. Eventually Teed's body had to be buried.
After Teed's death the Unity and its community began to slowly dwindle. The final Koreshan to live there was Hedwig Michel.
 Hedwig passed away in 1982 and is buried on the grounds of the Koreshan State Historic Park.
Many people hold their wedding ceremonies at the park. The grounds are beautiful. It was lovely walking around and taking pictures.
There is a large bamboo garden that you can walk through. The bamboo creaks as the breeze blows through the stands.
This is the Bamboo Landing along the Estero River followed by a picture of Estero River.

Many pretty things to see...


There was a sausage tree on the park grounds. It is an interesting tree. The "sausages" hang down from long vines. There were sausages on the ground. Yam is holding one and she said it was a bit heavy.

This is a lovely place to visit and I liked learning about the Koreshan Unity's history. I think my favorite part was the beautiful Planetary Court house. We were able to take a tour inside (lower floor only). The woodwork inside was beautiful and impressive. I loved the built-in bench in front of the stairs.

The bedrooms were simple, yet pretty. Each bedroom had its own door to the outside.

Dr. Teed's house was a bit more fancy inside yet plainer on the outside than the Planetary Court.


The Koreshan Unity Settlement and State Historic Park is a must see if you are ever in the Estero, Florida area.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Every once in a while our cat, Luna, darts inside the house when the door is opened. She makes her rounds on both floors.

The other day Luna decided that she wanted to sit on the couch for a bit between Yam and I. Yam happened to be using my iPad at the time. She googled on YouTube some videos that were supposed to be interesting for cats.

Luna liked the birds. Squirrels, not so much.

It was funny watching Luna watch the videos. I wonder if she told our other cat Charlotte all about it when she was put back outside.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shrimp Shrimp

One of the many "perks" of living in Florida is the abundance and availability of seafood. I am still not a huge fish fan but I am working on it. My tastes tend to run towards shellfish and crustaceans.

Last night I made Shrimp Scampi (I have to laugh to myself when I say that because scampi is the plural of scampo which means shrimp in I made Shrimp Shrimp last night).

I made the scampi dish from a kind of shrimp I have never eaten before (heck, I didn't even know it existed). I used Royal Reds. I received an email from a local seafood shop saying these beauties were available. I decided to give them a try.

Royal Reds are perhaps the softest, sweetest and most delicate of all our native shrimp species. These shrimp never see the light of day, preferring the cold, dark depths out at the edge where the gently sloping Gulf's bottom drops abruptly off the continental shelf. They live at depths from 1,200 to over a half mile down. Due to their delicate texture, cooking time for this shrimp is cut almost in half. Royal Reds are naturally a bit salty, so never use salt when cooking with them.

I purchased two pounds of Royal Reds with the heads still on. I pulled the heads from the tails and then shelled and deveined them.

When all were cleaned I was left with a little over 12 ounces of shrimp meat (barely enough to make my scampi dish and feed both The Colonel and I with a bit left over so that Yam could try them when she got home from work that evening...that is why I normally buy shrimp with no heads but the Royal Reds were only available with heads on). I cut the shrimp into bite-sized made it seem like there was more there than actually was.

I sautéed some garlic in olive oil for about 30 seconds and then I tossed in the shrimp. As the shrimp cooked I put in a bit of dried parsley (I thought I had some fresh), a pinch of red pepper flakes and a little lemon juice. I put the scampi on a bit of pasta.

The Colonel and I were very pleased with the taste and texture of the Royal Reds. They were soft to the bite, not at all chewy, and their flavor was somewhat lobster like.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Surprise and Whimsy

I found this on my kitchen's window sill one day.

Yam made this flying bicycle "terrarium". She took a piece of clear plastic from some packaging and stamped the flying bicycle on it. She then put that in the glass jar along with some cotton balls.

What a cute idea and a lovely surprise!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

First Communions, First Bikes and New Bikes

One of my family's traditions was that after someone made their First Communion they got their own bike.
This is my First Communion photo. My mother made the dress and veil. All four of my sisters wore the dress and veil for their First Communions too.
I remember my First Communion day like it was yesterday. As I was getting dressed, I was bending over to pull up my socks when one of my sisters bumped into me (to this day I cannot remember which one, maybe because of the head trauma), causing me to run the top of my head into the corner of the dresser. Corners of dressers are much harder than the head of a second grader. I ended up with a gaping wound that bled copiously, as well as a massive headache.
My mother stopped the bleeding eventually and I proceeded to finish getting dressed. The veil sat dangerously close to my fresh head wound.
I remember after I was dressed, I stood in front of a big peony bush in our side yard for a photo session. Every time the spring breeze blew across my head I felt terrible pain. My head ached and I was a bit nauseated too (probably had a slight concussion). I had to "suck it up" because it was a big day and we had to get to the church.
Having survived my First Communion Day (just barely), a couple of days later it was time to shop for my first bike.
There was an old Ace Hardware in town. It had wooden floors and big display windows on either side of the front door. In one of these windows was a row of bikes. I saw a purple bike with a sparkly, purple, banana seat. I had to have it! My bike looked similar to this one (alas, I have no photo of me and my bike, so I had to find something from the Internet). Mine was a Huffy bike.
I loved my bike! It was mine, all mine! First bikes are always special and memorable. I have had one or two bikes since my purple one but I haven't had a bike for twelve years now. I have been wanting one for some time and finally visited a local bike shop to see what they had in stock.
I "test rode" two of their bikes for women and decided I wanted 3G's single speed model called the Venice. They had several pretty colors to choose from. I opted for the gorgeous green bike.
I also bought a basket for my bike. I like its design and how easy it is to put on or remove without screws, bolts or nuts involved.
The Colonel found this wooden bike rack on the Instructables website. We made one for ourselves with a few improvements added and a paint job (I haven't taken any pictures of the rack we built. Shocking I know, as usually I am snap-happy. Thanks again for the photos from the Internet).

We wanted a way to transport our bikes in the back of our truck so that we could take them into town where we would ride them along the new bike/pedestrian paths.
Last week we did just that. The bike rack worked like a charm. We pedaled our way along the path, enjoying the sun and scenery. We stopped along the way to take in the beauty of the water's edge.
I cannot remember if Yam and Spud got their first bikes after they made their First Communions (maybe some residual effects from the head trauma at the time of my First Communion? I did ask The Colonel and Yam if they remembered but they didn't so maybe my previous head injury does not figure into this lapse of memory after all...whew). 


Here is a picture of Yam and Spud with their first bikes. We lived in Key West at the time and we would often ride our bikes through the cemetery (a very popular thing to do there).