Earlier this week we visited friends Mona and Jerry, originally from Pewaukee, who are now Florida residents for six months of the year. They have a beautiful home near Koreshan State Historic Site and treated us to a tour of this interesting place in Estero.
Cyrus Teed, head of the Koreshan Unity Settlement, started a utopian community movement in New York. He eventually moved to Florida (it was still a frontier in the mid-1890s) to avoid hostility because of his group's religious, scientific, and cultural beliefs. Teed took the name of "Koresh," a very loose translation of Cyrus. The word means shepherd or leader in Hebrew. (Maybe you recall another Koresh who called himself a shepherd - David. His compound in Waco, Texas was wiped out by the FBI back in the 1990s.) The Koreshans in Florida were a more peaceful people and believed in equal rights for women long before women won the right to vote in our country.
However, their science was a bit strange. Teed believed that the entire universe existed within a giant, hollow sphere. One saw the sun, moon, and stars by looking inward rather than outward.
The Koreshan community did reach out to the people living in Estero. The Koreshans put on plays and musicals and created elaborate Victorian gardens. Back in the day, the locals paddled down the Estero River and took in the Koreshan culture from their boats.
Unfortunately, when a community believes in being celibate, the only way to add members is by recruitment. Therefore, its future is somewhat doomed. And so it was with the Koreshans. By 1961 only four women remained and, wisely, they deeded their land to the state of Florida as a park and memorial. The Koreshan Unity Settlement is now on the National Register of Historic Places with 11 restored buildings.
Okay, that's it for the history lesson. Now on to the flora that is in the park....
This tall skinny tree is a Washingtonian palm or hurricane palm. It bends in the winds that oftentimes lash the Gulf coast of Florida.
The tree starts out life wearing what looks like a tutu. Not sure how long it takes for the palm to reach stratospheric heights.
Bromeliads are plants that attach themselves to other plants such as palm trees. At first glance it looks like this tree has a full crown of leaves. A second look reveals hundreds of individual bromeliads.
The blossoms on this silk cotton tree were a welcome sight in the middle of winter.
Another interesting tree was the sausage tree. Notice the brown "sausage" hanging about one third of the way down a little to the left of center.
While our tour was about the history and the trees in the park, we did see this gopher tortoise that came out of its burrow just for our little tour group!
The Florida state parks' tag line is "Real fun in.....the Real Florida." From what we've seen so far, the phrase is right on the money.