It was founded by Cyrus Teed in Moravia, New York, in 1880, with a couple hundred members. In 1894, the entire community moved to Estero, Florida and created a self-sufficient community with stores and businesses. This community survived until 1961, when the last four members deeded the property to the state of Florida. The original settlement is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Over the decades, the community has been home to a number of individuals from around the globe. I discovered the Koreshan community while researching Central Illinois artist Paul Sargent. His father, John Sargent, disappears from Coles County, where his wife and nine children lived. John Sargent left his family and became a member of the Koreshan sect a year before the group moved to Florida. He remained with the Koreshan community until his death in 1932. He was buried in Estero, Florida, instead of in Coles County, Illinois, where his wife was buried. We know from the Koreshan site, that three of Sargent's children, including the artist Paul Sargent, visited the Koreshan colony but apparently never lived there. Such groups are enumerated as a community and are often labeled in the censuses. Those who live there, claim the faith-based community as their sole legal address. If you cannot find an ancestor, consider that they might have been living in a faith-based community during a census year. There are a number of examples of faith-based communities. Many have archived documents, diaries, and histories in libraries. Some information is available online.
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Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2009.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.
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