New book suggests Florida cult inspired Waco's David Koresh
Journalist Jeff Guinn says he's found new evidence that Texas cult leader David Koresh was a fake who plagiarized the prophecies of a long-forgotten Fort Myers man.
- Guinn's new book, "Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Dividians, and a Legacy of Rage," timed to release near the 30th anniversary of the notorious 1993 siege in Waco, Texas, traces the "prophecies" of the ill-fated Branch Davidian leader back to the banks of the Estero River at the turn of the last century.
Flashback: In the 1890s, a man named Cyrus Reed Teed, who proclaimed himself to be the Messiah, moved with some followers from Chicago to 300 riverside acres in Fort Myers.
- There, the "eclectic" physician and alchemist, who identified himself by the single name Koresh, built a following of hundreds while proclaiming through a newsletter that the End Times were coming and he would be transformed, and his followers would be treated well in the afterlife.
- Teed claimed he'd been visited by an angel who told him he'd "redeem the race" and open the Seven Seals to initiate Armageddon.
Yes, but: Teed died in 1908 and did not rise from the dead. His body was entombed in a mausoleum on the beach in Fort Myers, but it was washed away by the 1921 hurricane.
- The number of so-called Koreshans dwindled until the last of them, a single German woman, gifted the compound to the state of Florida in the 1960s. It is now a state park.
Fast forward: Years later, in the late 1980s, a young man named Vernon Wayne Howell would start calling himself David Koresh, adopt Teed's prophecies as his own and emerge as the leader of a cult in Texas.
The connection: Guinn notes the astonishing similarities in the mens' stories and prophecies, and many David Koresh scholars agree that he must've plagiarized Teed, knowingly or not.
Of note: Guinn found that in 1993, the Waco public library had a rare copy of "Koreshanity: The New Age Religion," published by Teed's followers long after his death to keep his legacy alive.
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