The idea of the hollow earth was made popular by Jules Verne’s novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. However, in 1869 a doctor in New York would propose an idea that took the hollow earth theory one step further. Dr. Cyrus Teed was a physician who had a very unique view of the earth. According to Teed the earth was hollow, however we were living inside of the concave hollow earth, with the sun, atmosphere, stars, and moon located in the center. Needless to say, Dr. Teed was a very odd man, who also performed very odd experiments involving mysticism, alchemy, and subjecting himself to high voltage electrical shocks.
After subjecting himself to one such shock in 1869 Dr. Teed was visited by a divine spirit who revealed that Teed was a messiah, and salvation of humanity depended on his spreading of the “Concave Earth” theory. Dr. Cyrus Teed changed his name to “Koresh”, the Hebrew name for Cyrus, and founded a new religion called “Koreshanity”. The core of Koreshanity revolved around belief in the Concave Earth, as well as communal living, utopianism, celibacy (no sex), and reincarnation. Many people flocked to join his new religion, and communes were formed in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
In 1894 Teed declared the creation of a “New Jerusalem” in Estero, Florida. 250 Koreshans built a prosperous town complete with a bakery, a general store, concrete works, power plant, and a Koreshanity College. In 1905 they conducted a five month long experiment in which not only did they supposedly prove the Concave Earth theory, but measured its curvature at eight inches per mile. The Koreshans even created their own political party, unsuccessfully running candidates for local government positions. However, the growing influence and expansion of the Koreshanity movement led to suspicion and acts of violence between residents and the Koreshans. In one incident, Teed himself was accosted and injured by a group of men from Fort Meyers. Apparently the injury never healed, and Teed died two years later in 1908.
Teed had always preached that he was immortal, and would be resurrected like Jesus after his death. His body was laid and watched over day and night for over a week until the local health department ordered his burial. Despite this set back Teed’s followers continued to faithfully practice his teachings. However, the lack of procreation caused by his teachings in celibacy ultimately doomed the religion. Few followers joined the religion after his death, seeing Teed as a nutcase and crackpot. Slowly the sect died out, with only a handful of Koreshan’s living in Florida by the 1960’s. Today the Koreshan settlement is owned by Florida and is protected as a state park.