Made a trip to Hamilton OH, to see the memorial of Captain John Symmes.
We found it in a rundown park surrounded by boarded-up houses in the middle of a hardscrabble, declining, formerly industrial town. Passed a fresh murder scene being processed by the mobile crime lab on the way in.
John Symmes (1779-1829) was a career officer in the US Army who served the nation in The War of 1812. He was also an ardent student of the natural sciences. Symmes became convinced the world was hollow with openings at the poles and habitable lands on the inside.
Symmes lectured extensively on his theory and repeatedly tried to solicit government support or private funds to mount an expedition to the unknown lands inside the Earth.
Although no expedition was ever mounted, Symmes’ ideas have influenced religious zealots, pseudo-scientists, and authors of fiction up to the present day. Edgar Allan Poe and Edgar Rice Burroughs both drew inspiration from Symmes.
Symmes’ son raised this memorial to his father in the 1840s.
In 1869, American inventor and physician Cyrus Teed was experimenting with some electrical apparatus when he was hit with a bolt of energy, knocking him out cold. On awaking, he proclaimed that he had communed with the angels, who told him the secrets to the universe. Teed changed his name to Koresh and started preaching his gospel, forming the Koreshanites movement. As well as celibacy and reincarnation, the tenets of Koreshanity held that the Earth was in fact a hollow sphere, with people living on the inside. In this “Cellular Cosmology” model, the heavens above were really the heavens within, an intricate machinery of prisms and light. After founding his utopian settlement in Estero, Florida, Teed set out to prove that the world really was hollow. -Science Blogs Dot Com
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.