Recounting of the Ft. Myers brawl in the Unity’s newspaper, The American Eagle

Series: (Series N2009- 3, Koreshan Unity; Papers, ca. 1887-1990.)

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Koreshan Unity

Recounting of the Ft. Myers brawl in the Unity’s newspaper, <em>The American Eagle</em>


American Eagle article—Page 1


Vol. I Estero, Florida, Nov. 8, 1906. No. 23

Proceedings of Estero Town Council

At the regular meeting of the Town Council of Estero, Lee County, Florida, Nov. 5, 1906, the following action was taken:

Whereas, certain citizens of Fort Myers, without provocation, on the street of said town, the 13th day of October, 1906, did assault, and with preconcerted action attempt to injure the person and reputation of Dr. Cyrus R. Teed, the Founder of the Town of Estero, after having viciously assaulted, struck, and chased a citizen of the town of Estero through the streets of Fort Myers, under a trumped-up and maliciously false charge of an insult to a Mrs. Sellers, of Fort Myers; and whereas all of the facts go to show that said charge of insult was a mere subterfuge for an apparent reasonable excuse for the assault, which was made for no other than political reasons; and whereas, the town of Fort Myers has, by the action of its municipal council, endorsed the lawlessness of its citizens in the street brawl, which was put up and carried out with the aid of the town marshal; and whereas, certain citizens of the town of Fort Myers have perjured themselves in the sworn testimony regarding the assault on Dr. Tee.

Therefore, be it resolved: That the Town Council of Estero resent with indignation, and spurn with righteous zeal the false and vindictive effort of the town of Fort Myers to malign the character of the man with whom we have had association for many years, with whom we have been in daily intercourse, and whom we know to be a peaceful citizen of the highest moral character, a man who is never personally aggressive, who was never known to use whisky, tobacco, profanity, nor vulgarity, and who is ever contributing to the welfare of the community, even to his enemies.

Be it further resolved: That we append herewith the sworn testimony of eye witnesses to the assault made upon Doctor Teed by one, Sellers, a citizen of Fort Myers, and sustained by the action (or in action) of the said Marshal; also a communication from a citizen of Richland Center, Wis., who was present when and where the alleged insult was claimed to have been perpetrated by Mr. Wallace, who was fifty miles down the coast at the time.

And be it further resolved: That the action of the Town Council of Estero be published and circulated throughout the county, far and near, to the end that the honor of our most respected citizen be sustained and known throughout the country.

Addison C. Graves, Mayor
W. Ross Wallace, President
H.D. Silverfriend, Clerk
T.P. Gay
Jas. H. Bubbet
S. Armour
Rollin W. Gray
E.C. Miles
Moses G. Weaver
John S. Sargent


On the 13th. day of October, 1906, I was in Fort Myers to meet some friends from Baltimore, who were expected on the afternoon train. I was not “looking for trouble,” for up to that time I had no idea that Fort Myers was absolutely lawless in its official capacity. I was on my way to the train when I saw the marshal, Mr. Sellers, Ross Wallace, and Rollin W. Gray, standing in front of or near Mr. Gilliam’s store. I turned aside to say that Mr. Wallace was down the coast at the time that the alleged insult on the phone occurred. I made the statement that our man at the phone did not say that Mrs. Sellers had told an untruth, but that he did ask, “Why did you tell me that Mr. Pilling was not there?” Before I got the words out of my mouth, Mr. Sellers said, “Don’t you call me a liar,” and with that he struck me three successive blows in the face. To avoid other blows to follow, I drew closer to Mr. Sellers and raised my hand across my face to protect it from the blows of the man who made the assault.

The town marshal was standing not two feet from me while the man Sellers was raining his blows onto my face. He did not move, either to arrest Sellers or to protect me from his brutality. I did not strike Sellers, as it has been alleged, nor did I call Mr. Sellers a liar. I was not there to fight nor to run. I did hope that the marshal would use his authority to prevent Sellers from further injury to my person. I found that I was, even as to the official capacity of Fort Myers, among my enemies. My salvation was in the fact that while the man Sellers was raining blow after blow into my face, my friend was on his way from the station with the visitors we were to meet at the train. This young friend saw my hand raised to protect my face from the blows of the man who assaulted me, and rushing to the rescue, prevented another of the brutal blows aimed at my face. After this I was trying to explain to the marshal the fact that I neither called Sellers a liar, nor did I strike him. With this the marshal, without any provocation whatsoever, struck me a stinging bow across my face. The young man then struck the marshal.

I was present when the marshal said to the young man, “You are under arrest.” There was no resistence made to the arrest of either of the young men or myself. I positively declare that I did not strike a blow during the affray, nor did I call any man a liar. I did not know there was any trouble for the people of Estero in Myers that day. The Mayor was not on the scene until after the young man struck Sellers in my defense. The Fort Myers Press made the false statement that I had with me a hired pugilist and trained prize fighter, which is on a par with all of the vilification which has filled the columns of that malignant and vilifying Fort Myers slanderer, the Press.

The young man Richard, who was in Myers for the purpose of meeting his friends from Baltimore, is as fine a boy as ever trod the soil of Florida. He has been in the interests of the Koreshan Unity for a long time, and for a number of months has been a member of the Estero community; consequently, could not have been the kind of man declared by the Press, nor hired b myself. The Mayor of Myers did not know what occurred before the young man accomplished what he did to settle the fracas. He was not on the scene when Sellers began the assault. Hence, what he saw was after the central figures had quieted down. If any man declares that he saw any resistance to arrest, he states what is absolutely false, for there was nothing of the kind. One of the most disgraceful acts that I ever witnessed was for that marshal to stand and see me pounded, without my offering any resistance, and then to walk up to me and say, “You are under arrest.” The affair was a questions of politics from beginning to end. Dr. C. R. Teed.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this the 7th day of November, 1906.
[Seal]        T. P. Gay, J. P.


Affidavit of C. A. Graves

Estero, Lee County, Fla., Nov. 6, 1906.

Personally appeared before me, Dr. C. A. Graves, Mayor of the “Town of Estero,” to me well known, and being duly sworn, deposes and says that at about 1:45 p.m., on Saturday, Oct. 13, 1906, in the town of Fort Myers, Fla., he witnessed an assault upon Dr. Cyrus R. Teed, and the attendant disturbance, which was in this wise:

Affiant, with Mr. Richard Jentsch, had met at the depot a party of expected friends from Baltimore, Md., making their first visit to Florida. There were five persons in this party: Mrs. Elizabeth Rahn, some 70 years of age; Mr. H. N. Rahn, her son; Mr. Claud Rahn, her grandson; Master Roland Sander, and Master Geo. Henry Danner. The affiant had particularly in charge Mrs. Rahn and Mr. H. N. Rahn. Richard Jentsch was conducting Mr. Claude Rahn and the two boys. As this party was on its way to a hotel, and had progressed some two blocks, arriving in front of Mr. R. W. Gilliam’s grocery store, a crowd of perhaps 40 or 50 men were there gathered, on the sidewalk and in the street, the central figures being Town Marshal Sanchez, Mr. J. I. Sellers, and Dr. C. R. Teed.

At the moment when the affiant was at the edge of the crowd, on its south side, and perhaps 30 feet away, he saw Mr. Sellers strike Dr. Teed three times in the face, with his clenched fist. The affiant did not see Dr. Teed offer any resistance nor strike back. Neither did he see the marshal interfere in any manner, though he was in arm’s length of both Mr. Sellers and Dr. Teed. Affiant in these moments was pressing with Mrs. Rahn through the crowd, next the building, but did not remove his eyes from the central group. At this moment Richard Jentsch sprang forward and struck Mr. Sellers, and was himself simultaneously attacked from all sides.

Attaining a point with Mrs. Rahn just without the press, on the north side of it and in front of the store next Mr. Gilliam’s, your affiant saw Marshal Sanchez strike Dr. Teed a powerful blow full upon his face with his open hand, following the words: “You are a liar,” which I took to come from the marshal. Either preceding or following this act, I cannot say which, I saw Richard Jentsch borne to the pavement apparently by half a dozen assailants, the marshal at the same time raining blows upon him with this “billy.” At this juncture Mr. Claude Rahn, Roland Sander, and Geo. Henry Danner joined Mrs. and Mr. Rahn and your affiant where they stood; Claude Rahn’s mouth bleeding, and Henry Danner holding his face in his hands and evidently suffering. The party being then united excepting Richard Jentsch, we proceeded to the Hill House.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 7th day of Nov. 1906.

[Seal]        T. P. Gay, J. P.


Affidavit of Aldermen Gray and Wallace

As a principal in the incidents leading up to, and an eye witness of the assault on Dr. Teed of Estero, on the streets of Fort Myers, Saturday, October 13, the undersigned deposes and states that the following is a true statement of the affair as he saw it.

On Tuesday, Oct. 9, at about eight in the morning, as I was passing the vacant lot adjoining R. A. Henderson’s store and approaching the Florida House on my way to the County Clerk’s office, I was set upon by one J. I. Sellers, whom I observed coming down the steps of the Florida House and walking directly towards me. Being on speaking acquaintance with Sellers, I was accosting him with the usual morning salutation, when he grabbed me by the collar, and at the same instant, without any warning or reason therefore, began striking me in the face with his fist. It did not take long to guard my face, disengage the hold at my throat, and demand a reason for such unprovoked assault. In his repeated attempts to hit me, I made out something about calling his wife a liar, but such remarks were all Greek to me, not having heard the telephone charge against me. Knowing something of the political feeling of the county, and as my fight was of another character, I determined to control myself, and not be engaged in a street brawl, the result of which would be hard to determine under such conditions, and which would cause me to miss an engagement up the river that evening. Keeping my assailant off for some time, but not once striking, he then picked up a heaving piece of wood lying near, and as there was no satisfaction in a contention without reason, I ran towards the clerk’s office where I was going. Seeing that the place was not open, I continued down the side street towards the Mayor, who I saw in a wagon at the corner back of the courthouse, and asked him to protect me from further assault by the man who was approaching with a club. The Mayor made no response. I therefore proceeded to the sheriff’s house, Sellers retracing his steps. A few moments later, I passed down Second St. to the boat expecting to return to Myers on my way home and meet Sellers for an explanation, if possible, when he was not in a passion.

On Saturday, October 13, I, in the company of Messrs. Gray and Hanson, landed at the city dock at 12 o’clock in our small launch. Two boats of the Koreshan Unity of Estero had evidently just tied up, one coming for freight, the other for passengers. Dr. Teed and R. Jentsch were among those on the dock, the meeting of whom was purely accidental, as we were not aware of any boats or persons from Estero being in town. Mr. Jentsch informed us that he had come up to meet a party of friends from Baltimore who were expected. Being detained at the boat I walked up town alone, I inquired of several for the marshal, and on finding him, stated that I wished to have him accompany me to a meeting with Mr. Sellers, as I would like to have a reason for his assault on me. The marshal advised me to let it go, but I told him it were better to have an understanding than to have an open sore. He then acquiesced, but on looking at the time, we put it off until after dinner.

About 1:30 p.m., in company with Mr. Gray, we met the marshal, and proceeded towards the Florida House. The marshal stating that only one of us was necessary, Mr. Gray thereupon stepped back, and as he was going to the post-office, followed. At Smith’s corner we passed Mr. R. I. O. Travers who stood in conversation with Sellers, so we halted in front of Mr. Gilliam’s store. A moment later, Mr. Sellers approached me, asking if I wanted to see him. I stated that I did and asked him if he was able to give me any reason why he should have assaulted me on Tuesday morning without warning or apparent provocation, inasmuch as I was not in Estero at the time it was reported I had called his wife a liar. Sellers replied that he was told in Henderson’s store that it was Ross Wallace. I was explaining to him that he was mistaken, as I did not think any person had done so, and I knew that I had not, when Dr. Teed came up and said, that telephone communications were often misunderstood and told what several people at the end of the line had heard the young man say, when Sellers, with the words, “Don’t call me a liar,” struck Dr. Teed several times full in the face with clenched fist. As the marshal and myself were standing within arm’s length, I looked for the marshal to stop at once such an unprovoked assault, and realizing the consequences of interference by myself, or Dr. Teed returning the blows, I (Continued on Back of Supplement)


American Eagle article—Page 2

The American Eagle

Affidavit of Alderman Wallace and Gray—Continued.

took in the situation thoroughly, and say positively that Dr. Teed did not return a single blow, neither did he call any person a liar.

At this juncture, the young man, Richard Jentsch, coming from the train, came on the scene and dealt his blow on Sellers. This sudden interference so confused the crowd for a moment that all seemed to be over, when Marshal Sanchez, grabbing Dr. Teed by the coat, said, “You struck him and called him a liar.” Dr. Teed replied, “I did not strike him nor call him a liar.” Thereupon the marshal replied, “Don’t you tell me you did not strike him,” and at the same time struck him a vicious blow on the face with his open hand. To this added insult by the town’s marshal, Dr. Teed made no resistance nor reply, but the young man, Richard Jentsch, standing by, hit the marshal a telling blow in the face. Then began the scrimmage in which a great many in the crowd were mixed up in the attack on, and defense of Richard Jentsch. The marshal was heard to say to Richard Jentsch, “You hit me again and I will kill you.”

After the beating of the young man, Richard Jentsch, the affair was closed by the arrest of Dr. Teed, Richard Jentsch, and his Baltimore friend, who had just arrived on the train.

There was positively no idea of picking a quarrel in Myers. If such had been the case, several of our men would not have been down on the boats at the time of the assault, loading cargo and making ready for departure.

W. Ross Wallace.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this the 7th day of November 1906.

[Seal]        T. P. Gay, J. P.

I subscribe to that part of the above as being true and within my knowledge which refers to the facts after we met Marshal Sanchez.

Rollin W. Gray

Subscribed and sworn to before me this the 7th day of November, 1906.

[Seal]        T. P. Gay, J. P.


Affidavit of Claude J. Rahn.

Estero, Fla., Nov. 5, 1906.

Personally appeared before me, the undersigned authority, Claude J. Rahn, of Baltimore, Md., aged 21 years, who being duly sworn, says:

I arrived from Baltimore, Md., in Fort Myers, on Oct. 13, 1906, on the noon train, and was on my way to the hotel in company with my father, grandmother, Roland Sander and Henry Danner, also Dr. Graves and Richard Jentsch, the latter two meeting us at the train.

As we approached a crowd of people who seemed highly excited, I saw a man, whom I afterwards learned was Mr. Sellers, hitting Dr. C. R. Teed. Richard Jentsch, who was walking at my side, rushed forward to the assistance of Dr. Teed, who apparently was offering no resistance to the man striking him, but merely held his hands before him for protection. I impulsively ran forward to the group with the purpose of separating, if possible, the men, and in the melee which followed was struck a blow in the face. Immediately following this, I observed a man whom I later learned was Mr. Sanchez, the marshal, holding Dr. Teed, and I approaching them heard the marshal say, “You struck him.” Dr. Teed exclaimed, “Why, I did not.” The marshal then called the Doctor a liar, following with a blow upon the Doctor’s face with the palm of his left hand, knocking the Doctor’s glasses from his face. At this time the marshal had Dr. Teed with one hand and seized me with the other, saying. “You are under arrest.” But he immediately released his hold, and drawing his billy from his pocket, began to strike Richard Jentsch over the head, who was being borne to the ground by four or five other men. I then became separated from Dr. Teed and Mr. Jentsch and joined our party on the corner and sought our hotel, observing meanwhile that the Doctor and Mr. Jentsch had entered the store in front of which the disturbance had occurred.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this the 7th day of November, 1906.

[Seal.]        T. P. Gay, J. P.


Affidavit of Roland Sander

Estero, Fla., Nov. 6, 1906.

Personally appeared before me, Roland Sander, to me known, who being duly sworn, says:

I am fifteen years old, and my home is in Baltimore, Md. I got of the train at Ft Myers on Oct. 13, 1906, and met Richard Jentsch and was introduced to Dr. Graves. We started for the hotel, and on the street we saw a crowd of men, as we approached them I saw Dr. Teed, whom I had known in Baltimore, and a man whom I later learned was a Mr. Sellers, raining blows upon the face of Dr. Teed. Dr. Teed put up his hands to ward off the blows, but did not strike the other man. Richard Jentsch, seeing the assault, bounded into the crowd, like a steam engine and gave Sellers a knockout blow. Then I was pushed into the crowd, my valise grabbed from my hand and thrown into the street. Mr. Claude Rahn was pushed with the crowd and was hit in the mouth.

Just then a man came to me and asked if I was a Koreshan. I replied, “Yes.” He struck me a blow in the face, and landed me in the gutter. Then I saw the man Sellers draw a knife on Dr. Teed; but a man grabbed his arm and made him put the knife up. Then a man whom I later learned was the marshal, struck Dr. Teed in the face and called him a liar. Then Richard Jentsch gave the marshal a knock-out blow. Richard was then seized by four or five men and beaten over the head with the marshal’s club. Then I received a blow or two from the man Sellers while Richard was down on his knees. Sellers made a break to kick him, but I stooped down and grabbed his foot, which gave me a pull-over. I was then pulled out of the crowd by Mr. H. N. Rahn and pushed into a store. I then went with our party to the hotel.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this the 7th day of November, 1906.

[Seal.]        T. P. Gay, J. P.


Affidavit of Geo. H. Danner

Estero, Fla., Nov. 6, 1906.

Personally appeared before me, Geo. Henry Danner, known to me, who being duly sworn, says:

I am fourteen years old. My home is in Baltimore, Md. I arrived at Ft. Myers on the noon train, Saturday, Oct. 13, and was met by Richard Jentsch and Dr. Graves. We were on our way to the hotel when we saw a crowd of men, and as we approached them I saw a man striking another, neither of whom I knew, but later learned they were Dr. Teed and Mr. Sellers. Mr. Sellers was bareheaded and in light clothing; Dr. Teed was in black clothes and a black hat. I saw the man in light clothes striking the man in black. I did not see the man in black strike. Richard Jentsch and Claude Rahn went to part them, when Claude Rahn was struck in the face and knocked backwards. On seeing this I dropped by grip and kicked the other man and then ran. He pursued me and hollered, “Grab the kid.” A large man grabbed me, hit me on the side of my head and gave me to the other man. He hit me and knocked me into the crowd, to get out of which I went into the store we were in front of, but came right out again and saw the marshal holding Dr. Teed and Claude Rahn by their arms. Releasing Claude he called the Doctor a liar, for something I did not hear, and slapped him in his face. Then Richard Jentsch struck the marshal. He released the Doctor, pulled out a billy and hit Richard on the head several times before he could escape. Then I joined our part and went to the hotel.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this the 7th day of November, 1906.

[Seal.]        T. P. Gay, J. P.


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