19 Year Old William Kiel Grave Site 1855; Near Raymond, WA


On the hill behind is the grave of Willie Kiel, 19 year old, son of Doctor William Kiel, leader of the Bethel colony that came west to setlle here in November 1855.

Willie was to have driven the leading team in the wagon train which was to leave Bethel, Missouri in May, 1855.  Four days before their departure Willie died. Because of his great desire to go West with the group, the decision was made to take his body along. It was placed in a lead lined box filled with alcohol. The sealed coffin was carried in a wagon remodeled as a hearse which led the wagon train west. In the evening by lamplight, Willie was buried here November 26, 1855.

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Some thoughts:

So, it took them 6 months to go from Missouri to Washington. The dad, who was a doctor, made the final decision and thought it was best to bring his dead son along for the trip. They were successful on their journey carrying a heavy box filled with a pickled corpse. They traveled across the Midwest over the summer, mostly on foot. There must have been some brutal hot days that they didn’t plan for.

Indians have been known to attack pioneers along their journey. It sounds like their journey was safe enough.

Walking to western Washington is one of the longest journeys a pioneer could make. In my opinion, it is one of the best decisions to make, as the land can pay off in the long run.

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