News & Events

Bethel Colony Youth Hunt Buck Contest 2021

Bethel Colony Youth Hunt Buck Contest 2021

If you are hunting during youth weekend this year, why not participate in the 18th Annual Bethel Colony "Youth Hunt" competition? The buck with the most points (minimum size of 1" point to qualify) wins 50% of the entry pool, along with other prizes. Bethel Colony...

Fall Pickers Market 2021

Fall Pickers Market 2021

Antiques / Vintage, Architectural Salvage, Fall Decor, Jewelry & Clothing, Repurposed Finds, Original Art, Handmade Crafts, Live Music, Food, Area Wine Vendors, and some Good Ole Junk! That's what you'll find at The Northeast Missouri Fall Pickers Market September...

Wildlife & Outdoor Expo 2021

Wildlife & Outdoor Expo 2021

The Annual Wildlife & Outdoor Expo will be held in Bethel, Missouri on Saturday, September 4, 2021. The village of Bethel is a historical German Colony located in Northeast Missouri. Several of the original Colony homes are still in existence. A variety of...

Our History

Bethel, in North River Valley, five miles from Shelbyville, was founded in 1844 as a religious communal colony by Wilhelm Keil and his German-American followers. Keil (1812-1877), an independent preacher, called his adherents “Christians.” Without a written agreement, they shared their property and labor, though private earnings were allowed. Bethel community was early noted for its handicrafts and musical band.

Membership was about 650 in 1855 when Keil, fearing Bethel too subject to outside influence, led a group west and established Aurora Colony in Oregon. Their expedition over the Oregon Trail is unique for it was conducted as a funeral cortege. Keil’s son, Willie, died before he realized his father’s promise to lead the group and was carried instead in the head wagon in a metal box, alcohol-filled. After six months and over 2000 miles, he was buried at Willapa, Washington.

Keil never returned to Bethel, directing affairs there by letter. When the colonies disbanded, 1879-1881, they held property in common valued at $109,806. Bethel supplied $64,328 of this and owned 4267 acres.