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Bethel, Shelby County

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Frozen in time, it seems, Bethel, north of Shelbyville, is one of the more interesting towns I have visited, and is a must-see for those interested in Antebellum Missouri. One of the largest collections of buildings from before the Civil War, it represents a time and place that is mostly gone due to development in older cities such as St. Louis. Read about the town here, and read the National Register document here. It was founded by Wilhelm Keil from Germany, and was one of many planned, intentional communities founded by immigrants in the Nineteent Century. It seems ripe for more development as a major historical site, but again, as much of this area, is very remote.

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9 Comments

  1. Those home in shelbina mo and other town. With the neon paint. Are marked to be torn down. In bethel you missed the keal mansion out east of town the last picture in you bethel pics is not a church but is actually a funeral home. That actually still has the embalming and equipment in the basement. So if you have any more question about stuff there feel free to ask I was raised there in shelby county

  2. These pictures are a beautiful gift. Thank you! My grandmother was born in the small brick house just north of the Fest Hall.
    I fear the sight of these once quaint, charming towns is a sign the US is suffering from congestive heart failure.

    • These photos are fantastic. After Keil moved his German colony to Oregon, the little village of Bethel continued to thrive and is yet a community rich with heritage and honor. Yes, the US may be suffering from congestive heart failure, but the folks in Bethel are alive and well. If you want a taste of genuine community and compassion–join the many folks around a table at the Fest Hall for the best hamburger, fried chicken or catfish for miles around!

  3. It is awesome that you came to out little town and explored. However some of the places you should have stepped inside and seen some of the renovations! The fest hall has been there for many years and has been renovated plus an edition built on! The restaurant Smokin’ J’s that you pictured has been open for only four years however the building itself holds alot of history! One portion of the resturant was the old town tavern and another section was actually a bank and still has the old vault located in it! There is also an old building that is located behind the gazebo that is currently a B&B and has alot of history behind it! Might have been nice to see what some of the buildings that have been renovated and the people who put heart and effort into the town looks like as well! Still thanks for visiting! Hope you come back during one of our many festivals and maybe even stay in the B&B!

    • I think most places were closed the day I was there on a weekday. Would be happy to come back and explore again.

  4. If you make it back to Bethel, be sure to go see Elim ( Dr.Keil’s house ).

  5. I grew up there! Love seeing the old buildings that are so familiar to me. What a great town! Still have a lot family still living there.

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