Place:Bethel, Shelby, Missouri, United States


Coordinates39.877°N 92.024°W
Located inShelby, Missouri, United States
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Bethel is a village in Shelby County, Missouri, United States. The population was 122 at the 2010 census.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Bethel was founded as a Bible communist utopian colony in 1844 by Dr William Keil (1811–1877), a Prussian-born preacher. He and his followers, who were almost exclusively German immigrants to America, believed that the Book of Acts required that Christians hold all property and means of production in common and they organized their Colony accordingly. Traditionally male work was communally performed; however, traditionally female work was still individualized and performed in single family households.

By 1850, the Bethel Colony had a population of 500; by 1860, 600. It owned thousands of sheep, cattle and horses, and had over 3,500 acres under cultivation. It was the commercial center of the region. However, the construction of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad threatened Dr. Keil's theocracy. In 1855, he led his some of his followers westward over the Oregon Trail, to eventually settle Aurora, Oregon. Other wagon trains followed in subsequent years. The remainder of the Bethel Colony retained their communal ownership of property and shared means of production until three years after his death in 1877. In 1880, the property was divided among the remaining members, thus ending Missouri's most successful communal experiment.

The Bethel Historic District, bounded by Liberty, King, 1st, and 4th Streets, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. At least twenty of the buildings constructed by the Bethel Colony are still extant. These houses are on exhibit to visitors and to the public.

Research Tips

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Bethel, Missouri. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.