Thursday, December 8, 2022


The sad tale of pickled Willie



By Chuck Woodbury
I would like to tell you the tale of pickled Willie. I learned about Willie while passing through Raymond, Washington.

Willie’s claim to fame is that back in the mid-1800’s, he came west as a pickle. Yes, that’s right, a pickle.

His name was Willie Kiel. He died in 1855 in Bethel, Missouri. His father, Doctor Kiel, was the leader of a communal religious colony that would soon head west to Washington Territory. Dr. Kiel promised Willie that he could lead the wagon train, which undoubtedly make young Willie very happy.

Sadly, Willie then did something not in the plan: He died, which was a crummy deal because how could he then lead the wagon train?

But his father was a man who kept his word. He placed his son into a lead-lined coffin then filled it to the top with alcohol. Then he closed the lid. Shortly afterwards, he loaded Willie onto the lead wagon where he rode in his pickled state all the way west. He was later buried along present day State Route 6 near Menlo. The grave is marked if you’d like to stop by.

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Linda Chandler
5 years ago

Interesting story. But I can’t help but wonder where Willie’s dad got all those gallons of alcohol to fill up the coffin. Also, vinegar is used to pickle, not alcohol.

5 years ago

Perhaps that’s what coined the phrase,”in a pickle”……

5 years ago

The things you miss if you don’t stop to read those highway markers.