The Historic Community of Kelpe
The Historic Village of Kelpe was the name given to this small hamlet and post office that was near the intersection of Wild Horse Creek Road and Ossenfort Road, which was settled by this early pioneer family. In 1852, Henry Kelpe (I) left Hanover Germany, with his wife and three sons, on a six-month trip to England, then to New Orleans. The family then traveled up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, until they reached this area, purchased 40 acres for $200, and pioneered a farmstead. The family grew crops, such as wheat and corn, and sold dried fruit from the numerous fruit trees on the property, while also harvesting lumber for barrel staves and making corn whiskey. Henry Kelpe (II) married Caroline Arbegast, had four children, and built a home in 1885, while continuing to farm the valley. He also served as postmaster and blacksmith for the area from 1886-1896. This pioneer families’ remains are buried in unmarked graves in Babler State Park, while many of their descendants continue to live in the Wildwood Area to this day. Another early pioneer family that predated the Kelpes, and settled in the area during the early 1800s, was the Bacon family from Virginia. Rising land values and the draw of westward expansion led to an increase in migration further west. Thus, many of the Bacons sold their properties to German immigrants, such as the Kelpes, as early as the 1830s. Among some members of this early pioneer family from Virginia were brothers Nathaniel, William, Langston, and Ludwell Bacon. Nathaniel Bacon stayed in the area, which became Kelpe.