OLD WILLAPA - Historical novelist Jane Kirkpatrick, author of "A Clearing in the Wild," will be the featured speaker at the Pacific County Historical Society's annual picnic on Aug. 13 at the Willapa Valley Grange in Old Willapa.

Kirkpatrick's story is based on the life of Emma Giesy, who came to Pacific County with a group of utopian Christians known as the Bethel Colony. Lead by William Keil, the colonists spent one winter in the Willapa Valley before finally settling in Aurora, Ore. William Keil's son Willie died just before the start of their westward trek. His body was carried with the wagon train, becoming a legend of the Oregon Trail. Willie was buried on the Giesy family homestead, in the Willapa Valley near Menlo in 1855.

Picnickers will take a guided tour of the Willie Keil gravesite, and Ms. Kirkpatrick will be on-hand to sign books. Copies of "A Clearing in the Wild" will be available for purchase at the picnic, or at the Pacific County Museum in South Bend.

The Pacific County Historical Society is a private, not-for-profit, IRS 501(c)3 educational organization. For more information about the Society's programs call (360) 875-5224, or visit their Web site at www.pacificcohistory.org.

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