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Bethel, at its original location, was a Yup'ik village called Mumtrekhlogamute, meaning "Smokehouse People," after the nearby fish smokehouse. It was an Alaska Commercial Company trading post during the late 1800s. It had a population of 41 people in the 1880 U.S. Census. The Moravian Church established a mission in the area in 1885, under the leadership of Rev. John Henry Kilbuck, Jr. Kilbuck learned Yup'ik, which greatly enhanced his effectiveness as a missionary. Missionaries moved Bethel from Mamterillermiut to its present location on the west side of the Kuskokwim River. A United States Post Office was opened in 1905.

Alaska Natives in this area also have a long Christian history, in part from Russian Orthodox, Catholic and Moravian influence. As in many Alaskan villages, Christian tradition has become interwoven with its cultural history.

On February 19, 1997, a school shooting attracted widespread media attention to Bethel when 16-year-old Evan Ramsey, a student at Bethel Regional High School, shot and killed his principal and one student and wounded two others, for which he later received a 198-year prison sentence.

Alakanuk Cemetery  
Aniak Cemetery  
Bethel Cemetery According to the Pribilof Report of 1949. "Native Alaskan cemetery, where the Kuskokwim River was undermining the caskets and plunging the corpses into the stream just above the city water supply intake."
Bethel Veteran's Memorial Cemetery Bethel, Alaska - In the middle of a dirt field in this western Alaska hub lies a grave, a wooden cross at its head, a small American flag at the foot. This is the inaugural plot of the new Veterans Memorial Cemetery, which will serve the Kuskokwim River town of Bethel and 56 largely Yup'ik Eskimo villages. Members of the local American Legion post spearheaded construction of the two-acre site in a community effort being hailed by national Legion officials as the only one of its kind.

Chevak Cemetery  
Emmonak Cemetery  
Hooper Bay Cemetery  
Kipnuk Cemetery  
Kwigillingok Moravian Cemetery  
Mountain Village Cemetery  
Ptarmigan Cemetery  
Quinhagak Cemetery  
Toksook Bay Cemetery  
Tuntutuliak Cemetery  
CHURCHES The Library of Congress has many original vital records that were sent there during World War II. Records from 1816-1936 are also available on microfilm at the National Archives, Alaska Region, the Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska, the Bureau of Vital Statistics, and the Family History Library (index on film #944197).

Moravian, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, and other denominations have more recently established missions, schools, and hospitals in Alaska. The Moravians, the second largest denomination in Alaska, settled predominantly in Bethel and along the Kuskokwim River.

For Catholic and Presbyterian information, write to the local church since the Bureau of Vital Statistics’ records are restricted.

  Roman Catholic

Diocese of Juneau
419 Sixth Street
Juneau, AK 99801
Tel (907) 586-2227
Fax (907) 463-3237

Chancery Office
Diocese of Fairbanks
1316 Peger Road
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Tel (907) 474-0753
Fax (907) 474-8009

Archdiocese of Anchorage
225 Cordova St.
Anchorage, AK 99501
Tel (907) 258-7898
Fax (907) 279-3885

The Sisters of Providence Archives
4800 37th Avenue S.W.
Seattle, WA 98126
Tel (206) 937-4600
Fax (206) 938-6193


Alaska Moravian Church
P.O. Box 545
Bethel, AK 99559
Bethlehem, PA
Tel (610) 867-7566
Fax (610) 866-9223


Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Tel (215) 627-1852
Fax (215) 627-0509

Russian Orthodox

St. Herman’s Theological Seminary
414 Mission Rd.
Kodiak, AK 99615
Tel (907) 486-3524
Fax (907) 486-5935

DEEDS Grace Lieb, Bethel Recorder
Box 426 Bethel, AK 99559
(Phys. Location) 311 Willow St., Bethel, AK 99559
(907) 543-3391
(Fax) 543-7053
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Bethel, Alaska
Phone: 907-543-2007
Hours: By appt
LOOKUPS AND VOLUNTEERS We need you! Please visit this page to see how you can help.
QUERY / MESSAGE BOARDS These have been upgraded and combined with the Ancestry Boards. Post/View queries here. These are a valuable resource and all genealogists need to learn how to use them.
RESOURCES City of Bethel
P.O. Box 1388
Bethel, AK 99559
Phone: (907) 543-2047 ext. 221
Fax: (907) 543-4171

  Bethel Towns Wade Hampton Towns
VITAL STATISTICS Handled by the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics. Under Alaska law, all Vital Statistics records are strictly confidential until they become public records. Births become public records 100 years after the event; deaths, marriages, and divorces become public records 50 years after the event.
This is an area where volunteers can be of great help. If you have an old yearbook, scan it in and send it to the Borough Coordinator.
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