LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The odyssey of one of the Las Vegas valley’s founding families will take another step on Friday as a ceremony marks the reburial of the remains of Conrad Kiel and his two sons near their original resting places.
It’s been an ordeal that historian Joe Thomson has studied, with unlikely twists and turns.
Now, timed with Veterans Day, Thomson will be on hand with Kiel family members, the Rancho High School JROTC and members of the Southern Nevada Living History Association at a 2 p.m. ceremony. The event will recognize the family and community members who worked to return the remains to the historic Kiel Ranch site — now a 7-acre park that will soon double in size.
Kiel Ranch was once a 240-acre ranch built at the site of a spring that helped grow crops to sustain settlers as the population grew. The site is just west of Interstate 15 on Carey Avenue. The ranch is an important piece of the valley’s history, along with the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort.
Conrad Kiel died in 1894, according to a display at the park. The site’s past includes a gunfight that ended in the deaths of brothers Edwin and William in 1900, a glorious “White House” mansion that burned down, and a sad chain of transactions that nearly cost the valley an important part of its history.
North Las Vegas city officials using funds from the Bureau of Land Management and the Southern Nevada Public Lands Act (SNPLA) corrected some of the wrongs in bringing the park into existence. So far, $5.1 million in development at the site has come from SNPLA funds dating back to 2010.
The marker built for the new grave site is within the fence around an adobe structure that is believed to be the oldest building in Southern Nevada.
The bodies of Conrad, Edwin and William were “unceremoniously removed in 1975 and placed in the anthropology lab at UNLV,” Thomson said. The remains were kept in storage, and the work to get them reburied has revealed some interesting details of what happened while UNLV had custody of the remains, Thomson said. Some of those details might be revealed today.
During the Civil War, Conrad Kiel was in the Pennsylvania Cavalry. Edwin and William were with the Ohio Cavalry, Thomson said.
“I cannot overstate how rare or important this occurrence is to have a connection to Civil War veterans or even pioneers from this timeline in the Las Vegas valley,” Thomson said. “The Kiel family as settlers and ranchers own the birthright to present day North Las Vegas.”
Kyle Canyon is named for the Kiel family. Displays at the park explain that it was a common misspelling of the family’s name.